ALMOST 60% of Welsh people don’t know who UKIP Wales leader Nathan Gill is, according to data collected by the Wales Governance Centre.
Discussing the figures, Roger Scully said that a 3,000-strong sample was asked to give the English and Welsh leaders of political parties a ‘dislike-like’ rating of between zero and 10. This included a ‘don’t know’ option for those who didn’t know enough about the politician to express an opinion.
Mr Gill’s ‘don’t know’ rating of around 58% was in stark contrast to that of national UKIP leader Nigel Farage. Mr Farage received a ‘don’t know’ rating of around 12%.
The poll clearly showed Westminster leaders (and Mr Farage) are far more identifiable to the general public in Wales than their Assembly counterparts, possibly as a result of more extensive media coverage.
David Cameron and Jeremy Corbyn scored ‘don’t know’ ratings of 8-11% – something that is in itself concerning, considering the former has been Prime Minister for almost six years.
The only exception to both these trends was the Liberal Democrats. This, however, was as much a result of Tim Farron’s low profile since taking over as leader after the election disaster as the generally high regard in which Assembly leader Kirsty Williams is held. Both scored ‘don’t know’ ratings in the middle-forties, with Mr Farron’s being marginally higher.
The Green Party’s Welsh leader Alice Hooker-Stroud was the least recognised of the main politicians, with almost 70% of those polled feeling unable to say whether or not they liked or disliked her.
First Minister Carwyn Jones and Leanne Wood were the most recognised of the Assembly leaders, with ‘don’t know’ ratings of around 24% and 28% respectively.
Mr Jones was also the most popular of all political figures, with an average score of just over 4.5 on the dislike-like 1-10 scale – making him more popular in Wales that Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. Leanne Wood was fractionally less popular, with an approval rating of 4.5.
As Mr Scully pointed out, the data did not tell the full story – for example, Mr Cameron and Mr Farage had by far the highest number of zero ratings.
Mr Farage’s approval rating of just over 3 put him slightly ahead of UKIP Wales leader Nathan Gill, who was, on the basis of this survey, the least popular political leader in England and Wales.
UKIP has been criticised in the runup to this election for putting senior figures like Mr Farage and Mr Reckless at the forefront of the campaign, rather than the actual leader of their Welsh arm.
High profile debates where Mr Gill’s non-participation has been noted have included an EU debate between the First Minister and Nigel Farage, an episode of Question Time filmed in Llanelli featuring Mr Jones, Ms Wood and Nigel Farage, and a broadcast of Any Questions from Pembroke Dock, which featured the Assembly Leaders of Labour, the Conservatives, Plaid Cymru, and the Lib Dems, along with Mark Reckless.
Whatever the party’s reasoning for keeping Mr Gill out of the spotlight, it appears to be doing little for his visibility at a time when he is widely predicted to be elected as an Assembly Member.