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Was David Cameron right about Yorkshire?

September 16, 2015

Two significant developments in recent days, each of varying importance to the devolution debate. Firstly, David Cameron’s unguarded comments caught on microphone and secondly, the election to the leadership of the Labour party of Jeremy Corbyn.

As YDM was penning a blog piece in response to David Cameron’s (jokey?) assertion that the people of Yorkshire hate each other as much as they hate the world, columnist GP Taylor in today’s Yorkshire Post beat us to it. In his excellent piece he explains why the competing bids from local authorities – in regard to a devolution settlement – suggest why, to outsiders, relations within Yorkshire seem acrimonious. He draws the inevitable conclusion that a Yorkshire assembly is the best option: ‘Yorkshire is a distinct region with its own culture and customs. It should therefore be granted its own assembly and be self determining in matters of finance, education, policing and welfare.’ We, at YDM, would agree with that!

With regards to the election of a new Labour leader and its significance to the debate on devolution to Yorkshire, more later. It’s fair to say in the meantime, that Jeremy Corbyn has never unambiguously supported the idea of a Yorkshire assembly or parliament, rather he prefers to see some sort of constitutional convention for the North. What is encouraging though, is his appointment of Hemsworth MP Jon Trickett as Shadow Minister for Communities and Local Government, who will have responsibility for devolution. The Yorkshire Post reported him as saying, in July: ‘In my view it is time to establish a single voice for Yorkshire to speak powerfully for our wonderful county.’ He also dismissed the idea of a Mayor for Yorkshire instead ‘suggested the region should be aiming for a “full scale devolved administration”‘. Not much ambiguity in that statement and YDM wish him well in convincing the Shadow Cabinet, but more importantly, his party colleagues who lead councils across Yorkshire, that a Yorkshire parliament is the most obvious way forwards.

 

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