THE outcome of the 2015 General Election and who holds the keys to 10 Downing Street may well be decided here in Yorkshire.
This proud county hosts many of the marginal seats the major political parties must win if they are to secure the right to govern, either with an outright majority, or as the lead coalition partner.
We will see the region become a major political battleground, with key figures spending a lot of time on our doorsteps as the election campaign gathers momentum.
Yorkshire is never shy of bathing in the spotlight. We are a proud county and have plenty to be proud about.
Not only have we stunning scenery, vibrant cities, innovative businesses and a world class cultural offering, we also play a strategic role in the politics and economic regeneration of this country.
Hull, is not only set to be the UK’s City of Culture in 2017, it will also service the biggest offshore wind farm in Europe.
This manifesto is a determined effort to put Yorkshire on the election agenda and to demand answers from the parties on how their policies will deliver for this region.Jeremy Clifford, Editor, The Yorkshire Post
Two major transport infrastructure projects will unlock economic regeneration north-south and east-west, through HS2 and HS3.
Sheffield’s digital sector and Advanced Manufacturing Park is in the vanguard of transforming our manufacturing legacy in the region.
There are so many reasons why Yorkshire is a proud county. But pride should not be mistaken for being blinkered to the challenges this region faces and the issues that must be overcome if Yorkshire is to fulfil its potential and secure the future we all want for it.
This election is an opportunity to engage with politicians from all parties on those issues and make our voice heard.
This manifesto is a determined effort to put Yorkshire on the election agenda and to demand answers from the parties on how their policies will deliver for this region.
Not all our readers will agree with every area covered or recommendation made in this manifesto. In a region as diverse as ours that is a near impossible task.
However, this document highlights issues affecting thousands of people in Yorkshire and sets out credible responses that would enjoy broad mainstream support.
It would be easy to come up with a long shopping list of demands requiring major increases in Government spending in Yorkshire over the next five years.
But whichever party, or parties, take power in May they will inherit public finances requiring yet more tough decisions to be made.
Over the course of the election campaign The Yorkshire Post will be expecting our politicians to explain how they will manage taxpayers’ money responsibly and our manifesto holds true to that message.
What follows, therefore, on these pages, is not a populist unfunded wishlist, but a carefully considered agenda that the next Government should pursue to improve the quality of life of those who live in the region and to make Yorkshire a powerful contributor to UK plc.
In some areas, such as transport, there are calls for more spending to address years of underinvestment and to help unlock Yorkshire’s economic potential.
But in many others, we are demanding the next Government be open and honest in its dealings with the region, to give clear commitments on when previous promises will be delivered, to cut red tape and regulation, or a request that Whitehall gets out of the way altogether and let Yorkshire get on with it.
Indeed, while a wide range of policy areas are covered by this manifesto, it is no accident that the first explores the future of devolution.
An urgent need to cut the size of Whitehall, secure better value for money on public spending and the constitutional debate triggered by the Scotland independence referendum have together combined to put devolution to English cities and regions back on the political agenda.
That momentum must not be lost and tinkering with Westminster rules to reduce the say MPs from the devolved nations have in English-only matters is not a substitute for Yorkshire taking a much greater degree of control over its own affairs.
For that reason and many others, this must be considered a crucial election for Yorkshire and the next seven weeks an opportunity to be seized.
Editor, The Yorkshire Post
IN FULL: OUR YORKSHIRE MANIFESTO...