Recently, the residents of Stafford received a bit of a shock when they realized that their amiable, beloved mayor was actually—not. As it turns out, their devout leader was just some dude with a fake Twitter account and a fancy-looking mayoral chain. God bless the internet.
Discovered by The Daily Mail, James Billington, the faux-mayor of Stafford, has been tweeting his heart out to his beloved constituents since March 8. His social media presence alone got him invited to ribbon cuttings, store openings, baby kissings—the man did it all. It's just too bad none of it was actually his job.
Some may argue that Billington oversold his role just a bit. But as any method actors know, to truly become the part, there can be no limit. And if that doesn't work, buttons.
Billington, cited by The Daily Mail as being in his 30s probably, has absolutely "no affiliation with Stafford Borough Council whatsoever." So it's understandable that, when the Mayor of Shrewsbury complained to the council about being compared to a Superman villain by a man he'd never met, the actual mayor was less than pleased with her fake counterpart's antics.
Labour councillor Angela Loughran, the real mayor, has apparently held her purely ceremonial role for the past 10 months. Considering, then, that the Stafford mayorship doesn't come with any real power, it's a little more understandable that an entire town might start believing that the man cheering them on is who he claims.
A spokesman from Stafford Bourough Council confirmed the situation to the The Daily Mail:
We received an email from Shrewsbury Town Council who were unimpressed with comments made on Twitter which had come from an account with the name James Billington purporting to be the "mayorofstafford".
As far as internet pranks go, though, this is one of the most benign, genius, and absolutely delightful ones we've seen in a while. For a few precious weeks, a town got a little more support, and one man got to be their king. Everyone wins. Well—everyone except the actual mayor and, apparently, the first lady in fraud.