Monday, 30 November 2009

Independence for Yorkshire (excepts from the future archive)

The recent announcement of "London-style powers" for Yorkshire (presumably without a "Boris-like" leader) comes close to the announcement of plans for a referendum on Scottish independence.

And lo, within the future archive of the Heckmondwyke Clarion I found this:

Yorkshire will publish its white paper on the constitutional future for the Broad Acres, paving the way for an independence referendum.

Leader of the Yorkshire Nationalist Party (YNP) Arnold Postlesthwaite said Yorkshire must be independent to meet its full economic potential. However, the YNP does not have enough support from opposition parties to stage a referendum in 2010 but will proceed regardless.

The white paper, to be launched on Yorkshire Day will set out independence as its favoured option. Three other possible scenarios for Yorkshire's future are contained in the white paper: no change in the present set-up; more powers, as recommended by the Hussein Commission review of devolution; and a major transfer of responsibilities from Westminster

Speaking at its launch in York, Mr Postlesthwaite said: "It's time for the people to have their say on Yorkshire's future. The debate in Yorkshire politics is no longer between change or no change - it's about the kind of change we seek and the right of the people to choose their future in a free and fair referendum."

The content of the referendum ballot paper will not be revealed until the Referendum Bill is published early next year. Mr Postlesthwaite has expressed a preference for a single question on independence, but said he was willing to consider including another option on devolving more powers to the County.

Yorkshire’s Labour leader Steve Pitman insisted his party did not fear a referendum, but called for the idea to be dropped and to focus on more immediate concerns, such as the imminent wiping out of Labour in Yorkshire.

"We should not be distracting ourselves with a referendum, with a question which we don't even know what it is, with options we don't even know what they are," he said. "It could cost anything up to £12m - that's public resources which could be put to far better use protecting Labour’s vested interests."

Deputy leader of the Yorkshire Conservatives, Sir Myner Broadacres-Cash, added: "The worst possible time to be having a referendum is when people are concentrating on the far more important task which is how we deal with Labour's recession and get rid of socialists and greens. That is what we should be focusing on now not wasting our time on constitutional navel-gazing."

Support for the referendum seems increasingly unlikely, after Yorkshire Liberal Democrat leader Dr Nick Spottiswood recently made a rare decision.

"I think we should concentrate on the issues we are responsible for - of course make the arguments for strengthening Yorkshire and making it more accountable to our people," said Dr Spottiswood. "That's where we should be not on this obsession with independence that Mr Postlesthwaite and the rest of his party have."

The debate continues....


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