AFTER watching the first leaders’ debate on television, I came to the conclusion that British politics is looking more like a banana republic than ever.
What a hotchpotch and shambles they were. It was like a gathering of librarians with the occasional car salesman thrown in. Not one person had the gravitas of a great leader.
One thing was made very clear– Yorkshire didn’t matter to any of them. Not that it matters to anyone in politics. Most of the parties parachute their Southern candidates into safe Yorkshire seats knowing that the party faithful would return a donkey if it wore the right political colours.
The metropolitan political elite look down their pompous noses at us Northerners from the shires with utter contempt. We are expected to work hard, provide economic growth, cannon fodder for their wars and characters for their soap operas. Never are we taken seriously. If they could remove our right to vote, they would. Brexit told them that we are not politically wise enough to be able to put a cross in the right place.
That is possibly why Southern politicians will never give Yorkshire the devolution it so badly needs and deserves. We in the North cannot be trusted with following our London masters. If they gave us a regional assembly, we might actually do something very wonderful and put them to shame.
It is, of course, complete discrimination and virtual racism that we are not allowed to have a decision-making body in Yorkshire.
Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and London all have assemblies. We in Yorkshire are not allowed this democratic right even though we have more people and a bigger economy than Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Yet, Yorkshire is denied the ability to make decisions for itself. In 1974 our boundaries were changed and the historic Ridings abolished – not our choice. Governments appear to use a divide and rule policy when it comes to Yorkshire. This was clearly visible in the Northern Powerhouse debate. Northern power has to be based on the county and not cities within it.
Unlike the troublesome Scots, we in Yorkshire have the failing of being too polite. It is in our nature to be nice and friendly. We don’t shout enough or complain to get what we want.
Highly-centralised government in England doesn’t work in Yorkshire’s favour. Most public spending gravitates towards London and the South East, leaving Yorkshire as the poor relation.
How come a school in the City of London received £8,587 per pupil in 2015/2016, whilst a school in York received £4,202 per pupil over the same period? That is totally unfair. Are London children more valued than those in York?
Yorkshire has one of the lowest proportion of pupils achieving five or more GCSEs at A*-C level in the UK, and the fewest good or outstanding schools at early years level, despite recent improvements.
Yorkshire doesn’t appear to have a regional transport, energy or industrial and economic strategy. It is as big as a small country but there appears to be no regional strategy at all. We have had fracking thrust upon us, even though local people don’t want it. Our coal mines were closed even though there are still millions of tonnes of black gold under our feet and our railways are severely neglected. To drive from one side of the county to the other is a nightmare as anyone stuck on the A64 can testify.
This is why we desperately need an assembly to speak for Yorkshire and plan our future. All we seem to get is a glorified bike ride once a year and even that is losing its appeal.
With a Tory landslide still possible, now would be a good time for the people of Yorkshire to protest strongly about how we are treated by all political parties. This year, I intend to vote for the Yorkshire Party.
It was a chance conversation with Tess Seddon, one of their candidates, that tipped the balance. A former lifelong Labour supporter, Tess is standing in North Leeds. She is a great believer in how great Yorkshire could be with devolved powers. There would be greater funding for our schools and with proportional representation would come a reimagining of democracy with an end to tribal politics.
Does it sound too good to be true? It is well worth my protest vote and could tell the professional politicians of Westminster that they avoid the voters of Yorkshire at their peril.
GP Taylor is a writer and broadcaster and can be followed @GPTaylorauthor.