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The group campaigning for a Yes vote in next year’s referendum on strengthening the Assembly’s powers has unveiled the Welsh Rugby Union’s Group Chief Executive, Roger Lewis, as its chair.

Mr Lewis has obvious appeal for the Yes campaigners – he’s an experienced media operator and, as the boss of Welsh rugby, linked with something that they hope will engender patriotic feelings without being tainted by politics.

Interviewing Roger Lewis. Photo by Natasha Hirst

On the other hand, as part of the establishment, he can be – in fact is already being – depicted as one of the great and good, the crachach who the no campaigners say are pushing for a Yes vote out of self-interest.

I’ll update when I’ve got the fuller views of the no campaign and when I’ve spoken to Roger Lewis.

Although not strictly a celebrity endorsement, his appointment has got us thinking about celebs who got involved in the last referendum campaign.

On the Yes side: Sian Lloyd, Stuart Cable, Ryan Giggs.

On the No side: Viscount Tonypandy and one Gary Speed.

UPDATE 1405 Th e Yes for Wales website wasn’t live when I wrote this earlier. It is now.

UPDATE 1555 Paul Matthews from True Wales – which hopes to form the No campaign – says that “Roger Lewis will be a formidable opponent. He has many contacts in the hierarchy and elite of Wales. When you look at the onfield performance of the Welsh rugby team it very much mirrors the performance of the Welsh Assembly in economic matters and education, which has been appalling.”

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As I mentioned yesterday, Danny Alexander’s remarks about the way Wales is funded undermine one of Labour’s arguments for a Yes vote in next year’s powers referendum. The Chief Secretary to the Treasury told AMs there’d be no reform of the Barnett formula anytime soon, regardless of the referendum’s outcome.

But at last weekend’s launch of ‘Labour Says Yes’, one of the main selling-points to doubters within the party was the claim that the funding reform had been linked to a Yes vote. You can read Carwyn Jones’ full speech here but this is the relevant section:

“There is now a financial incentive to get a ‘YES’ vote. Thanks to the Holtham Commission, we now know that Wales in underfunded to the tune of £300 million per year.  Bizarrely, the ConDem Government have decided, for some inexplicable reason, to link a successful outcome to the referendum to the reform of how Wales is funded.  In other words, if Wales votes ‘YES’ next March, we could get more money. But, a ‘NO’ vote will mean not just the status quo in legislative terms, but in funding too.”

But in fact Danny Alexander’s remarks make it clear that a Yes vote WON’T mean more money. Actually Mr Alexander said that what’s more likely after the referendum is that he would look favourably on any bid for borrowing and taxraising powers.

As my colleague Gareth Hughes tweeted yesterday, these two statements taken together actually help the No campaigners in their arguments.

Perhaps they’re following Gareth on Twitter, because on cue, the True Wales group has said today that the Yes camp’s case has been “demolished” adding that,

“True Wales would like to challenge the ‘Yes’ parties to let us know whether they will now quietly drop their line that voting  ‘Yes’ will mean more money for Wales now that in fact it means more taxes. “

You haven’t heard the last of this.

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