With the western world convulsed by one of the most devastating wars for generations, you might expect the holder of the Defence brief in Her Majesty’s Opposition to be a figure of authority, easily recognised by the British public.

However, this is not the case. A YouGov survey found that only 21% of respondents have heard of John Healey. 

Since then, many thought that he might be Vladimir Putin when he was shown the photo by The Mail last Sunday.

Shadow Defence Secretary John Healey

Vladamir Putin

Only 21 percent of Americans have ever heard John Healey, according to YouGov.

Actress Anjelica Houston

Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer Rachel Reeves

Anjelica Houston, a West Midlands florist believed that Rachel Reeves Shadow Chancellor was Addams Family actress Anjelica

And while Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer saw Thursday’s local election results as a ‘massive turning point’ for his party, saying: ‘We’re back on track now for the General Election,’ the public’s general failure to identify his top team suggests Labour faces an uphill struggle.

The results of our admittedly very unscientific exercise in asking people to identify pictures of Starmer and 11 other Shadow Cabinet Ministers are amusing – but may indicate that he has a long way to go before Labour really is ‘on track’ to be the next Government. 

Shadow home secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds (left) shadow chancellor of the exchequer Rachel Reeves (centre) and deputy leader Angela Rayner (right) ahead of the keynote speech of Sir Keir Starmer at the Labour Party conference in Brighton

Shadow home secretary Nick Thomas Symonds (left), shadow opportunityllor of exchequer Rachel Reeves, (centre), and Angela Rayner (right), before Sir Keir starmer’s keynote speech at the Labour Party conference.

We asked the public to identify members of the Shadow cabinet, beginning with leader of the party Keir Starmer

We asked people to identify Shadow cabinet members, starting at Keir starmer, the leader of the party.

A lawyer asked: '‘Is that the actress Catherine Tate?’ (pictured) Labour Deputy leader Angela Rayner speaks at a protest by unions outside the Houses of Parliament, London

A lawyer asked: ‘‘Is that the actress Catherine Tate?’ (pictured) Labour Deputy leader Angela Rayner speaks at a protest by unions outside the Houses of Parliament, London

Shadow Education Secretary Bridget Phillipson

Bridget Phillipson, Shadow Education Secretary

Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Jon Ashworth

Jon Ashworth, Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary

Shadow Secretary of State for Transport Louise Haigh

Louise Haigh is Shadow Secretary-of-State for Transport

Shadow Home Secretary Nick Thomas

Nick Thomas is Shadow Home Secretary

Here are some of the public’s comments when shown a picture of:

Rachel Reeves is Shadow Chancellor

Ann Stanhope, 42, a florist, of Rowley Regis, West Midlands, said: ‘She’s the actress in The Addams Family. Yes, Anjelica Huston.’

Angela Rayner (Labour Deputy Leader)

Scaffolder Dil Singh, 32, of Bordesley Green, Birmingham, said: ‘Is she on TV’s Countdown? Angie someone?’

Linda Caldwell, retired, from Glasgow: ‘She looks like the deputy Labour leader but I don’t know her name.’

Holly White, 23, a lawyer living in London: ‘Is that the actress Catherine Tate?’

John Healey Shadow Defense Secretary

Tommy Gannon, 26, a sales worker from London, said: ‘Is that Putin?’ 

Another man in Newcastle agreed: ‘That’s the Russian, Putin.’ 

Callum Walker, 28, a barber in Sutton Coldfield, told us: ‘He’s one of the dragons from Dragons’ Den.’

David Troop, a retired roofer from Aldridge, West Midlands, said: ‘For a minute, I thought it was Neil Kinnock.’

Bridget Phillipson Shadow Education Secretary

Juliana, 82, retired, from Partick, Glasgow, said: ‘Dunno. She looks like a Plain Jane.’

Nick Thomas Symonds Shadow International Trade Secretary

Ronnie Scot, retired, from Glasgow, said: ‘He’s the bloke who told everyone to buy cheap food and shop at Aldi.’ [Possibly confusing him with Tory Minister George Eustice who suggested people could help ease the cost-of-living crisis by buying value-brand food].

Retired midwife Mia McMahon, 50, of Netherton, West Midlands, said: ‘Is that the guy who was looking at the porn last week?” [Mistaking him for Tory MP Neil Parish who resigned last week].

Voters were questioned by the MoS in Bristol, Newcastle London, Glasgow, Birmingham, and London. 

Overall, the majority recognised Starmer – 24 out of 30 people in Birmingham and 18 out of 30 in Newcastle – but his colleagues were barely known.

The least identified was Mr Healey, the 62-year-old MP for Wentworth and Dearne in Yorkshire, who briefly made headlines when appointed Pubs Minister in Gordon’s Brown’s government, given the task of saving pubs from closure. 

John McManus (75), a retired priest’s view was typical. He told us: ‘Sadly, we’re lacking political heavyweights.’ 

And musician Ollie Heath, 23, also from Newcastle, concurred, saying: ‘A lot of people my age are disillusioned with politics and don’t want to engage with politicians who they see as self-serving and not acting in the best interests of the people.’

Former Tyneside shipyard worker and union shop steward John Brookes, 82, only identified Starmer from our line-up, explaining: ‘I bet few others recognised members of the Shadow Cabinet. 

‘It’s because a lot of grassroots socialists are disenchanted with the Labour Party and what it has become.’

Emanuele Berardi, 20, a chemistry student, of Maryhill, Glasgow, failed to identify any of the 12, saying: ‘This is harder than my chemistry exam!’ In Bristol, one voter mistook Starmer for Jeremy Corbyn.

Photographs of Anneliese Dutton (Women and Equality), Anneliese Healey (Home Office), David Lammy(Foreign Office), Steve Reed, Steve Reed, Steve Reed (Justice), Louise Haigh, Jonathan Ashworth (Works and Pensions), Bridget Phillipson, and Nick Thomas-Symonds were displayed.