In 2014, Huddersfield University carried out a survey to find the strength of Yorkshire identity. Then, in 2016, YDM commissioned a leading UK survey specialist, Survation, to independently find the depth of knowledge people in Yorkshire had regarding devolution plans and the strength of support in Yorkshire for the various devolution options for the county.
This year, the University of Hull has carried out a further survey that provides direct comparisons to the findings of both of the earlier surveys. This has enabled the tracking of any changes over time regarding the matters involved. The survey was commissioned by The Yorkshire Society, there were 4,514 respondents compared to 1,003 for the 2016 survey and 288 for that of 2014 and the Survey Report was published on Yorkshire Day, 1st August 2021.
Changes over time between the 2014 survey and the 2021 survey:
Finding 2014 2021
Feel more Yorkshire than English 57.3% 57.4% +0.1%
Feel equally Yorkshire and English 27.1% 30.7% +3.6%
Feel more English than Yorkshire 8.0% 9.0% +1.0%
These results show that there has been very little change over the seven years to 2021 in respect of the matters involved and confirm the finding of the 2014 survey, despite its much smaller sample size, that the majority of Yorkshire folk (over 57%) feel more Yorkshire than English.
Changes over time between the 2016 survey and the 2021 survey:
Finding 2016 2021
Feel at least reasonably informed about devolution 10.9% 23.1% +12.2%
Want more decision-making powers for Yorkshire 34.0% 73.4%* +39.4%
Prefer a Yorkshire Parliament as devolution model 17.6% 40.2%* +22.6%
Prefer Metro Mayors as a devolution model 12.5% 7.5% -5.0%
Prefer no devolution model 38.4% ——-
Prefer empowering councils ——- 38.1% -0.3%
*56.3% of all respondents of the 2021 survey said that they would vote for a Yorkshire Parliament if a referendum was held.
These results show, over the five years involved, more than a doubling of the number of Yorkshire folk who feel at least reasonably informed about devolution plans. But despite that achievement, those who do feel at least reasonably informed still make up less than a quarter of people in Yorkshire. In order to overcome this, the decision-making process on devolution in Yorkshire needs to be much more open to the involvement of the Yorkshire people and much less an affair exclusive to the political elite behind closed doors.
The results also show more than a doubling in both the number of Yorkshire folk who want more decision-making powers for Yorkshire, and who prefer a Yorkshire Parliament as a devolution model. At the same time, support for devolution via Metro Mayors has almost halved over the same five years. It is also worth noting that as the 2021 survey reports that 40.2% prefer a Yorkshire Parliament whilst 56.3% would vote for a Yorkshire Parliament if there were a referendum on the issue, it indicates that many of those who want more devolution but did not express a preference for a Yorkshire Parliament, would vote for a Yorkshire Parliament to acquire the devolved power they desire.
An interesting question arises here: Are the increases in support of decision making-powers for Yorkshire and of a Yorkshire Parliament, together with the decrease in support for Metro Mayors, inextricably linked to the increase in the number of Yorkshire folk who feel at least reasonably informed about devolution plans? In other words, is it a case of the more people there are who feel informed, the more people there will be who choose a Yorkshire Parliament as a devolution model over Metro Mayors? We certainly believe a devolved Parliament for Yorkshire is the informed choice!
Since publishing the foregoing News & Blog article, former YDM Vice Chair, Stewart Arnold, of University of Hull, has published a podcast giving further details of the 2021 Survey. You can hear them here: