This section contains a selection of articles, letters and opinion pieces from members and supporters of the Yorkshire Party and from others who have an interest in Yorkshire devolution. It shows how much the party has shaped the debate over the years.
March 19, 2018
Chris Gauton, Yorkshire Party Executive Committee member, wrote an opinion column in The Yorkshire Post on future transport strategy. He said: “The failure of our transport system … is down to the short-termism of the Westminster parties when policy ideas normally run the length of a Parliament and have no substance other than political dogma.
“Politicians do not sit in traffic trying to get to work avoiding potholes in roads and motorways. Neither do they do have to stand up on packed trains trying to get to work every day. These are the realities of travelling around Yorkshire in 2018.
“What Yorkshire needs is a long-term transport strategy that plans until at least 2050 [and includes] a fully integrated transport system for the whole of Yorkshire where one organisation is responsible for the planning, construction, maintenance and operation of highways, bridges, railways, buses, trains, trams, bicycle routes.”
March 16, 2018
The Yorkshire Post says: “There are challenges ahead, not least with ensuring the Government does not use devolution as an excuse to abdicate its responsibilities when it comes to providing adequate levels of funding to the region, but the considerable efforts made in recent years on securing the best possible deal for Yorkshire may soon be paying dividends.”
March 10, 2018
Tom Richmond, Yorkshire Post opinion editor, writing in the newspaper: “I’m coming to the conclusion that the biggest threat to the One Yorkshire devolution deal is, in fact, some of the 18 council leaders and chief executives advocating this approach.
“Why? They keep forgetting that the most important people of all in this debate are not themselves, and their cushy job titles, but residents and taxpayers of this great county.”
March 3, 2018
Brian Winterbottom, from Netherton, Huddersfield, writes in The Yorkshire Post: “For too long we have gone cap in hand to those with the purse strings in government and where are we as a result?
“Be sure of one thing. The politicians who run the roost at Westminster will not wish to change the status quo and the power that goes with it. Yorkshire at this moment is crying out for strong leadership.
“It is time for this wonderful county of ours to punch its weight.”
March 1, 2018
The Yorkshire Post says: “… there’s a desire for this county to start shaping its own future from 2020 so it’s no longer left at the mercy of those in Whitehall who have thwarted this region’s good intentions on so many occasions in the past.”
February 10, 2018
Yorkshire Post letter writer John Simpson, York, said: “We need comprehensive electoral and constitutional reform, which we will never get with these two self-interested parties controlling the system.
“So when is The Yorkshire Post going to support PR, when a ‘Yorkshire’ party could get dozens of MPs to achieve power to develop Yorkshire, instead of the assorted party hacks we now have?
February 9, 2018
Bikatshi Katenga, the Yorkshire Party candidate in Huddersfield in the last General Election, tells The Yorkshire Post: “Only a Yorkshire assembly deal will deliver diversity and equality
“All the evidence says that electing metro-mayors does not encourage women’s participation into politics. The Combined Authority mayors in the English regions of Greater Manchester, Liverpool, Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, Tees Valley and West Midlands are all men – there is no female metro-mayor.
“We can contrast the situation in the English regions with Scotland and Wales which have legislatures elected by fair votes. In Scotland, until recently, three of the main parties were led by women and, of course, the First Minister (Nicola Sturgeon) is a woman.”
February 5, 2018
In the Red Pepper magazine of left-leaning politics and culture, Ian Martin, a member of the Yorkshire-based Same Skies Collective, rethinks devolution, asking if geography has been sufficiently understood as a driver of privilege and exclusion.
“Whether it is about spending money (such as prioritising and investing in London’s schools or infrastructure over other parts of the UK) or it is about creating a political and legal climate (such as one that benefits types of industries concentrated in London but not one that benefits types of industries concentrated elsewhere), London continues to be economically successful because UK government has decided actively to do something to make it so.
“Each time these decisions are successful, they strengthen London’s case for being prioritised above everywhere else in any future return-on-investment analysis.”
