MANY will regard David Cameron’s disparaging and disdainful generalisation of ‘Yorkshire’ as unbecoming of a statesman, and totally- unbecoming of an Eton-educated Prime Minister who was promising to preside over a ‘One Nation’ government on the steps of 10 Downing Street four months ago.
Others, however, will be more charitable and interpret the unguarded comment as the views of a Prime Minister who has become totally exasperated with this county’s inability to speak with one voice when it comes to devolution – and the unprecedented amount of powers and the resources that Whitehall is willing to relinquish.
As Mr Cameron acknowledged, inadvertently or otherwise, this is certainly proving to be a difficult process locally – six rival devolution deals have been submitted to the Government for further consideration and there has been dismay at the potential consequences of North Yorkshire being split in two if Selby, York , Harrogate and Craven councils decide to join their counterparts in West Yorkshire.
Yet, rather than making arrogant assumptions about political leaders who are striving to do their best for their communities, it might have been more prudent of the Prime Minister to explore whether the Government can do anything to overcome these local differences – the priority, after all, is improving productivity so this county can become an even more significant economic powerhouse in the years to come.
By drawing reference to a rather stereotypical and outdated view of Yorkshire, Mr Cameron’s gaffe totally overshadowed one of the most profound speeches of his second term to date when spoke in stark terms about the threat that Labour posed to the country’s economic security, and how the Tories want to put prison reform at the heart of a ‘smarter state’ agenda in which the public sector will be challenged to look at more effective ways to deliver existing services.
The Prime Minister only has himself to blame for this message becoming lost in translation.