By Wayne Chadburn, Yorkshire Party member
Almost three years ago the UK held a referendum on its membership of the European Union. By 52% to 48% the UK voted to leave the EU.
At that point our country split and all of a sudden instead of politics and society being a spectrum of opinion, it became a binary world. Everybody and everything now seem to be defined by leave or remain. I am now in my 50th year and I’ve seen the rise and fall of Margaret Thatcher, the rise and fall of Tony Blair, the miners’ strike, the introduction and removal of the poll tax, wars in the Falklands, Iraq, Afghanistan, the troubles in Northern Ireland, terrorist attacks in London and Manchester, 13 general elections, nine Prime Ministers, three UK-wide and I have never seen our country so divided and our politics so nasty and vile as it is today.
In the more than 1,000 days since the last referendum, let us look what has happened to Yorkshire:
Each Yorkshire child still gets £2,000 less spent on their education compared to the same child living in London
Yorkshire still has one of the highest unemployment rates in the UK and one of the slowest to change.
Yorkshire has the second lowest level of disposable income in England – a London family has 66% more money to spend when bills are taken out of the equation, than a family in Yorkshire; and this gap is growing.
Yorkshire has the second lowest productivity rate in England and the slowest growing productivity rate – London tops both these.
We still only get £1 spent on our transport infrastructure per person compared with the £9 per head spent on London’s.
None of these facts will be discussed by the main parties because all they want to do is fight amongst themselves to gain some sort of electoral mandate for their version of leave or remain.
In fewer than two weeks we get to vote in a set of elections our politicians assured us we would never have again.
All the media and the main national political parties want to talk about is which side of the battle of the binary world do you favour. All they think matters is whether you want to vote to leave or remain but in a slightly more nuanced way than you were offered three years ago.
If you want to leave, do you want the deal Theresa May has offered (vote Conservative) or do you want to leave without a deal? (vote Brexit Party or if you fancy a little bit of a xenophobic and bigoted tinge, vote UKIP) Or, do you want to vote to remain and opt for a second referendum? (vote Lib Dem, Change or Green because they couldn’t agree an electoral pact between themselves – doesn’t fill you with a great deal of optimism for how they can converge on a remain destination does it?) Or, do you want to vote or a party which sits on the fence and fudges the issue (vote Labour).
At least in Yorkshire and the Humber, there is another way … another option.
While the media and the major parties believe this is a surrogate second referendum, the fact is that this election decides nothing. It won’t determine whether we leave with a deal, leave without a deal, hold a second referendum or just repeal Article 50.
The only people who can decide this are the 650 members of parliament and none of these are up for election. The arithmetic of Brexit is not going to change after the EU elections – the same MPs will still be making the same tired arguments to the same divided House of Commons and we, the people, will continue to look on aghast and disgusted at the laughing stock they are making of our country internationally.
There will be only one party in Yorkshire looking to the future and making the argument that each of our children gets the same sort of funding their London counterparts.
There will be only one party arguing the end to the travesty of a London traveller being worth nine times as much as a Yorkshire traveller.
There will only be one party arguing that powers need to be devolved to our region to improve our levels of productivity and disposable income.
That party is of course the Yorkshire Party. Just imagine the impact and the message it would send if we could get a Yorkshire Party MEP elected against the vested interests of the national, Westminster based parties and media. Imagine if we could elect two!
It may be possible, with the electoral system being used (the d’Hondt system) for the Yorkshire Party to get an MEP elected with 10% to 13% of the regional vote, and this is definitely possible.
When we have stood in the recent local council elections, the Yorkshire Party usually gained more than this because when people hear the positive vision for the future the Yorkshire Party has, they vote for it.
The Yorkshire Party is not a joke or single-issue party. We aren’t xenophobic or elitist. We are the only party on the ballot paper wanting to get past the negative childish bickering and deal with the serious issue of reducing the unfair inequalities we in this region have to suffer.
Despite what the Westminster parties say, this is not a binary world and it isn’t a binary election. You don’t have to be sucked into the internecine and negative arguments peddled by the Westminster parties.
You have the opportunity to vote for a party that is looking beyond Brexit and looking to turn our region into an economic, intellectual and social powerhouse within a strong UK.
On May 23, you can vote for yah-boo politics and inertia or you can vote for positivity and progress. Look at the Yorkshire Party EU manifesto and decide for yourself. Look at this short video that gives an overview of what the Yorkshire Party believes in and make your choice. On May 23, don’t fall into the binary trap – vote for progress and vote for the Yorkshire Party.