Jayne Dowle: At least Yorkshire is spared David Cameron this Easter

Prime Minister David Cameron and his wife Samantha pose for a photograph during their holiday in Playa Blanca, Lanzarote.
Prime Minister David Cameron and his wife Samantha pose for a photograph during their holiday in Playa Blanca, Lanzarote.
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THANKS for nothing, David Cameron.

Just as a new £1m campaign to promote Yorkshire to tourists in Europe and America is launched, the omnipresent Prime Minister pops up.

Where?

In Lanzarote of all places, where he is reported to be enjoying a family holiday after telling MPs that he needed “more time to think”.

We will leave aside the notion for a moment that the PM needs any more time to think than the rest of us do.

We will also not labour the point that, given the atrocious events in Brussels last week and the ever-more present threat to our own security, it might have been rather timely to hang around in Downing Street and look like a national leader.

Rather, let’s focus on the hypocrisy and arrogance of his decision to jet off to the Canary Islands this Easter.

Has he no shame?

It is only two weeks since The Yorkshire Post outed the Prime Minister over his duplicitous approach to promoting England as a tourist destination.

Remember that earnest article his PR team presented to us as a personal viewpoint highlighting the glories of Yorkshire, in support of English Tourism Week?

It turned out to be a formulaic piece of nonsense replicated for several other regions too, substituting the names of attractions one for each other and adding a bit of local colour here and there to provide variety.

It was spiked by this newspaper, and rightly so. It is also debatable whether David Cameron actually does know the difference between East Yorkshire and East Anglia, given the amount of notice he appears to take of the nation he is supposed to be in charge of.

Every county has its own attractions, and its own justification for endorsement. But this year Yorkshire does present a special case.

Our region was ravaged by the floods on Boxing Day and afterwards. Many businesses and companies are still struggling to come to terms with what happened.

In the Calder Valley, for example, firms are facing an uncertain future with no chance of obtaining insurance coverage. In Leeds, several companies in the Kirkstall area have gone out of business, such were the losses sustained when their premises got submerged by raging floodwater.

There are countless individuals and organisations blighted permanently by the atrocious weather our region endured this winter. Millions upon millions have been lost to the regional economy. In some places, it is reported that tourist bookings are reported to be down by 60 per cent.

The Prime Minister promised to do “whatever is needed” to help Yorkshire recover. Surely it wouldn’t be too much to ask then for him to spend at least a day or two of his Easter holiday here to encourager les autres? Apparently it is, though.

I could, I suppose, spend several hundred words extolling the virtues of Whitby and Scarborough, or point out some of the top-class hotels and restaurants to be found tucked away in the rolling hills and dales of North Yorkshire.

I could show him the bustling city centres of Leeds and Sheffield, direct him towards the historic treasures of York, or the elegant crescents of Harrogate.

Why should I bother, though, when the questionable attractions of Lanzarote clearly hold more of an appeal?

Frankly, I’d rather stay at home and take the dog for a walk round Langsett Moor than fight my way to the all-inclusive buffet, but that’s just me.

The sheer hypocrisy of the man, though. What must Sir Gary Verity, chief executive of Welcome to Yorkshire, think? His new promotional campaign is backed by Government cash, but nothing beats personal recommendation.

What better advertisement could there be for Yorkshire than high-profile individuals choosing us as a leisure destination? Talk about the Northern Powerhouse.

If the Prime Minister doesn’t want to come and see us, what about the Chancellor, George Osborne? Couldn’t he quite make it up the M1 this Easter to prove that “connectivity” between North and South he talks about so much?

I don’t know about you, but personally I wish the lot of them would just save their breath. I accept that the Government will have a busy schedule, but public holidays give senior politicians the chance to do that thing they love to go on about – engaging with the public.

We don’t need patronising “drop in” visits and PR-gush promises to help that come to nothing. We just need them to really prove that “we’re all in this together”.

Still, I suppose there is one bonus to David Cameron toasting his toes in the Canary Islands. If he is out of the country, there is absolutely no danger of bumping into him over here.

So go forth this Easter Monday and enjoy Yorkshire in peace. And urge anyone else you know to do the same, because you certainly can’t rely on the leader of the country to put his holiday money where his mouth is.