As fake Labour MP Fiona Wilson polls well…we find real politician Fiona Wilson

Tom Belger
candy candy / Shutterstock

A story in The Times today found that “Fiona Wilson” polled better than some members of the shadow cabinet – despite being a fictional MP invented to test voters’ knowledge.

Some 15% of voters in the Portland Communications survey said they were “favourable” towards the made-up politician, higher reportedly than several high-profile names.

The Times reports “she doesn’t actually exist” – but LabourList tracked down the real-life Labour politician Fiona Wilson, who said she was “alive and kicking”.

She has been a Labour councillor since 2019 in the Macclesfield South ward in Cheshire East in north-west England.

The real Fiona Wilson

A former high street bank employee, she spent two decades at shopworkers’ union Usdaw, ultimately becoming head of research and economics, until she became a councillor.

Contacted by LabourList about the story, she said: “It is amusing. The only issue is the suggestion ‘she doesn’t exist’. I’m alive and kicking in Macclesfield.

“I know three Fiona Wilsons. It’s not a particularly unusual name. I’m not running to be an MP or in the shadow cabinet though. My focus is working for my residents, doing my best as they suffer with the economic crisis in one of the most deprived wards in Cheshire East.

“I’m also working very hard as general election agent  for our parliamentary candidate Tim Roca. We’re expecting he’ll be our next MP – we’ve worked very hard to increase the number of Labour councillors and there are now no Conservative councillors in Macclesfield Town.

“The Conservatives have crashed the economy, decimated our public services and the NHS is on its knees. We are campaigning for a brighter future under Labour.”

The survey also looked at voter favourability towards and recognition of senior Tories too. Alongside the real Conservative cabinet, the poll asked for opinions on the fictional minister Henry Thorpe – who was better known than Claire Coutinho, the energy secretary.

He also scored a net favourability rating (favourable minus unfavourable) of minus 5, “putting him in the top tier of real Tory ministers”.

Gabriel Milland, partner at Portland Communications, told The Times: “It’s pretty clear that a lot of people have not beamed in on the election yet.”

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