Yorkshire Declaration

This Declaration makes the case for bringing real Democratic power to Yorkshire.

Authors: Colin Speakman and Simon Duffy

The Yorkshire Declaration was signed by 100 citizens of Yorkshire and read out loud at the Eye of York, at 12.01pm on the 1st April 2024 to mark the 50th anniversary of the implementation of the Act of Parliament that abolished the thousand year-old East, North and West Ridings of Yorkshire. 

The Declaration makes the case for bringing real Democratic power to Yorkshire and ending the extreme centralisation of power in London.

The Declaration was created by Colin Speakman (a poet) and Simon Duffy (a philosopher). It draws attention to the extreme inequalities of power and money that undermines the ability of Yorkshire to shape its own future and create a fair and sustainable future for everyone in the United Kingdom.

You can download the Yorkshire Declaration using the link below.

Thanks to Karen Parry at Inclusion North for producing an accessible easy read version, you can also download this using the link below.

If you are interested in devolution for Yorkshire then please sign up to Devolution Yorkshire to stay in touch here.

We, citizens of the Ancient Kingdom and cultural province of Yorkshire, with its three historic Ridings and its former capital city of York, nowadays part of England within the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, make the following declaration:

Yorkshire has for too long been regarded and treated by London-centred monarchs, landed aristocrats and political leaders as little more than a colonial outpost, whose resources and people are there to be exploited for personal enrichment.

In the early twenty-first century, differences between the more prosperous parts of Southern England and those of the North in terms of community, wealth, personal well-being (enhanced health and life-expectancy) and career opportunities, have been allowed to become ever wider.

It has been rightly said that “England is highly centralised, with far greater regional economic inequalities compared with other Western European countries” and also that so-called “Levelling Up” can only be achieved by properly resourced English Devolution. Further studies show how Local Government has over the last decade been systematically starved of financial resources with 95% of UK tax revenues now being seized by central Government and 75% of expenditure controlled by Whitehall and Westminster.

We note that London, now by far the most prosperous Region of England has, since 2000, had its own directly elected Assembly of 25 members. The elected Mayor of London is directly answerable to this democratically elected body. Yet in contrast in Yorkshire, even the Government Office for Yorkshire & The Humber Region in Leeds, was closed by the Coalition Government in 2012 as a so-called austerity measure. Even what little we had was taken away.

Yorkshire is a Region of over 5.4 million people, almost identical in population size to Norway, Denmark and Scotland, and rich in natural and human resources. It should be one of the most prosperous Regions in both the UK and Europe. Yet astonishingly Yorkshire has a GDP per capita less than half that of London and significantly less than the UK and European average. This is the direct result of decades of over-centralised Government neglect, asset-stripping and mismanagement.

Despite this, central Government investment, including the partially aborted HS2, continues to be directed to the South East. Government funding for transport per head is now three times higher in Greater London than in Yorkshire. Leeds remains the largest conurbation in western Europe without a modern Rapid Transit system and even the main Trans Pennine railway linking Yorkshire with other Regions of the North has yet to be electrified.

We believe that only through a strong and effective system of Regional Governance, as established in other more economically successful European countries, can Yorkshire fulfil its true potential. The French, Germans, Austrians and Swiss with their Régions Métropoles, Länder and Cantons, all trust their regions to lead the way, enabling people to come together and take control of their own destinies.

We ask every Yorkshire-born man and woman, of every background and faith, as well as those who have come to Yorkshire from elsewhere to settle, live and work, to support our campaign to ensure that Devolution for Yorkshire is a key commitment within the manifestos of all politicians in Yorkshire seeking our vote for the coming General Election. London already has its own Assembly. Devolution must ensure that Yorkshire likewise has a democratically elected Assembly or Parliament of its own, but crucially via proportional representation. This must include devolution of responsibility for tax-raising and budgetary control to this new level of regional governance, as well as to the elected Metro Mayors and to our local authorities.

Yorkshire is a proud and beautiful part of Northern England, with its own distinctive history, magnificent landscape, rich culture, ancient Anglo-Viking dialect of English and a gifted, creative workforce. The biggest single barrier to its future is that it is treated by arrogant and complacent Whitehall and Westminster as an outpost of a now long defunct Empire.

It is time for change. It is time for real Devolution in England. It is time to recognise the United Kingdom as a dynamic partnership of Nations and Regions, including an England of nine equally proud English Regions, one of which is Yorkshire.

The publisher is Citizen Network Research. Yorkshire Declaration © Citizen Network Reserach 2024.


Paper | 02.04.24

Constitutional Reform, local government, politics, social justice, England, Paper

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