A Vision for Yorkshire

York Minster Yorkshire Day

Transforming Yorkshire’s vision is as follows: “Transforming Yorkshire is all about Yorkshire, the three ridings and the city of York; for Yorkshire folk taking control of Yorkshire’s affairs; and, for Transforming God’s Own County into the best place in the world to live, work and play.”

This could also be stated in the following terms:

1.           We want the geographical integrity of Yorkshire and the existence of the Yorkshire Community to be recognised.

2.           We want self-determination for Yorkshire so that Yorkshire people run Yorkshire’s affairs.

3.           We want the ability to set our own agenda and to realise Yorkshire’s full potential for the benefit of all who live here. (We cannot accept that Yorkshire’s future should be put at risk to satisfy the self interest of the UK political establishment.)

Basically, we want what is best for Yorkshire and the people of the county. Our progress in this area could be measured using the Human Development Index (HDI) which may not be a perfect measure, but it is probably better than GDP. The UK may be the 5th largest economy, but it comes 13th when it comes to HDI and that is for the whole of the UK. Regional disparities do not figure in either of these calculations. (Simon Duffy’s article “Colonialism 3.0” provides some interesting insight in this area.)

https://simonduffy.info/blog/colonialism-version-3

What is immediately apparent is that a Yorkshire Parliament, a constitutional settlement for Yorkshire and other forms of devolution are not the end in themselves but simply various means of achieving our goals. We must not lose sight of our ultimate vision for Yorkshire by simply pursuing these intermediate objectives.

What is also apparent is that such a vision is unlikely to be delivered by the UK political system unless there are significant changes in Westminster and Whitehall. In fact, it is the UK government that seems to be largely responsible for most of our problems. The UK government was responsible for the attempted dismemberment of our county. The UK government is largely responsible for the relative decline in our living standards. It would be extremely naive to expect the UK government to solve our problems.

A political system based on privilege, decadence and incompetence which seems to be mired in allegations of corruption hardly seems to be the right vehicle to get to grips with the key problems that it faces.

While ever UK Parliamentary Sovereignty exists in its current form, the UK political establishment cannot provide adequate terms for any devolution settlement. The only way for Yorkshire to thrive is as an autonomous region. Therefore, we must be careful when talking about a “Yorkshire devolution deal within the UK”. The vision also implies that we should not do anything to the detriment of Yorkshire and its people. Is this an intractable problem? Maybe not, but how the vision is fulfilled could depend as much on the UK as on Yorkshire itself.

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