While progress on the ground remains painfully slow, there is no doubt that the last five years have seen a significant shift in the way Westminster politicians talk about the North.
From “northern powerhouse” to “northern hub”, one of the few positives to have emerged from the economic pain of recent years has been a recognition by the political elite that life exists beyond the South East and that all parts of the UK need to be firing for a prosperous UK economy.
But Yorkshire is not just part of a homogeneous ‘North’, it is a vibrant and diverse region with its own distinctive character. Recognising regional diversity is about more than shifting where decisions are made and money is spent.
Given the crumbling state of the Palace of Westminster, it is entirely possible in the coming years MPs may find themselves looking for a new, albeit temporary, home while it is repaired. In the meantime, there is no reason why the business of government should all be conducted in the capital.
David Cameron brought the Cabinet to Yorkshire in 2013 but it is time to put this welcome gesture onto a firm footing.
Committing to an annual Cabinet meeting in Yorkshire would be about more than the country’s senior politicians sitting around a table in Leeds or Sheffield rather than in Downing Street.
A part of the UK that has stunning beauty and successful businesses; that has a fascinating history and a bright future.Prime Minister David Cameron, July 2014
It would be an opportunity for Ministers to collectively spend a day in the region learning about the opportunities and challenges facing Yorkshire.
Yorkshire is fortunate to have had a weighty voice at the Cabinet table in the shape of William Hague since 2010 and should Labour win in May, a significant number of Labour’s cabinet are likely to have seats in this region,
But that is no substitute for having a Minister for Yorkshire, someone who can be held accountable for what the Government of the day is or is not delivering for the region, who can break down the barriers between Whitehall departments to stop important initiatives being bogged down in red tape and a voice for Yorkshire at the heart of the administration.
This need not be an addition to the Government payroll, this would be a duty carried out by a Yorkshire MP already in another Ministerial role.
The failure to honour Welcome to Yorkshire chief executive Gary Verity following the stellar success of this region’s hosting of the Tour de France over two days in July 2014 was baffling.
Many across the region found themselves wondering if securing and staging a world-class sporting event that brought 3.3 million people onto Yorkshire’s streets and generated £100m for the local economy, as well as putting the region on the global stage, was not enough to gain recognition, what was?
That reaction was a symptom of a wider unease at an honours system that, despite commitments from recent administrations, continues to put glamour and political patronage above recognition for the valuable contribution people make to their communities.
Yorkshire should be able to ask the Queen to honour its own, to say thank you for volunteering, for going the extra mile, for improving the lives of others, for representing the best of Yorkshire, for making this region the amazing place it is.
And for one day a year, we think the country should be reminded that Yorkshire is God’s Own County. So it would be appropriate for the White Rose to fly over Government buildings on Yorkshire Day.
IN FULL: OUR YORKSHIRE MANIFESTO...