January 26, 2018
Stewart Arnold, leader of the Yorkshire Party, wrote in The Yorkshire Post: “I am pleased to see the plans for a huge investment in the Yorkshire’s transport infrastructure announced by Transport for the North. We welcome the report. We do feel though that this could have gone further.”
January 25, 2018
Stewart Arnold, leader of the Yorkshire Party, wrote in the i newspaper: “[The] preference for a One Yorkshire devolution deal should come as no surprise. Yorkshire is an identifiable community with broadly definable borders going back hundreds of years. It has an incredibly diverse landscape, economy and peoples.
“Yorkshire has ten universities, a broad manufacturing base, a thriving services sector, tourism, farming, fishing, dales, moors, wolds, minsters (including one of the great cathedrals of Europe), cities, market towns, villages, ports, beaches, cliffs, rivers and the Brownlee brothers. It has been the home of some of the greatest writers in the English language.
“Its inventions have made an impact across the world. It was the original base to some of the greatest companies in Britain.
“We remember very proudly the BBC graphic showing us finishing 12th in the 2012 Olympics medal count It has a huge sporting heritage – we remember very proudly the BBC graphic showing us finishing 12th in the 2012 Olympics medal count!
“Yorkshire has a population of five million people almost identical to that of Scotland and an economy larger than several EU countries. It has a flag, an emblem and a civic day. In short (and I am not the first to coin this phrase), Yorkshire is a country in miniature.”
January 23, 2018
R Spreadbury, Liversedge, wrote in The Yorkshire Post: “Here is an idea so our local MPs can make amends for scuppering Brexit, ignoring the electorate in general and their Northern voters in particular. Support a cross-party campaign for devolution for Yorkshire. This might give us a bit more say in our social and economic destiny than at present, not a hard task.”
January 17, 2018
John P. Hall, Yorkshire Party member in Harrogate, wrote in The Yorkshire Post: “Devolution is quite a hot topic … and, although it is often assumed that progress is being made through the appointment of city mayors, in reality, this is a misguided approach to giving regions the real power they need.
“This current method of operation divides the regions and leaves the smaller towns on the margins. EU development funds currently being invested in the most deprived areas of the UK will have to be replaced after Brexit.
“There is no better way of investing in these regions than appointing local assemblies run by local people. When public opinion is tested, such as the recent Doncaster and Barnsley public polls, there is an overwhelming support for a one deal solution for Yorkshire.”
January 13, 2018
Lord Michael Heseltine, the Conservative former deputy prime minister, writing in The Yorkshire Post said: ” My question for the Government is: if you look at what we have achieved in those seven areas, including Birmingham, Bristol, Liverpool, Manchester and London itself, what about the other conurbations? What is happening in Newcastle, Yorkshire, South Hampshire and the East Midlands – great areas of economic importance? What is the Government going to do to achieve what has been achieved in the seven conurbations in those that currently lag behind?
“It is politically charged – I am the first to recognise that – but the price that will be paid by those economies where people are not led effectively and do not enjoy sufficient local autonomy is politically unacceptable.”
January 13, 2018
John P. Hall, Yorkshire Party member in Harrogate, wrote in The Yorkshire Post: “A Yorkshire-wide devolution deal is the only deal that can really work for all of Yorkshire. It is one of the areas of the UK that has most to lose from Brexit. A bold plan is needed by the Government for enterprise in Yorkshire. City mayors can be quite effective in their immediate vicinity but smaller towns, market towns and large areas of the countryside are excluded.
“Having lived in the Thirsk area for many years, I know the people of Hambleton and can assure you that, given the vote, the likelihood is that they would back a one Yorkshire deal.
January 7, 2018
Michael McGowan, former Labour MEP for Leeds, wrote in The Guardian: “The words of Simon Jenkins are spot on about the urgent need for Yorkshire devolution and for the region to have a common voice in national and international politics (Will neglect drive Yorkshire to a Catalan-style revolt?, January 4), especially as relations between the UK and Europe are in disarray.”
