At 11:30 am on 27th October 2010, the House of Commons began a round of oral questions to the then Prime Minister, David Cameron. After the customary first bout of questions coming from the Leader of the Opposition, the questions were thrown open to the floor. The second of those questions was asked by the MP for Sheffield, Brightside and Hillsborough, the Rt Hon David Blunkett. His question, however tongue-in-cheek at the time, raised a very serious matter, the matter of devolution to Yorkshire and how Yorkshire is losing out by not having it.
It is that question that inspired the creation of the Yorkshire Devolution Movement and, in turn, reignited the drive for devolution to Yorkshire. The subsequent creation of the Yorkshire Party, founded by three members of YDM’s Executive Committee, which has now enjoyed several victories in Local Elections on a Yorkshire devolution manifesto, is, by itself, testament to that. Then also consider the recent proposal by nineteen of Yorkshire’s Leaders for a “One-Yorkshire” devolution deal.
Prior to the Rt Hon gentleman’s question, the matter of regional devolution in England had been dead since the ill-fated efforts by John Prescott in 2004. When YDM first started campaigning, Ministers, Council Leaders, MPs, Councillors and others told us that there was no appetite for further devolution in the UK; compare that to the current situation where those same people are arguing about the geography and model of devolution that should be implemented and where several devolved administrations have already been established in England?
No, we do not presume anything so bold as to take all the credit for this change in attitude to devolution, not even regarding devolution in Yorkshire! but we have certainly played a part, often punching above our weight, and we take this opportunity, ten years after what we dub, “The Sheffield, Brightside and Hillsborough Question” to thank the now, Lord Blunkett, for inspiring us to do so.