Yorkshire Needs a Parliament
2 May, 2016
I think it is now a generally accepted fact that Yorkshire has roughly the same population as Scotland and twice the GDP of Wales and yet the powers of neither. In the three years or so since the YDM was founded the devolution debate has evolved and now the government is convinced that allowing some spending decisions to be made locally makes better sense than having all these processes tightly controlled by Whitehall. We have been told about plans to devolve certain powers to city regions and we hear catchphrases such as the “northern powerhouse” used to promote efforts to rebalance the economy between the north and the south east of England.
You could be forgiven for thinking that the devolution debate has been won and that Yorkshire has got some kind of great deal out of the whole process but you would be completely wrong. In our opinion the devolution debate has taken a wrong turn and devolving powers to city regions is a serious mistake as far as Yorkshire is concerned. This is because city regions are ill defined areas, run by people with ill defined responsibilities and accountabilities and the powers that they have been given under recent and proposed devolution deals are limited and in some cases appear to carry significant exposure to risk should financial settlements prove inadequate to service the new responsibilities. I could expand upon these arguments but I do not propose to do this in this blog as my purpose here is to illustrate why Yorkshire needs a parliament not what is wrong with the current proposals.
So far the effects of the “northern powerhouse” initiative have been limited. The lion’s share of public spending is still going to London. This trend looks likely to accelerate not go into reverse anytime soon. We hear encouraging words from politicians in terms of infrastructure spending for the future but these appear to be related to plans about plans; provisions for the future when action was needed yesterday. For every good piece of economic news there appears to be a bad one so, despite the odd shaft of light, economic progress looks fragile, if it exists at all. So much more needs to be done both politically and economically to secure the future well-being of the region. Local and national politicians appear to be impotent when it comes to solving the region’s problems. The local political environment appears to be stale and well past its sell by date.
So what would a parliament give Yorkshire? A Yorkshire parliament would give the whole of Yorkshire a voice; it would allow us to take advantage of the Yorkshire brand and develop it further; it would reinforce our identity; it could provide us with inspiration; cohesion; political engagement; political awareness; scale; synergies; efficiencies; a sense of belonging; tradition; inclusion; recognition; respect; momentum towards the ability to achieve; and status. A Yorkshire parliament would represent all the people of Yorkshire not just those living in the conurbations. Weight would be given to developing all aspects of the economy not just those concentrated in urban areas. A Yorkshire parliament would give us the opportunity to rationalise local and regional government in a logical fashion thus enhancing accountability and promoting efficiencies.
Most importantly, though, Yorkshire would have a voice to counterbalance those of London and Westminster. In short, Yorkshire cannot afford to be without a parliament which is why the YDM (and our supporters) is campaigning for a parliament with similar powers to the Scottish Parliament to represent the whole of Yorkshire.Back