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Move civil servants North and more transport powers to the regions are the latest ideas on ‘devolution’ to be thrown into the hat

Two different articles relating broadly to devolution. Firstly we have Lord Haskins, Chair of the Humber LEP, who wants parts of the civil service to be moved to ‘the North’. Article is here.

Secondly, from the Yorkshire Post, IPPR North argues for giving transport powers to the regions.

Yes to both but on their own they don’t advance the case for strong regional devolution. YDM is encouraged by the engagement of various individuals and organisations in the debate but really these latest ideas have to be considered in a broader debate about what powers and functions are devolved from London. Until this happens these laudable ideas will be lost like chaff on the wind sadly.

The Guardian calls for a national constitutional convention

The Guardian recognises what many of us have thought for a long time in that whatever happens in Scotland there needs to be a rethink in the way England is governed. In their editorial on Thursday 21st August they call for a national constitutional convention. The comments (hundreds of them) which followed the online publication of this editorial can be found here and are worth a read.

The Guardian view on a parliament for England

Events in Scotland will force the English to rethink the way they are governed. It’s time for a national constitutional convention
Suggestions that the demand for an English parliament represent an English nationalist moment should
Suggestions that the demand for an English parliament represent an English nationalist moment should be handled with care. Photograph: Martin Rickett/PA

A parliament for England is not yet an idea whose time has come. But it may gradually be getting there. The BBC reported this week that a large new survey by Cardiff and Edinburgh universities shows 54% support in England for its own parliament, four times as many as those who disagreed. Ukip’s deputy leader was quick off the mark to welcome the finding yesterday, lending some support to those who argue that his party is in reality less a UK independence party than an English nationalist one. The English home rule issue is also causing stirrings in the Tory party, where the rightwinger John Redwood has recently called for an English parliament, while Boris Johnson has suggested fresh powers for English cities should have more priority than any further devolution to Scotland.

Suggestions that the demand for an English parliament is finally up and running or, even more, that such calls represent an English nationalist moment should be handled with care. There have been similar polling spikes on English self-government in the past but they have evaporated, though this one may not. And English feeling takes many different, and sometimes antagonistic, forms in the different regions and social classes of England, which have rarely come together as a political force in modern times. Moreover, it seems clear that these new developments are overwhelmingly a response to the current events in Scotland. More than anything else they seem to represent a wish not to be left out rather than anything more positively focused.

It should also be remembered that when English voters have been offered more devolution, which they often have in recent years, they have mostly rejected it. This happened in the north-east referendum in 2004, which was rejected by a four-to-one margin, and in the elected mayoral referendums of 2012, when nine out of 11 English cities turned the idea down. Attempts to whip up English resentment about Scottish and Welsh devolution, or even the West Lothian question, have not got far beyond the Tory thinktanks. Explicit English nationalism of any kind remains very much a fringe political phenomenon.

This time, though, may be different. The same survey by Cardiff and Edinburgh reveals a more resentful and perhaps more bloody minded feeling in England about Scottish nationalist demands. If Scotland votes yes next month, English opinion says Scots can sink or swim on their own; while if Scots vote no, there is little English appetite to continue the UK public spending settlement embodied in the Barnett formula. The UK political parties have promised a more magnanimous approach, whatever the outcome, but the issues will be out there and the rightwing London press may not hesitate to fan them.

One way or another, events in Scotland are forcing the government of England and Britain on to the future political agenda too. Whether the momentum is primarily generated by nationalist feelings or by constitutional rebalancing, or a combination of the two, is less important than the plain facts that things are moving and that decisions will be needed. Whatever the outcome in Scotland next month, the remaining nations therefore need to begin a focused conversation about the nature of the union and its democracy.

Yes or no on 18 September, British governance is going to change afterwards. England’s voice has to be defined within the new settlement, whether in an English parliament or in new rules on English matters at Westminster. And English devolution will have to be addressed too, whether through a devolved parliament, devolution to the regions, or to existing local authorities. A federal dimension in the Westminster parliament will also be on the agenda. A constitutional convention, similar to that which paved the way for Scottish devolution in the 1990s, seems a more promising forum than any other. But the thinking and talking all need to start now and to conclude within a finite time. If they don’t, the right answers could be left at the mercy of events.

