Yorkshire : The Problems

This article was provided by Richard Honnoraty.

View from Temple Green, Leeds (An example of recent investment in the city.)

Yorkshire should be the best place in the world to live, work and play. For some it already is, but for others life can be a struggle. The UK is supposed to be one of the most prosperous countries in the world but the standard of living in Yorkshire is comparable to that of some of the former communist countries in eastern Europe.

The reasons for this lack of prosperity are many and varied. Yorkshire was one of the first areas to industrialise, but some key industries failed to modernise and withered, others offshored production and some were deliberately run down by UK government action. Many of these failed industries were not replaced or were replaced with others offering much reduced levels of remuneration when compared with some of the skilled jobs that were lost.

The fact that some industries were run down deliberately by the UK government without due consideration as to how they might be replaced might be considered, at best, wilful neglect or perhaps industrial vandalism. At worst it could be considered economic oppression of one’s own people.

Yorkshire does not have its own government. Some of Yorkshire’s problems can be attributed to a lack of leadership and influence that the fragmented nature of the governance of the region has exacerbated over the years. In effect Yorkshire does not have a voice.

In the UK most public funding is controlled and allocated by central government. Investment favours those areas that produce the highest returns so Yorkshire’s declining industrial position has meant that the county has been near the back of the queue when it comes public investment. This situation still persists despite government statements that it is committed to “levelling up”. A classic example is the curtailing of planned rail investment in the county as laid down in the recently published Integrated Rail Plan. This contradicted previous plans which had outlined significant investment in Yorkshire for both HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail.

In short UK public funding is grossly unfair and is biased towards those areas that are already relatively well off.

In the UK local democracy is largely financed by central government. Thus, local authorities are effectively controlled by central government. UK central governments are elected by the “first past the post” voting system which largely produces unrepresentative minority governments; i.e. the governing body does not require anything like a majority of the votes to form a government. The upshot is that decisions about Yorkshire are made by an unrepresentative UK government which takes no account of the wishes of the Yorkshire people. Most taxes are collected and applied centrally, certainly by value, so Yorkshire does not even have control over the funding it produces.

The UK establishment favours the status quo as this reinforces its control over all aspects of the state. It is, therefore, opposed to any changes which might dilute this control.

Summary

Yorkshire should be the best place in the world to live, work and play.

Yorkshire’s future prosperity is threatened by the continued lack of public investment in the region.

Deliberate action by the UK government in the form of economic oppression of the Yorkshire people contributed in the past to the decline of some of Yorkshire’s key industries.

Yorkshire has no specific representation in the UK Parliament and the representation the region does have is subverted by the unrepresentative nature of UK government.

Local democracy in the region is undermined by the UK government having control over local authority finance.

Yorkshire does not have its own government.

Yorkshire does not have a voice and does not have any sort of recognised leadership.

The UK establishment is opposed to any changes which might dilute its almost total control over the state.

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