What Would Success Look Like?

Transforming Yorkshire and affiliates are now meeting on a regular basis. We are looking at how we can be more proactive in promoting real devolution for Yorkshire.

This talk from Stewart Arnold at the recent Yorkshire Party conference has provided food for thought.

It has given us cause to consider what success might actually look like. It may not be anything quite as complex as a Yorkshire Parliament or a regional constitution, though these could well be highly significant in the longer term as the means to achieve our ultimate vision. Success in the near term could be something as simple as the recognition of Yorkshire as a region of the UK and the acceptance of our identity, culture, traditions and so on.

With this should also come some form of body to act as a focal point for all things to do with the region as a whole. In the short term this body might be more advisory than anything else, but it could have a coordinating role and could act as a key driver for all things Yorkshire; arts, culture, the economy, Yorkshire awareness, health, education, science, connectivity, and the list goes on. I am minded here of what the One Yorkshire Committee might have become if it had had a proper constitution and been fully accepted by the government as a key driver of Yorkshire’s future progress.

Just as important would be improvements to our economic standing resulting in far better public services. On a day-to-day basis better health, education, housing, transport and social service provision are much more important to most people than the systems that deliver them.

A recent article in the Financial Times Weekend Magazine suggested that public services in the UK might be in a “doom loop”. “Most public services deteriorated in the decade from 2010 under the pressure of austerity and then deteriorated again during the pandemic. It is not easy to see how they will recover, since many years of weak economic growth have left the UK somehow achieving the trifecta of high taxes, chronic budget deficits and inadequate public services.”

Yorkshire is in no position to withstand such problems.

Devolution is unlikely to be successful unless the resources are made available to enable those responsible to achieve their objectives and fulfil their responsibilities.

It may be preferable to have an authority with limited powers but capable of building its own momentum, rather than something that has all the bells and whistles but no resources to actually get the job done. This is one of the current problems of the mayoralties.

The UK government is generally hopeless at planning. We cannot afford to fall into this trap. Some people may think that independence is a solution as we could leave the shambolic UK systems behind. In reality independence makes things vastly more complicated as so many other issues have to be brought into the equation. If it is by mutual consent, then many of these complex problems can be resolved by the parties involved, eventually. If some are against the whole idea, expect the whole process to be subject to sabotage on top of everything else. Yes, independence can ultimately work but at what cost? If things are not properly considered, one shambles is simply swapped for another and everybody could end up poorer as a consequence.

Our vision is something that we must keep sight of at all times. “Transforming Yorkshire is all about Yorkshire; the three ridings and the city of York; for Yorkshire folk taking control of Yorkshire affairs; and for transforming God’s Own County into the best place in the world to live, work and play.”

Success involves more than devolution but the ability to achieve a good level of success may be much closer than most believe.

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