The Yorkshire Question

The Yorkshire Question by George McManus

As the independence debate reaches a crescendo in Scotland, people in Yorkshire are beginning to understand that, whatever the outcome, the result will affect us all.

We may not have a say in the Scottish referendum but the ongoing debate has raised a number of questions in Yorkshire Cities, towns and villages.   None more so than in my favourite Beverley pub, the Dog and Duck.   Somebody recently asked me to explain why voters in Scotland pay neither prescription charges nor tuition fees?     It’s a question I’ve never been asked before and I am convinced has only arisen because of increased awareness as to the devolution settlement in Scotland.

Clearly whether Scotland votes for or against independence there will be political and economic prices to pay.

If Scotland goes it alone then how will the rest of the UK defend itself if all the nuclear submarines are on the Clyde? How will the exchequer deal with a cut of 10% in its national income and the loss of North Sea oil revenues? Where will Hull City find its next generation of players? And if people vote No on 18 September, just what powers will need to be devolved further under the devo-max arrangements?  Will Scottish MPs still be allowed to vote on purely English issues?

Much more importantly, in my mind, is that either way, the devolution genie has been well and truly let out of the bottle and this explains why questions on tuition fees and prescription charges are now being discussed in the Dog and Duck.

Billy Bragg put it well. ‘Most people in England have never thought about devolution. But it’s like the guy who, having never considered building a conservatory, realises his next door neighbour’s got one. He looks over the garden fence and says ‘Yes, I like the look of that.’’

So it is with Scotland and England.   People are looking over the garden fence, asking questions, and when they hear the answers they’re saying ‘I like the look of that’.   Yes there will be questions to ask about how Yorkshire could afford its own assembly and what powers it would have.   People might say that Scotland and the English regions are subsidised by London and the South East and in return we might say that London caused the financial crisis in 2008 so London can pay the debt.   They might say why are we spending ten times as much on transport per head of population in the South East than we do in Yorkshire?.

In the Dog and Duck I was asked how Scotland could afford to re-open old railway lines? We can’t even re-open the direct link between Hull and York, two of Yorkshire’s great cities, how come London is planning to spend £50billion on High Speed 2?

The answer to all these questions is that in Scotland under devolution, policy priorities and therefore spending priorities, are being set by politicians in Scotland. Those policies, represent the priorities of the people in Scotland.   Yorkshire’s policy priorities are determined in London and therefore reflect the priorities of an out of touch establishment which is based in London.

So when the referendum result comes in and the Scottish people vote, as I hope and believe they will to reject the phoney ‘independence’ of the SNP and decide to stay in the United Kingdom, let’s make sure that we keep the debate going and build on the momentum created.   It’s time we had our new conservatory.   It’s time for Yorkshire!

George McManus, lives at 7 Whins Lane, Long Riston, East Yorkshire HU11 5JS and is a member of the Labour Party’s Foreign Policy Commission   Tele: 07720 847810 geormcman@aol.com

Two more articles reflecting on what the Scottish referendum means for devolution in England.

Two more articles reflecting on what the Scottish referendum (now just a month away) means for devolution in England.

Firstly, a piece by former Liberal Democrat MEP, Diana Wallis: Time for Yorkshire to shape its future

And then below a piece by Adrian Wooldridge, the Management Editor for The Economist, in the Sunday Times.

Sunday Times article pt2

Launch of Yorkshire Pledge

Yorkshire Day saw the launch of the ‘Yorkshire Pledge’ in Leeds.

The pledge, an initiative by Yorkshire First – the party for Yorkshire – calls on the region to have the decision making powers to shape its own future.

Leader of Yorkshire First, Richard Carter, explained the background to the pledge.

“The case for devolution to Yorkshire has been well made.

“The plan is to get as many signatures as possible over the coming weeks and months in order to put pressure on politicians and Westminster-based political parties.

“Yorkshire is its cities, towns and countryside. Together. With our boundaries going back over a thousand years. It has a similar population to Scotland and an economy almost double that of Wales, and it’s about time Yorkshire had similar powers.

