Campaign Update : Yorkshire Regional Government

There is no doubt that the Yorkshire devolution initiative has come a long way over the past few years. Devolution was not really on the political agenda at all when the Yorkshire Party was formed in 2014. Now it has been recognised as something that might assist in closing the regional divisions between London and the South East of England and the rest of England. Limited city region devolution deals have been negotiated and very real, but also quite limited, benefits have been realised. There is no doubt that this is progress.

On the other hand, the benefits of “first rate” devolution are not even understood by those in power. The government prefers to stick to its imported US dogma of city regions or nothing (although it now seems to accept that there might be other “forgotten” areas out there). This approach has not proved as successful as anticipated in the US so is unlikely to achieve the expected benefits here. The government appears to have a pathological fear of losing control but its obsession with micro-management and the hugely complex structures that it has put in place to administer these processes have proved largely ineffective in developing the regional economies and closing the prosperity gap.

This presents a huge opportunity for Yorkshire devolution but the chances of it actually being achieved in the near future look far from certain. There are many reasons for this but one of the key factors must be the lack of engagement with the public by the devolution movement as a whole. The movement needs to demonstrate the public support that it no doubt has but, with the exceptions of Barnsley and Doncaster, there has been no real effort to do this. One Yorkshire has gained quite a lot of publicity, but does it actually campaign for its case? The problem for One Yorkshire may be that it crosses party lines, but this should not be a disadvantage as it is actually in favour of a form of devolution that would benefit all.

The Campaign for a Yorkshire Parliament has probably the best structure to take forward the initiative for a Yorkshire regional government, but it is currently not run as a campaign and who has actually heard of it outside the “devolution club”? The Yorkshire Party can act as a standard bearer for the campaign, but it would have to massively increase its presence and influence before it could have a decisive impact on the argument for a Yorkshire regional government.

The fact of the matter is that in order to be successful the movement for a Yorkshire regional government will have to act as a credible organisation and mount a proper coordinated campaign. Established political parties will have to work together with apolitical organisations and others. Individual organisations will have to combine resources and work together for the common goal. The Campaign for a Yorkshire Parliament might be able to act as a conduit for all this, but it will have to completely change its management structure and become, as its name suggests, a campaign.

Without a credible organisation and a campaign to take it forward, the concept of a Yorkshire regional government could either take a very long time to materialise or could fade altogether. The future for Yorkshire would then be rather bleak, despite what some may say about the continued existence of traditional counties.

We are prepared to take the necessary steps to secure the future of Yorkshire, but we simply cannot do this in isolation.

Follow the link to the Campaign Entry.

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