The Westminster Government’s Treatment of Yorkshire is both cynical and Insidious

Neither the government nor the opposition recognise Yorkshire; levelling up is just a slogan; and devolution is a myth. Westminster cannot be trusted to deliver for Yorkshire.

The way the Westminster government has treated Yorkshire is both cynical and insidious. By not recognising Yorkshire as a separate entity, they hope to reduce its influence for their own ends thinking that it will gradually disappear and fade from memory. This is particularly relevant in outlying areas. Older people recognise that they still live in Yorkshire and that they are Yorkshire born and bred. Younger people do not necessarily have that same community spirit or such a strong affinity with the county, having lived their whole lives being told that they live somewhere else.

This is the typical act of a colonial regime hell bent on destroying the regional community, its culture and traditions for their own agenda. Less divide and rule, more the elimination of an entire community so that its people will toe the line and unquestioningly follow the wishes of the UK Establishment.

We cannot allow this to happen.

Yet, this is exactly what we have done. We have allowed this to happen. We have been manipulated into playing Westminster’s game and abiding by their own rules. It is nearly fifty years since the implementation of the 1972 Local Government Act led to the alleged break up of Yorkshire. Are we any nearer getting Yorkshire properly recognised as a stand-alone region with its own regional administration that has the powers we need to thrive and prosper? No! In fact, Yorkshire’s influence continues to fade.

It seems that we have been pursuing a policy of acquiescence by default. There have been protests but over the years these have been ignored by Westminster in the hope that they will simply go away. The protests have been quashed with the help of threats and bribery. Westminster controls the purse strings so they can withhold funding or maybe occasionally pay for some pet local project whilst reducing support for other aspects of local government funding with the other hand.

The One Yorkshire Devolution Proposal was the nearest thing we have had in recent years to some kind of breakthrough, but this in itself was also a compromise. It did not seek to build the region on the historic county. One Yorkshire did not fit government policy, so this was rejected and compromise, once again, became acquiescence.

There have been numerous organisations promoting either Yorkshire devolution or autonomy, including our own, but most have either fallen by the wayside or faded. A key problem here is the inability of these organisations to organise themselves and to get themselves to be in a position to be effective before they implode in acrimony, which seems to be the fate of the majority.

I am reminded of some words of Steve Mullins here: “I argue that Yorkshire is a state of mind as much as it is a county – a collection of like minds who can disagree creatively and amicably to bring a bit of common sense to the table, level the playing field in a spirit of common benefit and reach a mutually advantageous decision without waffle, procrastination and obfuscation.” If only! Here in Yorkshire, we seem to have waffle, procrastination and obfuscation down to a fine art.

Yorkshire still exists in its entirety even if it is “only” an historic county. A region is different from a local government administrative area and could have, and should have, considerably different and more extensive powers than any local authority. In my opinion, there is scope for Yorkshire to regain its proper place within the UK, that of the premier “county” within the country without this adversely affecting any local authority administrative areas or resulting in any conflicts or degradation of service, quite the opposite in fact.

What we need to achieve this is excellence in organisation, management, collaboration, policy and communication; plus, the determination to actually get on with the job and see it through. Surely this cannot be beyond those from God’s Own Country! The time for compromise is over. We want our county back and we will have it back on our own terms, not Westminster’s.

I hope you will join us in the new year at one or more of our events.

Richard Honnoraty
Transforming Yorkshire

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