“It is time for change. It is time for Yorkshire.”
The Yorkshire Pledge:

We are proud of Yorkshire, its heritage, its environment and its people and want to build an even better future
Yorkshire is its cities, towns, countryside and people. Together.
The time has come for us to have more control over our affairs, to enable us to build a stronger region within the United Kingdom
I call for Yorkshire to have the decision making powers to shape its own future
More details can be found here

Former Labour Minister says he’s backing Yes and it would also help the regions of England

Former Labour Minister Peter Kilfoyle (from Liverpool) has said in an interview that he is backing the Yes vote in Scotland. He said a Yes vote would allow Scots to make decisions for themselves and would also help the regions of England.

Interview, including audio clip, can be found here

Last night’s BBC Two programme by Andrew Neil,  Scotland Votes: What’s At Stake For The UK? has had mixed reviews. It was only ever going to be contentious because that’s Andrew Neil’s style and it seems to be the only way we can present political argument in the UK these days. There was however a passing reference to devolution to the regions of England whatever the result of the Scottish referendum and Simon Jenkins (bless him) said regional politics would be energised and more of a sense of identity in ‘Yorkshire certainly’. The programme can be found on BBC iPlayer here

More councils plan to fly the flag for Yorkshire in 2014 but it’s still a long way short

Last year, the Yorkshire Devolution Movement wrote to all local authorities (over 70) which represent the historic county of Yorkshire urging them to fly the traditional white rose flag outside public buildings in their ownership on Yorkshire Day – August 1st. It emerged that just a handful of councils were flying the Yorkshire flag. This was met with a lot of criticism from the Yorkshire public.

However, the YDM wrote to all those councils again this year and Chair, Nigel Sollitt, is pleased with a better response:

“The response to our ‘fly the flag on Yorkshire Day campaign’ has been much better this year. 12 councils are flying the Yorkshire Flag on August 1st this year out of those which have responded. This might be due to the campaign we ran last year and which embarrassed a lot of local councils. Also it might reflect the outpouring of pride in Yorkshire during the days of the Tour de France when Yorkshire flags could be seen lining the route on both stages.

“It’s still not 100%, in fact it is a long way short, but it is a much better showing than in 2013!”

Councils which have responded and who are flying the Yorkshire flag on Yorkshire Day:

Saddleworth, Rotherham, East Riding of Yorkshire, Calderdale MBC, Doncaster, Scarborough BC, Harrogate BC, Bradford, Sheffield, Richmondshire DC and Yarm.  

Screen Yorkshire is a rare example of how Yorkshire has the autonomy to attract investment

Interesting piece in today’s Independent suggesting how the global exposure to Yorkshire through the Tour de France is encouraging filmmakers to do business here. Completely understandable of course, but what is interesting is that the company responsible for attracting films and filmmakers, Screen Yorkshire, is a rare example of how Yorkshire has the autonomy to attract investment; seemingly, in this case, successfully. An example again, if needed, of the potential that could be unleashed if we had responsibility for a whole range of other matters. It also begs the question how much of this work would find its way here if this were centralised under something like say ‘Screen UK’? Diddly squat probably!

 

Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

A $25m thriller starring Sam Worthington to be made in God’s Own Country

Adam Sherwin

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Hollywood is coming to Haworth. The spotlight shone on Yorkshire’s stunning scenery during the Tour de France is encouraging blockbuster movies to relocate to God’s Own Country.

Nidderdale, Skipton and Buttertubs Pass are shooting up the location wish list among filmmakers after the start of the bike race delivered global exposure to Yorkshire’s picturesque winding roads, hills and streets.

Jonathan Mostow, the Terminator 3 director, will shoot Hunter’s Prayer, a $25m assassination thriller starring action hero Sam Worthington, in Yorkshire next year, the production’s American producers Film Engine announced today.

Worthington, the Avatar star, plays a solitary assassin who is hunted across Europe after failing to kill a young girl, in the first US production to win investment backing from Screen Yorkshire, through its Yorkshire Content Fund.

Locations in Leeds, Wetherby and Bradford will also feature in Ridley Scott’s new Christmas family film, Get Santa, starring Jim Broadbent. On this occasion, the flexibility of Yorkshire’s locations will allow the county to substitute for Lapland.

Hugo Heppell, Head of Investments at Screen Yorkshire, said: “We often find that people outside the UK, and particularly in LA, have a limited knowledge of UK geography. They often equate the UK with London. There’s no question that an event like the Tour de France which takes our landscape and shows it around the world sends a clear message and helps put Yorkshire on the map.”

