Think of children here without food in their bellies and clean beds to sleep in Boris Johnson – Jayne Dowle

WAS he talking about us? Are we the ones who are once again going to believe in ourselves and what we can achieve?

What will a Boris Johnson premiership mean for towns like Barnsley?

And like some slumbering Pennine giant, are we in Yorkshire really going to rise and ping off the guy ropes of self-doubt and negativity with better education, better infrastructure, more police, and yes, of course, enjoy fantastic full-fibre broadband sprouting in every household?

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Excuse my cynicism, but if Boris Johnson, the new Conservative leader and Prime Minister, thinks he can convince us up here with his thundering rhetoric that he really does have our interests at heart, then he has some way to go to make himself credible, never mind electable, when the inevitable general election comes.

Boris Johnson's premiership deserves to be greeted with trepidation in the North, says Jayne Dowle.

Even with the Northern Powerhouse Minister attending some Cabinet meetings in Downing Street, Mr Johnson needs to know and understand that there are two halves to England. Sadly, his limited 
life experience means that 
he is as yet familiar with only one. His own.

Meanwhile, here in Barnsley, at exactly the same time as he was delivering his victory speech on Tuesday, I parked near the town centre to go to the dentist. He’d find the waiting room an interesting observational exercise in NHS funding policies, by the way, but maybe that’s one for later.

Graeme Bandeira's cartoon of Boris Johnson becoming Prime Minister.

Anyway, I sat in the car for a moment and thought about our new Prime Minister and what I would be saying to him if he was sitting beside me.

I’d point to the rows of neglected rented terraced houses which have become ghettoes – and I use that word precisely – of bedsits and overcrowded accommodation for the poorest and dispossessed in our town.

I’d show him the bins which are overflowing all over the back lanes and tell him about the lady I spoke to once around here in tears because she can’t keep up with the proliferation of rats.

And I’d tell him about the little children who live in these houses, in rooms where the curtains are never opened. These are the children who will grow up to inherit the country he’s now leading; does full-fibre broadband mean more to them than the basic necessities of food in their bellies and clean beds to sleep in?

With the greatest of ironic timing, he happens to be selling his five-storey former marital home in Islington, North London, for a sum reportedly not un-adjacent to the asking price of £3.75m.

He’s reported to be pocketing a profit of £700,000 in the process, just as he gets the keys to Number 10 Downing Street and apparently buys a new £1.3m pad with his girlfriend Carrie Symonds.

I’d like to say that nothing could illustrate the gulf between him and those ordinary people he was talking about more poignantly than these particular property transactions, but that wouldn’t actually be true.

I could write a list of his embellishments so long it would fill an entire page of this newspaper; his Establishment family background, his private education, his obvious wealth, his various homes, wives, lady-friends and children and the kind of heedless confidence that only privilege can bring.

Some say that his success in the leadership race might well be the making of him. If this is even remotely the case, then his test in Yorkshire is basically two-fold; he must show that he is capable of devising and delivering effective political action, and he must also strive to show that he understands the complexity of the country he is now in charge of. And that’s a lot harder than promising us a giant sculpture of a sausage on the A1(M) and hoping we’ll laugh. I didn’t.

Top of the agenda is achieving a workable Brexit. However, at the same time, he must commit more than lip-service to the Northern Powerhouse. And, he must come clean about HS2 and HS3 and end the competing rumours from various Cabinet sources about their fate. If it is infrastructure he is interested in, it doesn’t come much more important, so he should address it forthwith.

And if we’re talking connections, he must choose his words carefully over that broadband pledge. What he might not realise – but I suspect he soon will – is that promising better broadband connections is not just some whizz-bang idea he can trot out off the top of his head then forget about.

To people living in our rural communities, it could literally be a lifeline, with the power to transform local economies, allowing young people to develop careers in the place they call home and keeping communities together.

He will learn that if he says something, he has to follow it through – especially in Yorkshire where we pride ourselves on keeping our word.

People have said that our new Prime Minister would make a good circus clown. Whether that is true or not, he now needs to start learning to spin all his plates at once.