One Yorkshire devolution dream shouldn’t be allowed to die - GP Taylor

Since the time of King Richard, those in the South have always been suspicious of us in the North. This is something that I believe even Margaret Thatcher couldn’t get her head around.

Is a One Yorkshire devolution deal the best way forward for the region? Photo: PA

We only have to look at the valiant battlegrounds where brave Yorkshire miners took on the rabble of the Metropolitan Police to echo that. Take on the North at your peril.

There will be those who disagree, but I believe that there is a cultural chasm that cuts across this country. In the media, most items are London-centric and even the weather forecasts seem to be biased to the South- East.

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It was therefore no surprise when back in 2019 a politician with the apt name of Brokenshire firmly put an end to the devolution idea of “One Yorkshire”.

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The off-the-record murmurings of London-based politicians were that a united Yorkshire in charge of its own funding and political system would be akin to having an independent state operating within Britain.

They feared our Yorkshire mentality would mean that we would become headstrong and want to go it alone in every way we could. In one sentence, Brokenshire ended the One Yorkshire dream – “I recognise the ambition that underpins these proposals but they do not meet our devolution criteria.”

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In truth, London politicians feared giving any real power to the province of Yorkshire as this would be a real challenge to Westminster. Having seen the way Nicola Sturgeon has so brilliantly handled the Covid crisis in Scotland, it is understandable that they do not want another threat coming from the North.

Yet, politicians were happy to give devolution to Scotland and Wales that have smaller economies and populations than Yorkshire. How is it then that they have insisted on a bite-size approach to devolution “up north”?

Yorkshire is a brand famous around the world. It has a distinct culture and heritage with firm, historical borders. It is not a plucked out of the air creation such as Sheffield City Region, Leeds City or West Yorkshire Combined Authority.

A government plan that grants only Yorkshire cities devolved finances and powers is not fair.

What happens to the large number of people who live in rural Yorkshire? Who do we look to? What happens to North Yorkshire and the East Riding? Are we just left out of all of this as greedy city zones abandon their credibility and go chasing the London dollar?

A One Yorkshire plan would have been all-inclusive. One Yorkshire is a real entity and already has backing and wouldn’t need to be forced on the people.

Not allowing this is an obvious plan of divide and rule. Keep Yorkshire fragmented and they won’t cause trouble. It is also a political tool that will some day allow Labour-leaning areas to return an elected Tory mayor. Sheffield will be the first to fall to this political trick.

Historically, we only have to look back on the ridiculous concepts of Cleveland and Humberside.

These political creations had no meaning and were hated by the people who lived there. Again, more meaningless entities are being proposed and the Government won’t budge and give proper devolution to a united Yorkshire.

Boris does this at his peril.

Many, many people in Yorkshire gave him their votes to get Britain out of the Brexit mess. Those votes can easily be taken back if One Yorkshire becomes a political issue at the next election.

All it takes is for a Farage- like figure to step into regional politics for it to happen.

This Government has, as always, misjudged the feelings of the people of Yorkshire.

In a hopefully post-Covid world, the concept of a united Yorkshire with fully devolved powers and an elected leader would bring the county together. It would do great things to raise the morale of a county that is taking a big hit with the loss of jobs and a faltering economy damaged by a lack of tourism.

There is only one moral way forward with devolution and that is a united Yorkshire. Everything else must be rejected and those cut-purses willing to go against that should be called out for their divisive politics that are tearing the county in half and quarters.

Sheffield and the West Yorkshire Whatever will regret their back-yard politics and the snub to the rest of the county. Their chasing after the gravy will come back to haunt them.

When it comes to Yorkshire, big is beautiful, anything else just isn’t cricket.

GP Taylor is an author and broadcaster. He lives in Whitby.

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