Why Yorkshire must come first

THE political stakes could not be higher in Yorkshire ahead of a general election that is widely regarded as being too close to call – the Tories need to win the target seats which eluded them in 2010 if David Cameron is to win an overall majority while Ed Miliband’s victory chances rest on Labour clawing back those bellwether constituencies that they lost five years ago.

Yet, while both leaders are likely to spend a considerable amount of time on the campaign trail in this region, the early indications are that their speeches will focus on the position adopted by their opponents rather than setting out a vision for a more prosperous Yorkshire in order for people of all ages, and abilities, to meet their potential and to lead better lives.

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It is because of this negative campaign – the political protagonists cannot even agree the format for the proposed TV election debates in a total dereliction of their democratic duty – that The Yorkshire Post intends to publish its own manifesto which will highlight a number of policy priorities for a region which is in danger of being further marginalised by the devolution of enhanced powers to Scotland in order to appease the Scottish Nationalists.

While issues pertaining to the economy, NHS and Britain’s relationship with the European Union will be intrinsic to the national debate, and speeches delivered by the main leaders, this must not be at the expense of those local and regional issues which are important to voters. It is why we are appealing for suggestions from readers before the framework is published, and why many of this newspaper’s agenda-setting columnists will also be outlining their own ideas next week.

In an era of negative campaigning, a regrettable by-product of the Americanisation of politics, it is important, more than ever before, that the people who matter most of all – the voters – energise the campaign and have their voices heard. After all, a strong Yorkshire should equate to a stronger Britain of the future, and vice versa, and the country’s political elite would be advised to recognise this.