Imaginary man comes second in list of best-known MEPs in Wales

17 November 2016, 06:41 | Updated: 18 November 2016, 12:16

EU Referendum

A completely made-up person has been chosen as the second-most widely recognised Welsh representative in the European Parliament.

A study shows fictitious Elwyn Davies came after UKIP MEP Nathan Gill in name recognition.

He also came ahead of his real-life elected colleagues Jill Evans, Derek Vaughan and Kay Swinburne.

Those surveyed were asked: "Wales is represented by four members in the European Parliament. 

"Which, if any, of the following people are among Wales' four representatives in the European Parliament?"

They were given only 30 seconds to answer and were given the choices of four entirely made-up names and real MEPs.

The result is one of the findings to have emerged from the 2016 Welsh Election Study, led by researchers at Cardiff University.

Professor Roger Scully, principal investigator, said: "It's difficult to know what to say about some of these results.

"It is, I think, probably unsurprising Nathan Gill came top, given the higher profile his role in the Assembly election was giving him.

"But none of the other Welsh MEPs were selected by a greater proportion of the study respondents than that legendary figure in Welsh politics 'Elwyn Davies' - whose contributions to our national political life I feel I need not elaborate upon.

"Even Jill Evans, who had been an MEP for Wales for almost 17 years at the time this survey was implemented, had her name selected by fewer people than chose the mysteriously popular Mr Davies.

"For Kay Swinburne, Conservative MEP for Wales since 2009, the picture is even worse. Her name was picked out barely more than any of the false names listed."

He added barely 20% of those asked were able to correctly choose the name of an actual MEP from those presented before them.

"One of the things that my research impressed on me was that most MEPs are very hard-working individuals," Professor Scully said.

"Yet the efforts of Wales' four current representatives in the EU's elected chamber do not appear to have had much impact on the public.

"And some of those apparently correct answers may even have been guesses, as almost as many respondents picked names that turned out to be false.

"We will, of course, very likely be losing our MEPs when the UK leaves the EU.

"But on these results, it seems fair to say that most of the Welsh public are unlikely to notice."