The Tour, watched by millions lining the streets and expected to deliver a £100m boost to the local economy, passed through areas of natural beauty including Ilkley, Wharfedale, Aysgarth – all have something to offer moviemakers.

“Yorkshire offers a range of locations from cityscapes to urban to coast and old-style landscapes. There are a couple more big productions coming which we can’t announce just yet,” Heppell said.

Productions currently shooting in the county include a BBC adaptation of Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, the supernatural novel set against the backdrop of the Napoleonic Wars, which features York Minster and Kirkstall Abbey in Leeds.

Locations in Sheffield were used for Testament of Youth, a BBC Films take on Vera Brittain’s First World War memoir, starring Alicia Vikander. Henry Winkler, the Happy Days actor, is shooting his CBBC series Hank Zipzer in Halifax.

Government tax breaks for the film industry have made Hollywood investments in Yorkshire a more attractive proposition. Hunter’s Prayer, which also shoots in Hungary, must guarantee a minimum of six weeks production in Yorkshire, under the investment which utilises the £15m Yorkshire Content Fund, which is open to producers working in film, television, computer games and digital content.

Heppell said: “Hunter’s Prayer reverses the traditional co-production model. The talent and the director are coming from the US but the film is being fully-financed out of the UK and the profits will stay in the UK. It shows the strength of the UK film industry right now.”

Councils reminded to fly the flag for Yorkshire on Yorkshire Day

Last year (you might recall) the Yorkshire Devolution Movement wrote to all local authorities in Yorkshire urging them to fly the traditional white rose flag outside public buildings in their ownership but only a handful did so. Well YDM has done so again.

Nigel Sollitt, Chair of YDM, takes up the story:

“Although we wrote to all local authorities in Yorkshire last year well ahead of Yorkshire day on August 1st, only a handful took the decision to fly the White Rose flag. This was met with a lot of criticism from the Yorkshire public. This year in particular, after the outpouring of pride in Yorkshire during the days of the Tour de France when Yorkshire flags could be seen lining the route on both stages, we would want a better showing than in 2013.

“We are sure councils don’t need reminding this year, but we are writing to them all just in case!”

As we approach Yorkshire Day here is the definitive guide to the Yorkshire flag

Yorkshire Day, which is fast approaching, is traditionally a day for public buildings, offices, factories and individuals to fly the white rose flag in numbers. In previous years, YDM has been involved in a campaign to get local councils to hoist the Yorkshire flag on August 1 and indeed this year will be no different (but more of that another time). Meanwhile it might be instructive to repost this blog which gives something of a definitive history of the flag, the orientation of the rose and even the correct Pantone colour that should be used. It’s taken from a blog called British County Flags but unfortunately there is no contact address to give a hat tip to.

 

Yorkshire Flag

YORKSHIRE FLAG

The flag of Yorkshire was registered in 2008. It bears a white rose

WHITE ROSE

which has long been associated with the county. The white rose, also known as the “rose alba” or “rose argent”, was originally the symbol of the House of York  and is believed to have originated with the first Duke of York, Edmund of Langley in the fourteenth century, who founded the House of York as a cadet branch of the then ruling House of Plantagenet. The rose carried religious connotations, its white colour symbolising innocence and purity. It was accordingly also held to evoke the Virgin Mary, who was referred to as the “Mystical Rose of Heaven”. An alternative view is that a white rose was originally a badge of the Mortimer family whose member Anne married Edmund’s younger son Richard. Their son, also Richard, third Duke of York and father of Edward IV, claimed the throne through his Mortimer descent and therefore naturally displayed their white rose in opposition to the Lancastrian Henry VI, who bore a red rose. The white rose emblem of the House of York is found as a detail

ED 4 FLOWER

in a book produced for Edward IV, the first Yorkist king. It has further been noted that the livery colours of the Plantagenets were red and white and thus the white and red rose emblems reflected the family split.

