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‘Yes’ campaign moving towards the starting grid

By Gareth Hughes

It’s ‘Back to the Future’ in the approach to be adopted by those pushing for a positive vote in the referendum on greater law making powers for the National Assembly.

It looks as if the campaign coordinator will be cabinet minister Leighton Andrews – who was secretary of the ‘yes’ campaign in the successful 1997 referendum.

Labour will play a lead role in the campaign with Rhodri Morgan being prominent in the activities.

When he retired as First Minister his popularity amongst the Welsh public was exceptionally high. Clearly, the hope is that this high regard will transfer seamlessly to a ‘yes’ cross on the ballot paper.

It is understood that some of the other parties feel that by putting Labour in a lead role it will force them to get their own supporters to engage in the campaign.

There is a feeling, especially in Plaid Cymru circles, that Labour was conspicuous by their absence in the 1997 campaign and are worried that history could repeat itself this time round.

Darren Hill a full time worker in the last campaign was seen huddled with Labour advisers this week discussing draft campaign material. It is uncertain whether these drafts will be used in the campaign itself, but it does show that preparations are at an advanced stage.

The intention is that next week all four parties will unveil the campaign strategy. But as to when the actual campaign itself will kick off is still up in the air. Why? Well, it’s all a matter of cash, your cash.

The Electoral Commission who are charged with using tax payers money to fund both the ‘yes’ and ‘no’ campaigns are unwilling to release public money until January. This has caused considerable annoyance and frustration to those eager to get the show on the road.

The latest ITV Wales and You GOV tracking poll showed two out of ten voters are still to make their minds up. It is likely that all four Assembly party leaders will press the Electoral Commission for a change of heart, so that campaigning can start sooner rather than later.

There is a belief that a campaign of more than two months will be necessary to get the message across to the Welsh public. Consequently, all four party leaders will press the Electoral Commission for a change of heart, so that campaigning can start sooner rather than later.

Getting all four parties to sing from the same hymn sheet is no mean task. But this unity of purpose may still not be enough to persuade voters to go to the polling stations.

The voters are likely to feel that they’ve been clobbered by politicians following the pubic expenditure cuts and may take the attitude ‘a plague on all their houses.’

Politicians leading a campaign in such circumstances will be a definite – no, no.

So beware if you’ve got that ‘X’ factor and are Welsh. The chances are that you’ll be wheeled out with other celebs to push for a ‘yes’ vote.

You can read more on this story including comment at Gareth’s blog ogarethhughes.blogspot.com.


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