THERE are few public figures in Yorkshire – or further afield – with the leadership qualities of Dan Jarvis.
A decorated British Army Major who served his country with distinction in Northern Ireland, Kosovo and Afghanistan, the Barnsley Central MP is one of a select number of politicians who are respected on both sides of the House of Commons for their consensual approach. When he leads, others follow. When he speaks, people listen.
A Parliamentarian who has been at the forefront of the debate on social issues like fuel poverty for many years, Mr Jarvis has proved himself to be a committed campaigner for the whole of Yorkshire. Using the experience that saw him rise through the ranks of the military, his debates – with the help of others – on both transport funding in the North, and Yorkshire devolution, have been instrumental in raising the profile of both issues.
He’s not flinched when he’s come under fire from those politicians, like Northern Powerhouse Minister Jake Berry, who’ve tried to be dismissive of this region’s priorities and he’s been working painstakingly, both publicly and behind-the-scenes, for a year to advance the One Yorkshire devolution model that would enable this proud county to take command of its future. Lesser leaders would have given up by now, but he can see the bigger picture and potential prize.
As such, he does appear, at this stage, to be the outstanding choice to be Labour’s candidate in the forthcoming Sheffield City Region mayoral election. Though this role appears, at face value, to be at odds with his principled stance on One Yorkshire, he would use his election to this new role to not only champion South Yorkshire’s most pressing needs, but use his dual status – as mayor and MP – to broker the countywide devolution deal that does appear, finally, to be within this region’s grasp.
Not many politicians are prepared to stand for a job that they wish to abolish. But then not many visionaries have the acumen, both political and strategic, that Dan Jarvis clearly has in abundance.