However it should be borne in mind that The ‘House of York’ was a line of aristocracy, which, whilst owning estates in the county, was based, not in York, but mainly in the south of England and Wales. During the civil war between the House of York and the House of Lancaster there were few ‘Yorkists’ in York, in fact, major Yorkshire land-owners were prominent supporters of the House of Lancaster! By the 18th century however there is an account of an event whose exact nature is a little shadowy but which has certainly inspired at least, a trenchant mythology that may have helped to develop the association of the white rose with the county. Sources report that at the Battle of Minden on 1 August 1759, Yorkshiremen of the 51st Regiment of Foot picked white roses from bushes near to the battlefields and wore them on their clothing. Some accounts describe this as an act of tribute to their fallen comrades after the battle, placing the flowers in their coats, although an alternative theory is that the flowers were plucked and worn during the advance as an act of bravado, placing them in the head-dress. Military historian C.E. Audax however, has written of this incident; in his work ‘Badge backings and special embellishments of the British Army’ published in the 1990s, he quotes one Major C.B.T. Thorp, who, in 1932 wrote “I have not seen any contemporaneous account of the battle which mentions the incident nor can I discover that prior to 1860 roses were worn by the Minden regiments on the anniversary of the battle.” He goes on to say “…nowhere can I find mention of roses until some years after the centenary of Minden the celebration of which was clouded by the aftermath of the Crimea and the Indian Mutiny.”

The Yorkshire Ridings Society itself on its website  writes “250 years ago, on the 1st August 1759, soldiers of the 51st Regiment of Foot, a Yorkshire Regiment, took part in the battle of Minden… Reports of the battle mention that the British Soldiers picked roses and wore them on their uniforms, possibly in memory of their fallen comrades. News was in black and white in those days so the colour of the roses is not known.” which even sheds doubt on whether the flowers in question were actually white! However there is certainly a “white rose” tradition arising from these events and on August 1st, Minden Day, a celebrated British military victory is commemorated by Yorkshire regiments with the wearing of white roses.

Whatever the precise circumstance were, events do indicate a developing association between the white rose of the House of York and the county of York, which reached its full development in the nineteenth century. The term ‘Wars of the Roses’ is believed to have been first used in the novel”Anne of Geierstein” by Walter Scott in 1829 who likely coined the term from the fictional scene in William Shakespeare’s play Henry VI Part 1, where the opposing sides pick their different-coloured roses at the Temple Church. Subsequently, the Victorian fashion for matters medieval, evident in the gothic architecture and numerous “follies”, seems also to have cultivated the link between York and the white rose symbol, with a crop of rose motifs appearing on the buildings of York!

YORK ROSES

In the twentieth century the association was extended to embrace the entire county; almost all Yorkshire civic arms registered in this period prominently feature a white rose e.g.

OLD TOWNS

By contrast Yorkshire’s older towns, such as Leeds, Hull, and York itself, have no rose in their arms;

NEW TOWNS

indicating the comparatively recent recognition of the white rose as the emblem of the county of Yorkshire.

The white rose also featured prominently in the arms of the local councils established in 1889 in the three historic divisions of Yorkshire termed “ridings”. This term, of Danish origin, referred to a “third” of the county and with separate judicial systems and lieutenancies the three Ridings operated effectively as separate counties. Accordingly a council was created to administer each Riding, which were each larger than many other counties. The arms of the West Riding Council,

WEST RIDING COAT ARMS awarded in 1927, distinctively feature a “rose en soleil”

ROSY SUN

a device adopted by the Yorkist king, Edward IV, upon his accession to the throne after the Battle of Towton. The emblem was fashioned by combining the rose of the House of York

WHITE ROSE 2

with the sun badge used by Richard III

RICH SUNS

and was the punning reference in Shakespeare’s famous lines from Richard III;

                                               “Now is the winter of our discontent

                                       Made glorious summer by this sun of York.”

The combined badge seemingly indicated that the House of York, the white rose, was now combined with the kingship, the royal badge of the sun. The above image of a white rose from Edward IV’s book, in fact, looks rather like the rose is depicted against the rays of a sunburst. The rose en soleil device is incidentally said to have been the cause of the result of the Battle of Barnet in 1471 when Edward IV confronted the Lancastrian De Vere, Earl of Oxford, whose men wore a silver star. Through a mist De Vere’s ally the Earl of Warwick mistook the star for Edward’s rose en soleil and charged his own side. The resulting confusion lost the Lancastrians the battle!

