In spring 2023 Yorkshire, like other parts of the UK, is facing a toxic cocktail of economic, social, and ecological disaster affecting every aspect of our lives. Individuals, companies, and communities in the region are struggling to survive in ways never seen before. The government blames everyone and everything but themselves, especially the recent pandemic and Putin’s disastrous war with Ukraine. But what is happening is not all the pandemic’s or Putin’s fault.
Those of us who live, or run a business, in Yorkshire, know all too well that the region’s fortunes have been on a downward spiral for decades. How do we know this? Because we are experiencing it, day after day, month after month, and year after year.
Now is the time to do something about it.
Democratic Yorkshire, a recently established non-party-political movement of concerned individuals and organisations, realises that we cannot hope to address the poverty that exists in Yorkshire, the growing inequality, poor housing, deteriorating quality of public services, the education gap, or the ecological destruction taking place in our region, without first addressing the broken democracy that fails to respond to the urgent needs and aspirations of its citizens.
Yorkshire must take control of its own affairs within a federal UK
Democratic Yorkshire came to the conclusion some time ago that to turn the region’s fortunes around, Yorkshire must first take control of its own affairs within a federal UK, as opposed to them being managed from outside by a centralised, London-based UK government and parliament with little knowledge or understanding of the problems of what for them is a far-off part of the North, beyond the prosperous home counties.
The question remains, what can a small group like Democratic Yorkshire do about this situation?
As several independent experts have recently pointed out, even if we have a degree of English devolution in the next parliament, it is vitally important that we don’t simply import the highly centralised Westminster model for England as has been done in Wales and Scotland. In Yorkshire, as in other English regions, something radically different is needed.
Democratic Yorkshire has therefore sought advice from a number of experts on UK and European constitutional matters, to design a draft People’s Constitution for Yorkshire. The aim is to suggest a practical model for the future of the Yorkshire region that would enable our citizens to fully participate in all levels of decision making.
But the process is only recently underway.
Direction and purpose
The values we decide to adopt should give us direction and purpose, guide our conduct, judgment, and the choices we make, and consequently form an important part of the People’s Constitution.
The reason for their inclusion is to provide a clear reference point at every level of the decision-making process, to check we are on the right track to create a better future for the region’s young people and for future generations. These core values are:
1. Altruism – the selfless concern for the wellbeing of others.
2. Cooperation – the process of working together to the same mutually agreed end.
3. Ecological civilisation – the changes required in response to climate disruption and social injustices are so extensive as to require another form of human civilisation, one based on ecological principles.
4. Inclusivity – the provision of equal access to opportunities and resources for people who might otherwise be excluded or marginalised.
5. Respect – the due regard for the differences, feelings, lifestyle choices, wishes, and rights of others.
6. Rule of law – the principle that all people and institutions are subject to, and protected by, laws that are fairly applied and enforced.
7. Subsidiarity – the principle that a central authority should have a subsidiary function, making decisions or performing only those tasks which cannot be decided or performed at a more local level.
Climate disruption and social injustice
Climate disruption and social injustice are of national and international concern and are the biggest issues facing our youngsters and future generations.
Democratic Yorkshire argues that these issues require intensive local action to be resolved. It’s giving people in Yorkshire control over their own affairs that will see these problems be fully addressed, not an over-centralised UK government and parliament.
Democratic Yorkshire want to see a green economy with sustainable levels of consumption and production brought about – and supported by – local and regional government initiatives and actions. This will include better flood defences and reforestation, and also action to protect ourselves and the rest of the world from further damage.
Help design the People’s Constitution
These are just some of the important issues to think about as we look towards our youngsters’ future. So please join us in designing a People’s Constitution for Yorkshire, deserving of our love for them.
We hope to encourage as many citizens of Yorkshire as possible, from all different walks-of-life and all parts of Yorkshire, to join us to help design a Yorkshire’s Peoples Constitution.
With a general election now less than 18 months away, there is little time to get the concept of genuine, meaningful English devolution into election manifestos. It is a tall ask, but we must try, and will continue with the struggle until we succeed.
Anyone and everyone with an interest in the future of the region is invited to join us at our online seminar on Thursday 17 May between 6pm and 8pm when we will be examining the values, aims, and areas of responsibility to be included in the constitution.
For further details and to book log onto the Democratic Yorkshire website.
This will be followed by a further meeting on Tuesday 3 October in Huddersfield, when further consideration will be given to other parts of the draft constitution, which you are also invited to attend.