Yorkshire needs mayoral voices to make Cameron listen

From: Dan Laythorpe, Kendal Bank, Little Woodhouse, Leeds.

WHOLEHEARTED good luck to the Yorkshire Post’s “Fair deal for Yorkshire” campaign calling for radical redress of the gross disparities that have emerged between the economies of London and the south east and of Yorkshire (Yorkshire Post, July 9).

The fact that English regional local authorities have fewer powers and autonomy than those of the capital have greatly contributed to this situation, particularly since the recession.

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It is gratifying, then, to hear from articulate and intelligent contributors such as Centre for Cities’ Rachel Smith (Yorkshire Post, July 12) who promotes for the wider West Yorkshire region the notion of a single mayor in the style of London’s influential and effective civic leader.

Professor Karel Williams (Yorkshire Post, July 12) advocates, among other things, empowerment of regional government to kick-start job creation in the north. Caroline Flint, Shadow Communities and Local Government Secretary and MP for Don Valley, similarly makes a valuable and spirited assertion that northern, and indeed other extra-Metropolitan regions, should have civic leadership with the status and powers as Boris Johnson has as London’s mayor.

Regrettably, however, Ms Flint and numerous other northern MPs like her remained decidedly muted on these matters while in office under New Labour. We all knew Blair’s, and to a lesser extent, Brown’s disdain for matters northern, especially for example, social housing, transport infrastructure and care for the elderly.

Certainly, it seems that in the light of the Yorkshire Post campaign, a radical shake-up is needed in West Yorkshire or the so-called Leeds city region. Rachel Smith’s proposal of a “metro mayor” covering the same area of the city economy and furnished with the best aspects and powers of the London mayoral model – which should be made available to England’s largest cities” – to be recommended as long as the “metro mayor” has jurisdiction over the whole Metropolitan county or economic region.

To have separate such mayors for, say, Leeds, Bradford and Wakefield would lead to disunity and incoherence. The London model clearly, whether under Livingstone or Johnson (preferably the former) has been hugely beneficial for the capital. We ought to have the opportunity and powers to let it operate in West Yorkshire whether it be in metropolitan county or wider Leeds city region. Take note, Cameron, Yorkshire has spoken!

From: Rev PN Hayward, Allonby, Maryport, Cumbria.

YOUR vigorous front-page challenge (Yorkshire Post, June 9) to the Prime Minister is timely.

He has apparently forgotten that Yorkshire gains substantially contributed to his rise to power in 2010. He would appear to have little affinity with the county, or indeed with the entire north. And his inadequacies go much further.

It was impossible for the Labour Party to win last year. They were the people in power when the expenses scandal was uncovered, and most of those jailed were Labour MPs. The economic crises, although global, also began during their watch. And 13 years in power was long enough. But in fact Labour totalled 258 seats, and with a Liberal standstill Cameron missed an open goal, and had to settle for an inconvenient coalition.

His premiership is one of U-turns, apologies, and now unpleasant Murdoch associations. Yet when he berates Gaddafi he uses language demanding his dismissal unheard from a British Prime Minister against a foreign leader since Chamberlain and Churchill were fighting Hitler. Cameron is playing with fire. In all too many post-war risings, a military dictatorship has been thrown up, as indeed in Libya itself in 1969.

Meanwhile a general election in Egypt is neither proof nor guarantee of sound democracy. To name four recent examples, those in Zimbabwe, Afghanistan, Iraq and Iran have been vitiated by corruption, fraud and violence.

Even after five leaders in 15 years the Conservative Party should find somebody else before Cameron’s tongue runs away with him any further and before he does any more damage.