ONE of my most favourite books is Robinson Crusoe. The hero was born in York and it was to that town that he returned after his adventures as a cast-away on an island. Crusoe has always been a hero of mine.
His creator, Daniel Defoe was familiar with Yorkshire people, having travelled extensively here in the 1600s. Crusoe was a man who showed courage, tenacity and strength. In many ways a typical Yorkshireman – which, by the way, is now a gender-neutral term.
The great thing about Yorkshire is that we have many real-life heroes to inspire us in life. The list of great people this county has provided is endless. If Yorkshire was a country, we would have finished 12th in the medals table at the London Olympics.
For me, people like the Brownlee brothers are an exceptional, modern illustration of Yorkshire heroes. Their achievements in the triathlon are endless and their success is beyond measure.
The Brothers Brownlee are truly an example of hard work, dedication and a desire to succeed. They show us that nothing in life comes to us without being worked for. I cannot imagine the many, many hours of training that have taken place.
What impresses me the most is the way they have handled success. They have a sense of humility about their achievements. You do not see them in the gossip columns of newspapers, taking part in I’m A Celebrity or Love Island. To the outside world they are just getting on with life and working hard.
It is the kind of example we need in 2020. Finally we can have a year which isn’t dominated by Brexit. At last, we have a strong government that has the majority to get on with the task of getting the country back on its feet.
For the last three years, many things appear to have been neglected. Thankfully, that is now in the past. As a country we can focus on the things that are needed to sort out education, industry and the NHS.
It will take hard work and effort on behalf of the politicians. We, the public, need to get behind the government with critical solidarity. It is no use doing a Rapper Stormzy and shouting abuse at Boris Johnson from the stage or calling him a ‘bad, bad, man’ on a visit to a school. People in the public eye should use their power on social media wisely. Gone are the days of division and we need to move forward as a nation,
This new year could be a great time for Yorkshire. Boris has promised to honour his pledges to the North. We all should remind him that the votes he got were only lent to him. They were not a symbol of everlasting support. He needs to honour his promise, as a red wall is soon rebuilt.
There is no greater opportunity than now to heal the divisions caused by Brexit. Hopefully, the Tory majority will bring about a more sensible era in politics. Perhaps, the anger and hate of the last three years can be put to one side and people of all political parties can work together to make our leaving the EU as easy as possible.
In an ideal world, I would like to see One Yorkshire take shape and for the county to have more devolved power. If it’s good enough for the moaning Scots, then it’s good enough for us. Sadly, I don’t even think the falling of the red wall will help the cause as the Tories seem hell bent on having a multiple Mayoral system for York and the Ridings as this is a quicker fix and weakens Yorkshire as a main player in the Northern Powerhouse. Hopefully, they will see sense over a united Yorkshire.
To make Yorkshire a bigger success than it already is, we need to come together and have a ‘Brownlee spirit’ and a can-do attitude. Gone are the days of negativity and division. Now really is our chance for lasting change and big advances.
It would be a dream come true to see our county as a leading player in renewable energy and conservation. A vision of mine is to have a new national forest stretching across the county, a green wall, becoming the ‘lungs of the North’. Boris has promised 30 million trees by 2024, let us have them planted in Yorkshire.
With little effort in 2020, Yorkshire could become the first county to ban single use plastic from being used. There would also be a case for Yorkshire banning 5G, as have numerous European cities due to health and environmental concerns.
This year will bring countless opportunities for the county. These cannot be wasted. It is so important that our politicians abandon their petty jealousies and mini empires and embrace a larger vision.
Yorkshire is not a collection of fiefdoms. It is a historic land that is blessed with natural beauty. We are just its guardians for this generation.
Let us follow the example of the Brownlees make sure that we hand it on to those to come as a better place.
GP Taylor is a writer and broadcaster. He lives in Whitby.