New Leader Chris Whitwood has outlined his vision for Yorkshire in a passionate article assessing the Party’s impact and looking ahead to its ambitions to improve the lives of people living in the county.
Chris Whitwood: hearalding the opportunities for Yorkshire and its people
Picture: Robbie MacDonald
“I have been moved by the heart-warming messages of support that I have received since becoming Leader of the Yorkshire Party and am thrilled by the enthusiasm of members keen to help out in the forthcoming local elections.
“When I first joined the Yorkshire Party in 2014, it was little more than a small group of people with a big idea. To echo the words of founding Leader Richard Carter, the Yorkshire Party seeks nothing less than the civic, social and economic renewal of our region by demanding meaningful devolved powers for Yorkshire. This vision remains at the heart of everything we do.
“As the party celebrates its fifth birthday, I look back with immense pride at what we have all achieved. In 2014, Yorkshire devolution was not even being discussed. Now, the question is not ‘if’ but ‘when’.
“Building a political party is not easy. There are sometimes disagreements and differences of opinion but while we have grown and developed as an organisation, our unifying ambition has always remained the same.
“I passionately believe in what we set out to achieve – namely, a mission to improve the lives of everyone living in Yorkshire. This cannot be achieved by one person. But we, together, have built something that is greater than any individual.
“I got into politics almost by chance. For the past 17 years, I have been a member of first aid charity St John Ambulance and it was a fervent belief that first aid is a skill that everyone deserves to have that led me to campaign for life-saving skills to be part of the school curriculum. I am pleased to say that from 2020 it will be.
“Seeing that my fellow campaigners and I could contribute to a change in legislation that will save hundreds if not thousands of lives, gives me hope for the positive role politics can play in our lives.
“I joined the Yorkshire Party because I believe we can play a positive role.
“In one of the first public speeches I ever gave to for the party, I argued that despite 21st century technology making it easier to communicate than ever before, too many people have felt too disenfranchised for too long. We not only seek to change that, we have a genuine solution and a growing number of evidence-based policies that will help us have a positive impact on the lives of people living in Yorkshire.
“I know that it’s not easy to keep sight of these positives. Hope can very easily be lost through the haze of cynicism, petty squabbles and tribal animosity but we must strive to rise above it. Right now, the country is desperately in need of hope.
“Our vision is ambitious and our vision is one of hope.
“Devolution is a means to an end. We do not obsess about constitutional reform but we believe changing the way the UK works is the best way to address the real issues people face every day – be they the state of the roads, overcrowded trains making commuting to work unreliable, or failures in our schools and hospitals.
“We are dedicated to ensuring every child in Yorkshire receives a world class education .
“We are ambitious for our economy, ensuring prosperity through public investment, jobs and creative enterprise.
“We are passionate about connecting our region, upgrading antiquated transport networks and bringing people together through better communication.
“We are resolute in our belief that whatever the outcome of Brexit, the Yorkshire Party has a duty to do our utmost to heal the divide that has appeared in our communities.
“And for the Yorkshire Party, I want to build a culture of inclusivity and opportunity, where every member who wants to get involved knows their ideas are valued and they have a role to play.
“This May, we will be standing more candidates than ever, championing the Yorkshire Party’s aims and values right across Yorkshire. For as long as I have the honour of leading the Party, I want to support and celebrate these candidates and help them achieve fantastic results.
“Ultimately, we must inspire people to believe things can be better; that they can be ambitious for themselves, their family, their friends and their community; that it is possible to build a Yorkshire of fairness and opportunity; and that they can be the ones to shape Yorkshire. We can make that difference.
“That is our goal: through our campaigns, policies and actions, to inspire everyone in Yorkshire to make a difference.
“Together we can and will build a stronger Yorkshire in a fairer United Kingdom.”
Join us in the Yorkshire Party at https://www.yorkshireparty.org.uk/membership/