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SO IT'S A YES FROM ROGER.

Byline: matt withers

FINALLY those who would like to see the National Assembly granted further lawmaking powers woke up last week and remembered to form a campaign.

With the referendum less than three months away, it currently has all the momentum of an Austin Ambassador trying to make it up the A484 through the snow.

Yes, the polls show a majority in favour of a "yes" vote.

But, as this column has pointed out before, that's based on ringing people up at home and asking them how they'd vote.

That's different from people actually making the effort to stop off on their way in to or out of work - on what may be a very cold or wet March day - to register their vote on what is, to most normal people, a fairly obtuse constitutional point, on a day when there is nothing else being voted on.

Add to that around 22% being undecided or "don't knows".

These people may decide to forego the trip to the local primary school. Or they may be swayed by the "no" campaigns pointing at a group of professional politicians asking for more power at a time when people are losing their jobs and struggling to pay for food.

Which is what makes the appointment of WRU chief Roger Lewis as the "yes" campaign's chairman last week all the more interesting.

For a long time, it was assumed former First Minister Rhodri Morgan would take the position.

He's "Wales' most popular politician", we were reminded. Which may well be true. But it's all relative.

It's like discussing what "Westlife's best record" is. They're all terrible.

It's just one is presumably less terrible than the rest.

No, there was a deliberate move to appoint somebody from outside the world of professional politics.

Lewis is hardly new to the world of politics - he works in the world of Welsh rugby, remember - but is relatively free from being tainted.

The "yes" campaign knows how the "no" campaign wishes to portray. The elite v the people; y crachach v y werin; Wales' political masters seeking to hoover more power into their hands v the rest of the population.

That's True Wales' strategy - the appointment of Lewis was intended to go somehow towards snuffing this out.

There are other advantages, of course.

Lewis is a familiar figure. He's well-spoken and articulate.

He's a Welshman who's done very well for himself in the private sector.

And there's an argument that anyone who survives four years at the helm of the WRU relatively unscathed probably deserves a crack at solving the Palestinian question.

But there are pitfalls. Lewis may not be a career politician. But, in comparison with the overwhelming majority of the Welsh population, he is part of Wales' cultural elite.

Evenings are spent at high-powered business dinners, not knocking back ale in Wetherspoons.

He may say "You can take the boy out of Cefn Cribwr, but you can't take Cefn Cribwr out of the boy", but it remains he is a very wealthy man with a contacts book that's a Who's Who of Wales' most powerful people. True Wales - who are almost certain to form the "no" campaign' still scent blood.

Another touch of the unveiling of Lewis as chairman is that it was held at a YMCA in B a r r y, rather than in Cardiff Bay. This is the message that the "yes" campaign will be desperate to send out time and time again as we approach March 3. Lewis said he intends to run a "people's campaign" over the next three months.

As a phrase, it's as wishy-washy as "big society" - who would ever argue in favour of a campaign which wasn't for the people? - but, again, it's a sign that the "yes" campaign knows what its Achilles' heel is.

So we have movement. We know who will lead the campaign, what their strategy is likely to be, and how they intend to fight off their opponents. Soon we will know the exact make-ups of both sides.

And then we can finally get going. Because at the moment the best bet for a winner in March is likely to be apathy - and that benefits nobody.

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WRU chief Roger Lewis is heading the yes campaign
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Title Annotation:Business; Opinion, Columns
Publication:Wales On Sunday (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Dec 19, 2010
Words:711
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