The rose en soleil badge was very specifically designed to represent Edward, Duke of York, as King; its appearance in these arms, in the twentieth century, is therefore a rather marked statement of the perceived association of the white rose with the locality. Not only was a basic white rose a symbol of Yorkshire but even the specifically royal, highly adorned one, was appropriated as a county emblem. Accepting this, the use of this device by the one riding does seem rather arbitrary, as any of the three might have an equal claim to use what was evidently regarded as a symbol of the whole county. To judge from military insignia however, it is arguable that the white rose was initially perceived as a more specifically West Riding emblem. It may be noted for example, that a white rose featured in the military colours of some local militia regiments during the Napoleonic period. A notebook in the National Army museum dated circa 1812, shows the regimental colours of some Yorkshire forces, of which only the Craven, Strafforth & Tickhill, Wakefield and West Halifax regiments included a white rose  –  several on the first named and one in the centre of the banner, for the other three. These locations are all located in the West Riding. Even so the white rose in this era seems not yet to carry any overt Yorkshire symbolism; none of the other regiments bore a white rose. Most other militia units used borough or town arms, the Southern Regiment of West Yorkshire Yeomanry, for example, raised in Doncaster in 1794, disbanded in 1821, used the arms of the city of York to signify ‘Yorkshire’ generally; none of them it seems deemed a white rose an appropriate symbol to depict on their standards. A century later however, the white rose had become a defiantly Yorkshire device. In chief, or at the top of the shield, on the West Riding arms, are three more white roses representing the three Ridings of the county of Yorkshire. This feature was common to all three Ridings’ council arms and is an unequivocal statement that a white rose represents Yorkshire generally.

NOR EST CO ARMS

It was therefore inevitable that a white rose would feature on the county flag of Yorkshire but who first placed it upon a blue piece of cloth, appears to have been lost in the mists of the not far distant past. All references to the origin of the flag of Yorkshire speak of it having appeared in the 1960s, the Registry itself describes the flag as dating from 1965, although exactly when, where and how this came about remains unclear. It is pure speculation but one conceivable inspiration for the blue flag bearing the white rose may be the colours and devices borne by the county cricket team.

The badge of Yorkshire County Cricket Club

CRICKET 2

was designed by Lord Hawke, in the early days of his captaincy in the nineteenth century. Inspired by the use of a red rose by Lancashire, his rose however was not a real flower but featured eleven petals to represent the eleven players of the team. Yorkshire’s club colours are dark blue, light blue and yellow for the 1st eleven and plain blue for the 2nd eleven. These are knitted in bands forming the v-neck of each player’s sweater. The limited overs team, Yorkshire Vikings, wears the colours in the players’ overall uniforms. Use of these colours goes back to the start of the 20th century at least, although why these colours are used is unaccounted for. It does seem likely that with blue being so prominently used to represent the county in a sporting context that the colour became naturally accepted as the county colour, generally. As can be seen above, the club badge appears against a dark blue background and indeed a dark blue flag bearing this stylised white rose is raised during matches as seen here in this photo from Scarborough in 2003.

CRICKET 1

This is very similar indeed to the Yorkshire county flag, as seen in previous decades,

OLD BLUE

which was also a dark shade of blue.

Curiously in 1989 the magazine “This England” issued a chart of the Traditional Counties of England

COUNTY CHART 1

along with a series of stickers depicting the arms associated with each county – basically those used by the former county councils in most cases. There was of course no Yorkshire county council so it was necessary to invent the “arms” issued for this county and the sticker for Yorkshire shows a white rose on a, red, background!

COUNTY CHART 2

The chart and stickers also appeared in an article in the publication “The Coat of Arms” no.153 (Spring 1991) by Ralph Brocklebank who remarks on the red field, which remains unexplained. One wonders if the red shield in this chart may have been inspired by the arms of the former West Riding Council – which was partly red and featured a large white rose? Brocklebank himself suggests that the West Riding council arms could be used to represent the whole county (as previously noted), rather than just a rose on a plain field, red or blue.

The blue flag was promoted by the Yorkshire Ridings Society (YRS) which was formed in 1974, in the wake of the legislation which abolished the Riding councils, to preserve the county’s true, whole identity.  Again, exactly when they first started to promote the blue flag is unclear; the society was operating in 1989 so if the blue flag was being promoted at this time the red shield on the “This England” chart is curiouser still! By the turn of the twenty first century the blue flag had become quite prominent and with the advent of the Flag Institute’s registry moves were made to see the design registered as the county flag. The YRS cited the case of a Ryedale farmer who in 2003 was summonsed, but not prosecuted, for flying the “Yorkshire flag” at a time before the liberalisation of flag flying regulations and that this was one of the motivations to secure registration of the design. Its ultimate registration was not completely without controversy however.