January 4, 2018
The Guardian newspaper columnist Sir Simon Jenkins wrote in the paper: “A yearning to embed local identity in local democracy is hardly ignoble. When it is denied, as the Tories found in Scotland and the Spanish government in Catalonia, it feeds resentment. Why Theresa May should want to fill the council chambers of Leeds, Bradford, Halifax and York with enemies is a mystery. Since the Christmas vote, Javid has tried to sound emollient. But he is a centralist to the core and is fixated with his Sheffield separatists. He has stated categorically that ‘we will not consider a deal for the whole of Yorkshire’.
“Whitehall’s policy towards devolution within England has long been to whittle away traditional sources of local revenue, and replace them with ad hoc central grants, for which local politicians must grovel and plead. It is centrism at its most humiliating and demoralising.
“Regeneration, so desperately needed in Yorkshire, is not about state patronage but about local confidence and self-help. It is sad that Javid, like his predecessors, should want Sheffield to drift off into the mists of the Peak District. At least the rest of Yorkshire has the guts to resist.”
December 20, 2017
Press release on website of the Archbishop of York, John Sentamu: “Further talks on an all-Yorkshire devolution proposal have now been called for by leaders from across the political parties, from unions, and from business. For Archbishop Sentamu, these talks are an essential step towards a resolution that will maximise the benefit to all parts of Yorkshire.”
John Sentamu said: “It is time to consult with leaders of councils and civic groups. We must work together. Many Peoples, Boroughs, Councils and Counties, but One Yorkshire”
December 20, 2017
Chris Whitwood, Yorkshire Party deputy leader, wrote in The Yorkshire Post: “Devolution is not about creating another layer of petty bureaucratic government. It is about giving local people greater powers and funding to improve their local area and the lives of those who live there.”
December 6, 2017
Stewart Arnold, leader of the Yorkshire Party, wrote in The Yorkshire Post: “It was an inevitable consequence of what looked like a tailor-made deal for Northern Ireland post-Brexit that other devolved parts of the United Kingdom started to make their bid for things to be done differently.
“Yorkshire, of course, has no collective voice when it comes to these matters and, as with the negotiations as a whole, we are left on the sidelines unable to influence the argument and incapable of having Yorkshire’s best interests represented.”
“Devolved parts of the UK are jockeying – rightly – to get what is best for their communities. In my opinion, agreement on the One Yorkshire devolution deal can’t come soon enough so as to give us a voice in the future, in our future, before the opportunity is gone.”
December 6, 2017
Paul Martin, Rebecca Whyman, joint co-ordinators Rotherham Green Party, wrote in the Rotherham Advertiser: “Do we want to belong to the artificial economic construct of Sheffield City Region or do we want to come together with the region we have an affinity with in a wider Yorkshire Regional deal? And do we want a single Mayor to take all the decisions or do we want a Regional Assembly representing all of our political opinions and scrutinising those big decisions like the Welsh Assembly or the Scottish Parliament?
Come on Rotherham Council, give Rotherham people a say over our future, this is so important and could affect us for decades to come if not for generations.”
November 22, 2017
Stevie Manion, Yorkshire Party Don Valley candidate in the General Election, wrote in the Rotherham Advertiser: “In Yorkshire, we are proud, friendly, supportive, diverse and hardworking. We are asking for what we deserve, what other regions have and what is fair.
“Modern politics in the UK seems to focus only on London, the South East and only occasionally on the North. With a Yorkshire Assembly/Parliament, we will have the flexibility to act on issues that are needed locally: road infrastructure projects, rail projects and tackling school short financial coming.”
November 18, 2017
Chris Whitwood, Yorkshire Party deputy leader, wrote in The Yorkshire Post: “The Yorkshire devolution debate is rapidly becoming a tale of two futures. Representing the worst of solutions is a divisive and effectively impotent Sheffield City Region. The Government’s offer of an additional £30m per year pales into insignificance when compared to the Greater London Authority’s annual budget of £15.9bn.”
November 17, 2007
Nigel Boddy, of Darlington, writing to the Darlington and Stockton Times: “I do not understand the Government’s plans for regional devolution. It must be obvious to anyone that if this process is ever to work and engage the people the ancient counties of Yorkshire and Cornwall should be the starting point.”
