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Betsan Powys | 09:34 UK time, Saturday, 19 February 2011

Talk about 'making things clear'. My bright idea of filming on Offa's Dyke yesterday on the way up to Llandudno turned considerably less bright the closer we got to Knighton. Plan abandoned.

In the cafe in the town centre they had plenty to add to the debate. Let's just say that where the referendum's concerned, the 'Yes' campaign have their work cut out. Powys has been forgotten by the Assembly Government, they said. They've done a whole load for Cardiff and then worry about Anglesey. "We in the middle are losing out".

Yet more powers? They must be joking. "People feel really strongly about it round here" said one man who'd lived in Knighton all his life.

He needed a dose of Labour's Susan Elan Jones. She kicked off the Labour Yes Rally in Llandudno a few hours later with some vigour. As one stunned looking party man put it, "she went off like a rocket!" The room loved it and loved the speech of a new leader many were hearing for the first time, even more. Ed Miliband called for a Yes vote "with all my heart". It was, he said, logical to vote Yes. Wales had "led the way" with its support for a smoking ban, free bus passes for older travellers and the children's commissioner. Unlike the 80s and 90s there was a Labour-led government in Cardiff Bay that could stand up for Wales in face of Tory imposed cuts. (The word 'coalition', as you may have heard, is out of fashion in Labour circles. It's Tory-led and Labour-led all the way ...)

He was not a separatist said Mr Miliband - they loved that too - but as a minister in the last government whose opinion had been sought on the bids for power to legislate that came from Cardiff, he admitted "a large part of me thought, hang on," these issues were devolved, why was he having a say at all.

In other words this is a two-for-the-price-of-one weekend. Labour's message: if you want to protect Wales in any way from Tory cuts, vote Yes in March, vote Labour in May.

Yes for Wales Chair, Roger Lewis, looked pretty comfortable on the top table. Another Yes for Wales colleague trailing the boss looked slightly more strained. "This IS a cross-party Yes campaign of course" he muttered, while Labour, next door, were very much doing it "the Labour way".

This morning the same support for devolution was there and the same rocks thrown at the Conservatives for trying to sell off the forests, for closing public libraries. There may have been one or two in the audience, or even on the stage, who might have thought about the post offices Labour closed and blushed for a moment or two.

There was recognition from Mr Miliband too that in 1997, at the time of the last referendum, big Labour beasts had made their opposition to devolution chrystal clear. "Let's be honest: many people in Wales had major doubts about devolution" he told conference this morning. "But let us declare here from this Conference: devolution has worked".

Rachel Banner, the Labour face and voice of True Wales, would question his certainty.

Russell Goodway would do the same and argue he - a current unbeliever - is speaking for many in the party whose concerns are going unheard.

On Radio Wales this morning Kim Howells - the biggest Labour beast the No camp have at the moment - took a different tack. He's questioned whether "the Welsh way" - so admired today by Ed Miliband - has delivered. He's questioned what it is. But most of all this morning he seemed to be saying that that he'll vote No because the issue at stake on March 3rd is so "trivial". A few weeks ago he described it to me as "flaking a bit off the constitution." Won't there be many in the No camp who might find that argument uncomfortably close to the Yes line that this is a "tidying up exercise?" True Wales have been utterly consistent in arguing that, is quite simply a lie and one that should be exposed.

By the way a big - in fact huge talking point in Llandudno is an equally huge banner showing Carwyn Jones standing .. .well in a way that suggests he's "standing up for Wales". "Carwyn-zilla" as my colleague Tomos Livingstone has dubbed it, is certainly striking and at certain angles looks, as I said to a Labour spin doctor who was passing by, as if there's something missing in the middle. "That" he said firmly "is NOT a story".

As if ...


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