The late William Crampton, founder of the Flag Institute, had considered a possible Yorkshire flag in the 1990’s, which placed the rose en soleil, now firmly associated with county, at the centre of a Saint George’s cross.

INSERT IMAGE 17 RED CROSS 1

Michael Faul’s, ( now editor of the Flag Institute’s journal, Flagmster,) design had a Scandinavian cross in English colours, in recognition of the lengthy and significant Dano-Norwegian presence in York and the surrounding county, a neat encapsulation of the region’s  history. The rose en soleil emblem of Yorkshire was retained.

INSERT IMAGE 18 RED CROSS 2

This latter version became an established contender for the county flag and was taken up by the Yorkshire Dialect Society and the “Campaign for Yorkshire”, which sought to establish a Yorkshire parliament.

Another contending Yorkshire flag was designed by Mrs Olive Snaith of Goole, which was also a white rose on a blue background and essentially the same as the flag that was registered, although interestingly the hue of this flag is significantly lighter than the shade of blue used in earlier versions of the registered design

Yorks Snaith

In 2008 prior to the registration of the Yorkshire flag, Michael Faul had called for all three contending designs to be given an equal chance to be registered, his flag having already been manufactured and flown by expatriates abroad and used by local bodies. In Devon, Lincolnshire, Derbyshire, Gloucestershire and Orkney, the designs were the winners of local competitions and he hoped for a similar opportunity in Yorkshire. The YRS favoured blue flag however, was also endorsed by the Lord Mayor of Hull and the Admiral of the Humber and other local representatives and ultimately the high profile of the Yorkshire Riding Society proved unassailable and their preferred design was registered as the county flag.

CERTIFICATE

In 2013, Michael Faul’s flag was submitted to the competition to select a flag for the West Riding. With its colour scheme of red and white and its use of the rose en soleil device the design was similar to the arms of the former West Riding Council so there was a certain familiarity in the pattern. The flag was the winning entry in the competition and was duly registered as the flag of the West Riding by the Flag Institute on May 23rd 2013.

As has been remarked the Yorkshire flag in earlier days had been dark, like the colour of the flag used by the Yorkshire County Cricket Club. Here is a Yorkshire flag in a dark shade, displayed at Mickle Fell, the highest point in the county, which was purchased in April 2008, two months before the Yorkshire flag’s registration.

Mickle Fell

At the time of registration the exact shade of blue used in the Yorkshire flag was fixed as Pantone 300

PANTONE 300

This shade is the one used in the Scottish national flag, not quite as dark as the early versions of the flag but not varying from it by a great degree. In practice however, the adoption of this slightly lighter blue shade appears to have given rise to the production of Yorkshire flags of an extremely light blue colour as evidenced by this version flying outside the Department for Communities and Local Government in 2010.

DCLG YORKS

Such very light blue flags appear to originate in the Far East where perhaps the guide of pantone shades is not recognised or followed.

This recent innovation is not welcomed by many as it seems to have changed the whole character of the recognisable county flag. One wonders also if the above “Snaith flag” may have been an influence in this change of colour? The YRS  itself refers to this colour change on its website where it states simply “ In the past this has been a dark blue background but more recently a light blue background has become fairly common. “

The orientation of the rose is also worthy of consideration. The rose in the registered design sits on one sepal, forming the base of a letter “Y” for Yorkshire, with the other two sepals at either side of the top petal. However, in the East Riding the tradition holds that the rose is depicted with a sepal at the top, that is, the inverse of the registered rose. It is posited that this reflects the fact that, as noted previously, not every land owner in Yorkshire supported the Yorkist claim to the throne, especially in the East Riding! This was not reflected however in the orientation of the white roses used in the arms of the East Riding Council.

The date of the battle of Minden, August 1st and the subsequent reported wearing of white roses by the Yorkshire regiment, is now commemorated as Yorkshire Day, when white roses are worn and the Yorkshire flag is raised. This photo depicts celebrations in Micklegate, York in 2011.

YORKSHIRE DAY 2011

 With thanks to Ian Sumner, Flag Institute librarian, for additional research and images.

 

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