October 28, 2017
John P. Hall, Yorkshire Party member in Harrogate, wrote in The Yorkshire Post: “There are no major downsides or disadvantages to the devolution concept – it works and it would be disappointing if the presiding government did not give it fair consideration.
” The most advanced example of devolved governments can be seen in Germany and Switzerland, both resulting in very prosperous countries. Many areas of Britain would benefit from devolution. Some areas, however, particularly near London , have no need for change. Yorkshire is one of those regions that is desperately needs to make progress.”
October 17, 2017
Peter Wood, Scaftworth Close, Bessacarr, Doncaster wrote in The Yorkshire Post: “HS2 will now bring little economic benefit to the rest of South Yorkshire and, because the route has been moved eastwards, some places like Mexborough are seeing new properties demolished and many more blighted. Sheffield’s blinkered determination to secure the HS2 station can hardly give Doncaster and Barnsley confidence that a ‘Sheffield City Region’ will benefit the whole of South Yorkshire and so a One Yorkshire devolution option now looks more appealing.
“As a son of York I care about ensuring prosperity for the whole of Yorkshire and better transport connections are important matters which can only be secured by a ‘One Yorkshire’ body.”
October 6, 2017
Dylan Thwaites, the Huddersfield-born entrepreneur, wrote in The Yorkshire Post: “Why do London school pupils get twice as much spent on them per head as those in Yorkshire? Why is it that for every £10 spent in London on infrastructure, Yorkshire gets only £1?
“Is it fair that each DUP MP who supports the minority Government earns £100m for his region, yet the 50-plus Yorkshire MPs have no such luck? And, apparently, no power or influence.
“It is questions like these that make me question the current situation. Yorkshire people are not whingers, but we do have a sense of fairness and wherever you look, it is clear that we aren’t getting our fair share. We have a bigger population than Northern Ireland, Wales or Scotland yet nowhere near the power; it is no surprise that we receive much lower public spending per head.”
October 2, 2017
Chris Sharp, writer on the CityMetric website, part of the New Statesman magazine, wrote: “In the pub, it was always the outsider that created the threat that achieved the improbable unity. What Yorkshire needs is an outsider to walk through the door and cause the Yorkshire councils to fight a common enemy.
“Helpfully, Sajid Javid did just that. The communities secretary recently wrote a letter to Yorkshire MPs letting them know how he wanted things to pan out.
Yorkshires response should be: ‘Where are you from? Westminster? What do you think you’re doing round here? Come on lads, get him!’”
September 1, 2017
Diana Wallis, the former Lib Dem Member of the European Parliament and now member of the Yorkshire Party, wrote in The Yorkshire Post; “It is excellent to see the idea of Yorkshire-wide devolution taking off and now gaining momentum. What does ‘devolution’ mean and why have the politicians of Yorkshire taken so long to sort themselves out?
“However, as we know too well from John Prescott’s failed regional referendum in the North East all those years ago, if the offer in terms of powers, accountability and transparency is not good enough, devolution could fail again 15 years on.
So some words of caution are in order along with encouragement to get this right this time.”
August 21, 2017
Matt Thomas, Yorkshire Party member, wrote in The Yorkshire Post: “The coronation of Sir Vince Cable might give some Lib Dems hope for the future, but there will be others, especially in Yorkshire, who will decide that this is the moment to leave the party.
“The Liberal Democrats had a disastrous General Election in Yorkshire. They suffered their largest vote share decline of anywhere in the UK. They lost their last two MPs in the county, meaning in the last three years they have lost three MPs and two MEPs. In effect, their entire Parliamentary representation.
“These loses are symptomatic of the fact that the Lib Dems seem to have nothing to say to the North and to Yorkshire in particular. One of the reasons that the Lib Dems did so badly in Yorkshire was that something like a third of the party’s own supporters had voted to leave in the Brexit referendum. So making one in three of your supporters feel unwelcome by inferring they were racists and little Englanders was never a sensible strategy.”
