THE POLITICS FILE: Can you put a name to the faces of your AMs?
AN ARGUS survey has found Gwent people struggle to recognise the man who runs the government of Wales. KEILIGH BAKER and ALEXIA McCALMONT join DAVID DEANS to report. THE MIGHT head up the body that makes decisions that affect every person inWales, but how many people would recognise Carwyn Jones?
Our survey found many across Gwent do not recognise the first minister of Wales when shown his photo – with only 16 people out of 100 able to put a name to his face.
One person thought he was the TV weatherman Derek Brockway, and two said the Welsh Labour leader looked like a Conservative.
Others said he was the secretary of state for Wales, a position held by Tory MP David Jones. Some said they recognised him but struggled to think who he was.
Only seven people out of 100 recognised Welsh Education Minister Leighton Andrews and named him, while only one person could nameWelsh Health Minister Lesley Griffiths.
However, more people, in each case, knew the politicians’ positions as ministers, even if they were unable to name them.
In contrast, almost everyone knew who UK Prime Minister David Cameron was.
A total of 100 people across Newport, Ebbw Vale, Abergavenny and Cwmbran town centres were shown pictures of Mr Jones, Mr Andrews, Ms Griffiths and Mr Cameron.
They were also shown pictures of each area’s local Assembly Members. Participants were asked what the person’s name was and their position.
Of local AMs, in Newport three people out of 40 recognised and named Newport East AM and Environment Minister John Griffiths.
Mary Legge, 53, of Ben’s Bakes in Newport Market, recognised John Griffiths immediately as he regularly visits the shop for bread pudding.
Ten people could name Assembly presiding officer and Newport West AM Rosemary Butler, while in Abergavenny three people out of 20 named Monmouth AM Nick Ramsay.
In Ebbw Vale, none of the 20 asked named Blaenau Gwent AM Alun Davies, who was elected last year, while three people out of 20 named Torfaen AM Lynne Neagle.
Leigh Rosser, 35, who works at a butchers in Newport Market, couldn’t name any of the people shown. He said people should recognise politicians, but added: “It’s not my cup of tea.”
DJ Simon Roe, 28, who was born in Newport, didn’t recognise Carwyn Jones but said he might have recognised former first minister Rhodri Morgan.
Bridget Parfitt, 80, from St Julians in Newport, said: “If they do something important then they’ll be known.”
Leighton Brown, 27, from Abergavenny, admitted he only watched the national TV news, and not the Welsh.
“I suppose they [Welsh politicians] aren’t given much exposure,” he said.
Mr Ramsay said it was worrying that people don’t recognise the first minister: “I think it’s quite dangerous. AMs have that power over people’s lives, if they are not known they are not accountable.”
He said directly electing the first minister could be considered to help improve the position’s profile, “just as Boris Johnson was elected by all London”.
Mr Davies said a year after the 2011 Assembly elections he wasn’t surprised he didn’t get recognised.
“We have a media that’s dominated by London.
“If you did an analysis, I think Boris Johnson would have a vast amount of coverage and Carwyn Jones has virtually none,” he said.
Ms Neagle said: “The London-centric nature of most of the news people consume does tend to mean Assembly politicians aren’t always as well recognised as their counterparts in Westminster.”
But she said it mattered to her more that she is serving local people well than her picture being recognised.
Mr Griffiths brushed off suggestions the Assembly was invisible. “It is a lot better than it was at the beginning. It will get better still,” he said.
Ms Butler said communicating the work of the National Assembly is one of her key priorities.
“Over the past 12 months we have worked hard to involve people and commuities in our work, particularly women and young people,” she said.
“This work goes hand in hand with the changes I, as presiding officer, have made to the way we do business in order to make our debates and legislation more reflective of the issues facing communities acrossWales.”
The Welsh Government declined to comment.
DO YOU RECOGNISE THEM? The pictures we showed members of the public, clockwise from top left, First Minister Carwyn Jones, Welsh health minister Lesley Griffiths, Welsh education minister Leighton Andrews, Assembly presiding officer and Newport West AM Rosemary Butler, Welsh environment minister and Newport East AM John Griffiths, Blaenau Gwent AM Alun Davies, Torfaen AM Lynne Neagle and Monmouth AM Nick Ramsay Can you put a name to the faces of your AMs?
Key figures in our survey:
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