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Why Yorkshire should watch closely as Scotland decides – YDM blogger’s piece in the Yorkshire Post

February 26, 2014

George McManus, a sometime contributor to this blog, had an opinion piece in yesterday’s Yorkshire Post. Well done, George!:

George McManus: Why Yorkshire should watch closely as Scotland decides

People have been asking this question: “Why should an ageing rock ‘n’ roll star be even interested in the Scottish independence referendum?” Well, having spent the last 40 years trying to understand the subliminal messages of the brilliant Ziggy Stardust album, I wouldn’t dream of trying to second guess the great man.

I can only conclude that we should all be interested, none more so than the people of Yorkshire.

We may not have the right to vote in the referendum taking place in September, but we do have an interest in the outcome and, as a consequence, we should be doing all we can to influence the result.

Not only are our cultural and economic futures likely to be affected, but the political repercussions could be dramatic.

On economics, the Yorkshire economy is approximately the same size as that of Scotland.

For centuries, and long before the 1707 Act of Union which brought the UK into being, trade, economic and cultural links were commonplace between the likes of Hull and Aberdeen, York and Edinburgh.

Historically, as part of the ancient Kingdom of Northumbria, Yorkshire’s cultural and religious ties were stronger with Scotland than with the South of England.

It could also be argued that the real dividing line politically in the UK is not the line which forms the Scotland and England border but that which defines the North-South divide.

It’s no coincidence that the decision-makers in Westminster only woke up to the problems of flooding when the South was affected.  Why, when 1,000 homes on the Humber were damaged by the storm surge in December, didn’t David Cameron say “money is no object”?  Indeed that only happened when the playing fields of Eton were submerged.

Yorkshire also has a different political tradition to the South.   Labour MPs form the bulk of those who represent this region at Westminster  The same applies to the Scotland delegation.  But while Yorkshire regularly votes Labour, without the presence of Scottish Labour MPs then we would be likely to see permanent Tory governments being imposed on Labour Yorkshire with all the tensions that could bring.

So the outcome of the referendum will impact on Yorkshire, whether we like it or not. And the impact on national issues could be just as dramatic. Take the area of defence. Without a unified Nato-based approach to national security, Westminster will need to look for alternative arrangements.

Where do you put the nuclear submarines and the early warning bases? And how do you pay for them if the funding stream from North Sea oil and gas is severed? It’s estimated that “Scottish” oil and gas will generate up to £500bn in the coming years.  How do we fill that gap?

Take the monarchy. It was the Scottish King James who was invited to take the English throne in 1603 following the death of Elizabeth I. It could well be argued that our current monarch, with this antecedence, and coincidentally a Scottish mother, is more rightfully the Queen of Scots than the Queen of the English and the Welsh.

What if she decided to up sticks and relocate, full time, to Balmoral and Holyrood? Has anybody asked her how she feels?  Has the Westminster government considered this?

Indeed, does the Westminster government have any contingencies in place in case there is a Yes vote?

We need to ask and we should be demanding answers now.

For my part, I believe voters in Scotland will vote with their hearts rather than their heads and recognise that we are better together.

I think they will listen to David Bowie rather than Alex Salmond or David Cameron, and vote no, recognising that devolution in a United Kingdom is the best solution all round.

When that time comes, I 
believe the people of Yorkshire will see the advantages of the Scottish arrangement and demand a Parliament for Yorkshire within the United Kingdom.

In the meantime, we should be having our say, demanding answers and doing all we can to influence the outcome.

George McManus is a member of Beverley & Holderness Labour Party. He writes as a Scottish exile and is a member of Labour’s International Policy Commission.


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One Comment
  1. BankieJohn permalink

    Yes sure, we in Scotland will listen to an ex-junky – who happens to have made great music – and has never lived in Scotland rather than our politicians who bravely stand up to Westminster and say ‘enough is enough.’ Where were his English manners? Did he say ‘please’? Naw. He dished an order to us. Like Osborne and Cameron, talking down to us from their high seat in the Empire. Yorkshire, if you have anything to learn from us Scots and you want to share a brighter future with us, then grow a pair, and take your leave from London’s greedy black hole. Form your own wee country and govern yourselves independently and with the decent values of Yorkshire folk. Don’t ask us to remain conned by the UK when it is you who should wake up and make something new and better as we wish to do.
    Good luck!

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