August 19, 2017
Picture: Robbie MacDonald
Stewart Arnold, leader of the Yorkshire Party, wrote in The Yorkshire Post: “If we want real diversity, reflecting Yorkshire’s community, then an assembly or parliament is the answer. It would go a long way to renewing politics. If we want the dynamism and skills many business leaders will bring, then by all means let them stand for election. That’s democracy.”
July 25, 2017
Stewart Arnold, leader of the Yorkshire Party, wrote in The Yorkshire Post: “I have a very simple challenge for those 17 Conservative MPs [elected in Yorkshire at the General Election] today: You were elected to represent Yorkshire constituencies. There are 17 of you. Stop putting your party first, and start standing up for Yorkshire. Tell Theresa May and Chris Grayling that you’ll no longer support a Government that is going to spend billions on Crossrail 2 in London but won’t even electrify a rail line linking the two biggest cities in the north.”
June 26, 2017
Chris Whitwood, Yorkshire Party deputy leader, wrote in the Yorkshire Evening Post: “If voters in Yorkshire can learn anything from the current constitutional crisis, it is that if enough of us support local parties, not only will we turn the heads of those in Westminster, but Yorkshire, once itself a royal throne of kings, could once more be kingmaker.”
May 31 2017
GP Taylor, the writer and broadcaster, wrote in The Yorkshire Post: “Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and London all have assemblies. We in Yorkshire are not allowed this democratic right even though we have more people and a bigger economy than Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Yet, Yorkshire is denied the ability to make decisions for itself. In 1974 our boundaries were changed and the historic Ridings abolished – not our choice. Governments appear to use a divide and rule policy when it comes to Yorkshire. This was clearly visible in the Northern Powerhouse debate. Northern power has to be based on the county and not cities within it.
May 16, 2017
Stewart Arnold, leader of the Yorkshire Party, wrote in The Yorkshire Post: “The General Election should be an opportunity to allow the people of Yorkshire to set their own priorities to the distinctive challenges the county faces.
“Obviously, Brexit is a defining moment in our politics but there are so many other important issues – education, health and social care, our crumbling infrastructure and our relationship with the rest of the UK. It should also be an opportunity to break open the devolution logjam which has held back Yorkshire’s potential for some time now.
“All the main parties should lay out clearly and unequivocally their plans for governance in Yorkshire. The sort of hints and allusions that Theresa May gave in her interview with this newspaper were frankly not good enough. Does she want city regions? Metro mayors? A Yorkshire-wide settlement? We are none the wiser. It’s Yorkshire, after all, so a bit of straight talking should be the least we expect.”
January 11, 2017
Chris Whitwood, Yorkshire Party deputy leader, wrote in The Yorkshire Post: “The lights of New Year fireworks hadn’t even flickered out before the esteemed pinnacle of journalism that is The Sun, launched a tirade against Yorkshire’s own City of Culture – complete with rather dubious sounding ‘quotes’ from unnamed visitors. What more reason did I need to visit Hull?
“Such cheap shots are not only symptomatic of shoddy tabloid journalism, but underline the repeated, indeed incessant, damning of the North by capital-centric media.”
December 14, 2016
Chris Whitwood, Yorkshire Party deputy leader, wrote in The Yorkshire Post: “Having visited Doncaster’s Tent City a number of times, one cannot fail to be moved by the sense of community that has emerged. Members of the public giving food and sleeping equipment, volunteers giving up time and energy, and a community amongst the residents themselves because, as it says on one of the tents, they are ‘Homeless but not Hopeless’.”
August 2, 2016
Commenting on the Brexit vote in The Yorkshire Post, Stewart Arnold, Yorkshire Party leader, wrote: “The level of engagement with local people, who mostly feel isolated by the whole [political] process, needs to be intensified.
“This is an opportunity now for a broader democratic discussion shaped by local people who need to feel more connected to what will be happening next May. The European Union referendum result also showed, amongst many things, that people in the North were tired of being neglected.”
