The Yorkshire Party is a regionalist political party in Yorkshire. It was launched by Richard Carter and Stewart Arnold ahead of the 2014 European Parliament election. It campaigns for the establishment of a Yorkshire Parliament or Assembly within the UK.
The Party’s constitution rejects the whip system, and its candidates agree to abide by Martin Bell’s code of conduct for politicians.
Founded as Yorkshire First, the party faced its first electoral test when it stood three candidates in Yorkshire and the Humber in the 2014 European elections. Although the Party did not get any MEPs elected the vote was significant enough for the Party to launch the Yorkshire Pledge on Yorkshire Day.
In 2015, the Party was granted observer status in the European Free Alliance grouping in the European Parliament and has since become a full member.
The Party launched its manifesto in February 2015 with calls for a directly-elected parliament for Yorkshire, a Yorkshire Futures Fund to drive sustainable growth, a new “Made in Yorkshire” label and a public holiday for the region on 1 August, Yorkshire Day.
The Party’s 2015 election slogan is “A voice for the region”. Many candidates entered this as the the Party stood in 14 candidates on 7 May 2015 including ex Labour councillor Paul Salveson and Diana Wallis, the former Liberal Democrat MEP for Yorkshire & the Humber.
In July 2016, Yorkshire First was renamed the more “positive and inclusive” name of Yorkshire Party.
The Yorkshire Party has six seats on parish/town councils: Wayne Chadburn (Penistone), Tony and Eddie Devoy (Brierley), Bob Buxton (Rawdon), Peter Hemmerman (Market Weighton) and Lee Walton (Hornsea).
In its 2017 General Election manifesto “Speaking up for Yorkshire”, its leader Stewart Arnold said: “The General Election is an opportunity to allow the people of Yorkshire to set their own priorities to tackle the distinctive challenges our region faces.
“Yorkshire needs a voice. The Yorkshire Party will be that voice. It’s time to speak up for Yorkshire.”
The Yorkshire Party nominated 21 candidates for the 2017 UK general election. The average age of candidates was 35 with the youngest, Jack Render, 19. 20% were LGBT. The best performances were by Mick Bower in Rotherham recording 3.8% of the vote and Chris Pearson in Richmond with 2,000 votes.
The Party’s Autumn conference was held in York, a city that should be the administrative centre of a devolved Yorkshire, said Leader Stewart Arnold.
He told the conference: “After pressure from the Yorkshire Party, at the beginning of August, 17 of the 20 local council leaders in Yorkshire came together to call for a ‘one Yorkshire’ devolution settlement. This marks a considerable change of heart for most of them, as even until earlier in this year they were pushing for the divisive and undemocratic City Region.
“There is a lot of work for us still to do though. We have to bring all Yorkshire councils into the fold (this means pressure on Sheffield, Rotherham and Wakefield) so providing a united front when it comes to negotiating with the Government. In turn, we too have to demonstrate to the Government that the One Yorkshire solution is popular and the best way forward for Yorkshire.”
The conference was also addressed by Natalia Pinkowska vice-president of the European Free Alliance; and Nasser Malik, Chairman of the Yorkshire Enterprise Network.
In the 2018 local elections the Party recorded its best results. Among the highlights: more than 1,500 votes for Bob Buxton in Guiseley and Rawdon – a Party record for number of votes at a council election; Paul Phelps got 25% of the vote in Castleford and Glasshoughton; Tony Devoy got 27.5% of the vote in the Barnsley North East ward – the best percentage result by a Yorkshire Party candidate in a single member election
However, our biggest result, was in the election for the first Mayor of the Sheffield City Region (South Yorkshire). Mick Bower, scored 22,318 votes – almost 10% of the vote. He was third in Doncaster, Barnsley and Rotherham – coming well ahead of the Liberal Democrats, Greens and other, smaller parties. In those three districts, Mick was only a few hundred votes off second place. With 22,318 votes, the Party scored more votes in South Yorkshire than in the 2017 General Election, where the whole of our region was up for election.
In October 2018, the Party held its Autumn Conference and Annual General Meeting in Hull.
Leader Stewart Arnold said it was up to the Party to offer an alternative that captured the sense of grievance among voters but also directed the democratic upsurge in a new kind of politics, offering hope and optimism.
That was the message from Party Leader Stewart Arnold in his keynote speech to the Party’s Autumn Conference in Hull on October 13, 2018.
Chairman Arnie Craven spoke of the many changes facing the creation of a fairer Yorkshire. “And I’m here to tell you all, we are succeeding,” he told delegates.
And Deputy Leader Chris Whitwood said the Party must become a credible option to run the county’s councils and their services.
In March 2019, Stewart Arnold stepped down as Party Leader and, pending an election later in the year, was replaced by Chris Whitwood, with Laura Walker as Deputy Leader