A New Year, a new decade, a new opportunity. From me (albeit slightly belatedly), a very Happy New Year to all readers.
I intend to try to be as positive as possible in 2020 although, if you’ll forgive the pun, I never quite reconcile myself to the idea of 2020 vision!
Somewhat belatedly, congratulations to those new MPs who were elected for the first time to seats in Yorkshire.
You will feel, I’m sure about this because I did in 1987, great exhilaration. The belief that you can make a difference and that you will fulfil your promise.
I tried, and overall, if I might say so myself, I think I succeeded. Yes, there were bumps in road, there were opportunities missed and sometimes I certainly didn’t achieve everything that I wanted for the people that I care about.
But, on the whole, there was hope and aspiration and, if you feel that way, then grasp it with both hands.
The new contingent of Conservative MPs in Yorkshire must demand resources which we’ve been denied so blatantly over the last 10 years.
I’m not talking here about the meaningless changes in Treasury rules announced just before Christmas which allegedly – according to the brilliant propaganda bought ‘hook, line and sinker’ by so much of the media – are going to make it possible for resources previously denied to us, to flow mysteriously to the north of England.
There is a term I could use for it but, in this column, there may be gentle readers who would take offence. Suffice it to say that it isn’t changes in Treasury procedures, but instead a complete transformation of Treasury outlook and political will that is required (and as highlighted by the Power Up The North campaign run by The Yorkshire Post and other newspaper titles).
The resources that have been announced already for the National Health Service including the six new hospitals, and the additional 34 promised over the next 10 years were not decided according to Treasury rules. Twelve of these so-called ‘‘hospitals” are refurbishments of cottage hospitals in one single location in Britain: Dorset.
No, I’m not re-running the General Election, I am simply making the point that funding goes to where the Government determines it will go.
I don’t mean this just in terms of major infrastructure to rail or road or even, as I mentioned in my December column, broadband. This is about something much more fundamental.
For instance, it is mooted that those around the new Prime Minister are very keen to have eyecatching, iconic schemes.
Unfortunately for us, the idea appears to be to put resources once again west of the Pennines, into Great Manchester.
University research funding which should come to the White Rose Consortium appears to have already been earmarked by Downing Street to what they see as an easy ‘winner’.
The row over HS2 funding will not go away. What would you bet that after Birmingham that it is only the western leg that will be built?
The challenge for all of us, particularly for those new Members of Parliament, is to ask this question: why? Why is it that Yorkshire, with a population exceeding that of Scotland, is so often neglected?
Part of the answer is that for a variety of historic reasons we do not get our act together. We squabble about whether there should be a One Yorkshire, rather than city regions based on Sheffield and Leeds (and of course equivalents for the more rural parts of the region in North and East Yorkshire).
Well, if anyone had any doubt that we need to just ‘get on with it’, then the election must surely have put those doubts to bed.
Now it is up to us.
Even if people do want a pan-Yorkshire regional deal in the future, it’s going to have to be based on incremental change in the here and now.
As someone who has been banging on about this for the last five years, I don’t feel vindicated in any way. I just feel frustrated. Do we really have to continue shooting ourselves in the foot?
Oh, and by the way, if you want any further proof, minor as it may seem, that we’re being neglected, take a look at the New Year’s Honours list!
As in 2019, I will return to this issue when I have all the statistics at my fingertips.
But take it from me, Yorkshire has been dealt a pretty lousy hand when it comes to the New Year’s Honours.
The civil servants, academics, sports and media personalities, receiving knighthoods or their equivalent, or even (I don’t really mean even) CBEs, in London and the South East, demonstrate par excellence just where power really lies!
As the new Government makes decisions on directing investment, a fresh battle commences as to who will be the Leader of her Majesty’s Opposition.
In the past decade, Labour has been in Downing Street for four months. In the previous decade, for 10 years. If those in the party don’t quite get the message, then they are more stupid than the public think they are.
As they did on December 12, 2019, the electorate will have the final word. If the Labour Party doesn’t sort itself out, the electorate will continue to do it for them.
As with the future of Yorkshire, and for that matter, the Labour Party, getting our act together is the prerequisite to progress in a new decade.
David Blunkett is a Labour peer and former MP for Sheffield Brightside and Hillsborough.