July 28, 2016
Chris Whitwood, Yorkshire Party deputy leader, wrote in The Yorkshire Post: Could Pokémon Go hold the answer to poor electoral turnout and political disengagement?
“Amid Brexit political turmoil, and the voices of ordinary people are, as ever, overlooked. If this is the new political reality no wonder so many people are immersing themselves in an augmented world.”
July 11, 2016
Diana Wallis, the former Member of the European Parliament and member of Yorkshire First, forerunner of the Yorkshire Party, wrote about Brexit in The Yorkshire Post.
“For Yorkshire, it is a question of how and what the region can achieve in the coming processes and discussions.
“People need to be listened to and engaged in these at whatever level and preferably at a level nearer to them and where they live their lives. This does not preclude the pressing need to find a way of being involved in global and international decision-making in a democratically accountable manner.”
May 30, 2016
Richard Carter, one of the founders of Yorkshire First, predecessor to the Yorkshire Party, wrote in The Yorkshire Post: Sajid Javid MP, the Business Secretary responsible for taking the 250 BIS jobs from Yorkshire and relocating them to London, gave platitudes and nice words with little or no substance in his recent article in The Yorkshire Post. He talks about the Northern Powerhouse, but what we get is the Northern Poorhouse.
“It was good to see that he could tell Yorkshire what the Government was doing for this region in just 20 minutes. It reminded me of the hilarious Blackadder sketch about the 20 minutes – though that was about the life expectancy of recruits in the Royal Flying Corps in the First World War. Twenty minutes. For the future of Yorkshire.
“It actually shows they may say they have a long-term plan, but it would be nice to know what they have decided for us. There was no plan, there is no plan. No plan to address our under-performance as a region. No plan to create joined up thinking as to how we deliver a prosperous region.”
May 25, 2016
Geff and Helen Brook of Scalby Avenue, Scarborough wrote in the Scarborough News: “We agree with the Devolution of Yorkshire, the setting up of federal, self governing states, to facilitate fairness and confidence in knowing that Yorkshire is being governed by Yorkshire people, the money that we pay in taxes is spent in Yorkshire for the welfare and benefit of all the people of our great counties of Yorkshire.”
May 6, 2016
Nigel Sollitt, chairman of the Yorkshire Devolution Movement, wrote in the Whitby Gazette: “The great success of the Tour de Yorkshire for a second year running along with the determination to win the bid for the Tour de France that inspired that event two years ago shows what we are able to achieve when the whole of Yorkshire pulls together.
“Surely it is time that we had the powers to apply that abilityand determination to matters that affect everyday life in Yorkshire, powers to realise our full potential in the same way Scotland and Wales have.”
April 13, 2016
Laura Oxley, a PhD student with the Psychology in Education Research Centre at the University of York, wrote in The Yorkshire Post: “Yorkshire devolution is a fantastic opportunity for education in our region to be improved with new and innovative ways of working tailored to local needs.
“Increased educational funding and greater control over the spending of this money would have a significantly positive impact on the life chances of children and young people growing up in Yorkshire today.
“A devolution deal for the whole of Yorkshire would be a positive first step towards ensuring educational equality for all young people in our region.”
March 6, 2015
Bob Buxton, then Yorkshire First local election candidate wrote in the Ilkely Gazette: “Whether it’s education, too much new housing or our critically under-invested local transport, centralised government does not reflect the needs of our region. A Yorkshire Parliament with powers similar to the Scots will allow us, not Westminster, to decide on our priorities and allow us to strengthen the United Kingdom creating a region that works for all the people of our Yorkshire.”
December 31, 2014
Calling for a lower voting age and energise debate, Connor O’Neill wrote in The Yorkshire Post: “The issue of devolution is one that won’t go away after the Scottish referendum and the debate on English votes. Having control over our own taxes and spending and having more say in our own affairs, is for me, the best option. Who knows how to run Yorkshire better than the people who live and work here?
“Why do we need others to decide what is best for us? We don’t. We can have a fairer voting system that reflects what we choose here. We can spend money where Yorkshire needs it to be spent, not where London wants it to be spent.