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A new democratic and economic settlement is needed for Yorkshire

Democratic Yorkshire is about the people of Yorkshire taking a more independent democratic stance against control by Westminster, while remaining part of the United Kingdom.

Sheffield city from Ringinglow Road (Greenhouse Lane)
Shane Rounce

Democratic Yorkshire is a new but growing community-led initiative. It is about us, the people of Yorkshire, taking a more independent democratic stance against control by Westminster, while remaining part of the United Kingdom.

Times are hard, and like the rest of the world, Yorkshire faces ecological disaster. On top of that, individuals, companies, and communities in the county are struggling in ways never seen before. Some blame this on the pandemic and war in Ukraine, but it is not all the pandemic’s or war’s fault. We know that Yorkshire’s fortunes have been on a downward spiral for decades because we have witnessed and experienced it first-hand.

The current governance arrangements in the United Kingdom are nothing short of a farce.

Central government exercises widespread control over devolved authorities and local government bodies. It controls the finance for many local activities and seeks to micro-manage them, resulting in even minor local decisions being made by Whitehall.

The basic needs and aspirations of ordinary citizens are being overlooked, while central government has become a revolving door, providing access to a self-serving duopoly of representatives of mega multinationals.

It is the over-centralised system of government that is outdated and rotten to its core and needs to change, not just the Prime Minster. Simply outing Boris will change nothing!

We have had enough of this 'devil take the hindmost' politics and economics.

New Constitutional Settlement

We are demanding a new constitution and regional settlement for Yorkshire, similar to regional arrangements in Germany, Switzerland, and elsewhere.

Germany subdivides its population of 83 million into 16 regional Länder. 16% of taxation is raised and allocated locally. Here in Yorkshire, it is 1%.

Within each German region, significant power is further devolved to cities, towns and villages around naturally occurring boundaries – and not administrative convenience. The organisation of these ranges from sets of elected councillors to executive mayors and assemblies.

In Switzerland, citizen participation in decisions is built in through their Constitution. Regional governments - or Canton – make all the major decisions, only referring matters to the Federal government where there is an overlap of interest.

The Canton will often put a contentious matter to referendum. Not a Brexit-style free-for-all but with independently provided information and knowledge.

‘Do you want a park-and-ride scheme into Geneva? Here are its fairly estimated advantages and here is what it will cost. Discuss calmly and make a choice.’

While few in number and in the early stages, we are in the process of establishing a citizens-led constitutional convention to consider alternative governance arrangements for Yorkshire and come up with a better solution for our citizens. This includes looking at a new economic settlement for the county.

New Economic Settlement

For a moment let us think about the kind of economic future we want for Yorkshire’s children and future generations.

We want an economy that values both the human spirit and the planet. An economy that is driven by the wellbeing and happiness of all of our citizens, instead of the greed of a bunch of elite tycoons. Tycoons most often found to be living outside of the United Kingdom, let alone Yorkshire, with no genuine interest in the place.

The emphasis on increasing income and consumption by so called free market economists may be good for the banking elite and large international corporations, but for the rest of us it far too often leads to a cycle of frustration, disappointment, and despair as people are deliberately encouraged to attempt to keep up with the Joneses or otherwise feel a failure.

Is there a different model? YES!

What are the alternatives to the free-market economics successive central governments appear hell-bent on pursuing?

We have invited guest opinion from across academia, business, and the social sciences to join us at our seminar tomorrow to help answer this important question.

Learn more

Join the seminar and make your contribution, starting at 6.30pm. Details at: https://tinyurl.com/yc469r4f

This seminar is being jointly organised with the Festival of Debate and Same Skies Think Tank.

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