Sunday 4 December 2016

Made-up character Elwyn Davies rings a bell with name survey participants

Published 17/11/2016 | 00:11

The made-up Elwyn Davies is second only to Ukip's Nathan Gill, pictured, in name recognition, Cardiff University researchers found
The made-up Elwyn Davies is second only to Ukip's Nathan Gill, pictured, in name recognition, Cardiff University researchers found

A completely fictitious person is apparently the second-most widely recognised of Wales's representatives in the European Parliament, a new study claims.

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The made-up Elwyn Davies is second only to Ukip MEP Nathan Gill in name recognition and is ahead of his elected colleagues Jill Evans, Derek Vaughan and Kay Swinburne.

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

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, to prevent them from Googling the solution, and were given the choices of four entirely made-up names and two real MEPs.

The findings reveal that Wales's four MEPs - Nathan Gill, Jill Evans, Derek Vaughan and Kay Swinburne - were picked out by members of the public with a breakdown of 16%, 11%, 9% and 6% respectively.

The made-up Elwyn Davies was chosen by 12% of respondents, David Sherwood was picked by 5%, Lynn Goodwin 5% and Jenny Green 5%.

Professor Roger Scully, principal investigator for the 2016 Welsh Election Study, said: "It's difficult to know what to say about some of these results.

"It is, I think, probably unsurprising that Nathan Gill came top, given the higher profile that 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."

Prof Scully, who spent the early part of his career studying in the European Parliament, added: "One of the things that my research impressed on me was that most MEPs are very hard-working individuals.

"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.

"Barely 20% of our entire sample were able to correctly choose the name of an actual MEP from those presented before them.

"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."

:: The data was collected by YouGov via the internet in March 2016 and 3,272 people responded.

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