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Why I want Yorkshire to have the powers to shape its own destiny – Andrew Cooper, Yorkshire and the Humber Green Party

May 11, 2014

Why I want Yorkshire to have the powers to shape its own destiny.
by Andrew Cooper, Yorkshire and the Humber Green Party

The continuing debate about independence for Scotland gives us all pause for thought. As a Green, the importance of self-determination for people is a given. For any meaningful democracy, it’s such an important starting point, as is proportional representation.

Yorkshire is big enough to look after itself and bigger than some EU states! We have a large enough population 5.3m (9.5%), and a GDP roughly in line at 8% of the UK. But there’s no point supporting devolution unless we get something better than a day in the news. In electoral terms this must include proportional representation for all elections, so the people’s voice is properly heard! Independence would be a major change and it has to be worthwhile.

Greens stand for a free public NHS, nationalised railways and utilities companies, and for progressive taxation with the very rich paying their way. I believe people in the region really do reject the attacks on people with disability, such as ATOS-type assessments, such as removing DLA mobility, or abolishing the ILF; attacks on the elderly via the attack on public sector pensions, or by refusing to address fuel poverty; the unemployed by failing to create the jobs we need.

We are a rich enough region for taxation to become fairer. Banks currently create hundreds of billions of pounds out of nothing, but most actual wealth is created by employers using workers and resources and selling the results. Profits must be more fairly shared – either through the growth of cooperatives, once highly favoured in the region, or by more progressive taxation, so millionaires give back to society rather than hiding their wealth from tax.

These issues are vital for people in the region to address or it will continue to be that Europe protects us more from Westminster than any likely government in Leeds would.

However, the difference a Green Yorkshire could make is significant: we could safeguard our energy future by going 100% renewable and creating the jobs needed to do it, like we’re starting to do in Huddersfield. We could end fuel poverty in the same way. We could explore just how good the railways as a whole could become – rather than a scheme just to get people to London faster. We’re great at food production and can already feed ourselves but we can move to become increasingly self sufficient, creating shorter food supply chains, favouring local supply, where food producers get a fair share of the profits and are not ripped off by the supermarkets. We need to work with farmers in partnership on ways to grow food more sustainably. We can ensure workers are at least paid a Living Wage which keeps pace with inflation. We could ban fracking and keep Yorkshire nuclear free. We could create a fairer society which will be happier and healthier.

The same issue that would face Yorkshire is now facing Scotland, and that is ‘Sovereignty, yes, but what is the vision’? Without a vision for a better Yorkshire we are simply changing administrative arrangements.

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