Welsh rivals squabble over campaign cash

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The Independent Online
Rival groups in the Welsh devolution campaigns yesterday turned their attention to financial matters as disagreements surfaced over the amount of money being raised and spent by the "Yes" and "No" camps.

The umbrella "Say Yes For Wales" campaign has already raised pounds 90,000. Yesterday the campaign took space in the Cardiff-based Western Mail to appeal for more. Apart from a pounds 20,000 grant from the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust to meet set-up costs, the campaign has relied on contributions from members of the public.

The "No" campaign is backed by the millionaire Sir Julian Hodge from his home in Jersey. Its spokesman, Matthew Gunther-Bushell, declined to reveal the extent of Sir Julian's generosity: "We have received a modest contribution from him. Full accounts will be published after the 18 September referendum," he said.

Leighton Andrews, for the "Yes" campaign, which, like its rival, receives no public funding, said it appeared that the "No" camp's benefactor was spending freely. "We are seeking an additional pounds 20,000 to counter the propaganda that is coming out. We do not have a wealthy tax exile to bankroll our efforts to bring greater democracy to Wales," he said.

Peter Hain, the Welsh Office minister, was on the campaign trail again yesterday. He toured the South Wales valleys, visiting Blackwood, Newbridge and Pontypool to build on what he described as the success of a foray in the Rhondda last week.

"People have a chance to help defeat the Tories for a second time and win a `Yes" vote next month," the minister said.

In North Wales, Jeff Rooker forsook his Birmingham Perry Barr constituency to team up with Martyn Jones, the MP for Clwyd South. They spent some of their time in Llangollen where at this time of the year tourists outnumber the local people.

Mr Jones said: "An assembly will make sure that North Wales is not neglected as it was by previous governments."

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