Bernard Ingham: Stand tall for Yorkshire but stand together as one nation

IT is said that we in Yorkshire are Scots shorn of all charity. Indeed, our motto is reputed to be “If tha does owt for nowt, do it for thissen” .

The population of the three Ridings nearly equals the 5m or so north of the border. And North Sea oil or not, Yorkshire has at least as much economic clout and perhaps even more potential than Bonnie Scotland.

But just because roughly half the Scots have gone comprehensively barmy under the leadership of such treacherous tartans as first Alex Salmond and now Nicola Sturgeon is no reason why Yorkshire should proceed to lose its marbles.

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This is why any election manifesto for God’s own country must be founded in the realty of its membership of a wider community. For now – but not for long if the Scottish Nationalists have anything to do with it – that wider community is the United Kingdom.

Yorkshire’s economic health depends on that of the overall UK far more than the UK relies for its wellbeing on its membership of the European Union, whatever Europhiles and industrialists who have lost their entrepreneurial flair tell us. The eurozone is a millstone, not a rocket.

The second essential for any credible manifesto is to recognise that our senior clerics commune primarily with the fairies. The Archbishops of Canterbury and York write as if this were a poor country with vast extremes of wealth instead of being the fourth largest economy in the world with inevitably- wide disparities in property ownership.

Have they never heard of the Parable of the Talents?

Are they intellectually incapable of grasping the point that, short of cruel fate or neglectful grown-up children, people have no excuse for being destitute any more? And is their understanding of human nature so defective that they cannot see that food banks create an unlimited demand among the unprincipled?

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Cantuar and Ebor should get out more before they write their political manifestos.

Which brings me back to Yorkshire’s pitch. I shall be searingly honest. My potted appeal to the public would read like this:

Fellow Tykes: Whether we like it or not, we are citizens of the world.

Our trade has become irreversibly ever more global and the freer it is the sooner we shall eradicate the sort of poverty we have banished from our own shores – provided we also get rid of the planet’s remaining graspingly corrupt tyrants.

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This means that our prosperity in Yorkshire, as citizens of the UK, depends on the stability and competitive strength of the British nation. Our first requirement is therefore a healthy national economy. Unfortunately, it is only convalescent.

We must continue to nurse it back to health by eliminating the outstanding £90bn deficit and starting to reduce a national debt of £1.4trillion that annually takes more than the defence budget in interest payments. Otherwise, Yorkshire’s economy will be as unstable as Spurn Point’s shifting sands.

It is up to you to decide which party is most likely to produce a nation that lives within its means.

Until it does, all other objectives are at risk.

Assuming, as I must with Yorkshire folk, that you bring common sense to bear on your choice of government, let me now remind you that as a voter you have a further role to play to make a success of Yorkshire.

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It needs your determination to create a Northern powerhouse – to make Yorkshire a globally recognised place 
to do business because of its welcome 
on the mat and its go-ahead ideas, transport system, productivity, effective social infrastructure and the recreational facilities bestowed on it by nature.

It will not get all that without a better education system to provide the economy with skills and ambition or without innovative health care where the NHS and local authorities work together to keep Yorkshire fit and supported in distress and old age.

In short, my Yorkshire manifesto is an appeal to self-help. We expect too much – and too many of the wrong things – from our maligned politicians.

Certainly the elected government has to provide the right economic and ethical framework if the nation as a whole is to prosper and advance. But only Yorkshire can put the icing on its cake. And it can only do that by making the world sit up and take notice that it is the jewel in England’s crown.

You can start by making your intentions known – and no messing.

We need a new, resurgent Yorkshire spirit. Only Tykes can make Tykes walk tall.