CONSERVATIVE MP Robert Goodwill’s endorsement of One Yorkshire, and his appeal to the wider Tory party to embrace the electoral opening that could soon exist, is significant for three key reasons.
Mr Goodwill is a former Minister – he held immigration, transport and education briefs – who knows how the Government operates. His Scarborough and Whitby constituency is on the eastern edge of the county. And his farming background will assuage those who do fear that rural issues could be further marginalised by devolution.
And, just as significantly, here is a senior MP who recognises that Yorkshire will be the biggest loser of all, and miss out on both influence and funding, if local, regional and national Tory politicians obfuscate because they fear that a Labour candidate will be automatically elected.
Elections don’t work like this – it’s why there were a number of upsets in June last year and why the Tories will be greeted by former John Lewis boss Andy Street, the Conservative mayor for the industrial West Midlands, when delegates – trains permitting – start arriving at their conference.
Mr Street’s victory in May last year wasn’t by default. It was carefully planned because the Conservatives identified an electoral opening and developed a bespoke message which resonated with voters.
And, instead of being defeatist about their prospects here, the Tories – the supposed party of opportunity – should be more forward-looking in their approach and coming up with a dynamic policy prospectus that appeals to the whole county as most councils, including Tory-controlled authorities across the North Riding, swing behind One Yorkshire.
After all, Mr Goodwill topped the 1999 European elections here, a contest fought across the whole county, and recognises that complacency does, in fact, lead to bad politics which benefits no one. “One Yorkshire creates a real democratic unit which is not a safe seat for any party,” he adds. It’s a message that the rest of his party should heed – and not be afraid of doing so.