I have a cartoon in my head that sums up Yorkshire’s devolution problems – forgive me, it is not subtle.
There is a ‘Y’ in the road. On the left is a phalanx of stumbling mules ridden by – at the front – Labour leaders wearing blinkers, loudly chanting ‘One Yorkshire, One Yorkshire’ while trailing behind, and mostly silent, are the Conservatives of North Yorkshire.
The donkeys are stumbling because they only have three legs, to represent the three quarters – 15 out of 20 councils – that say they want One Yorkshire devolution.
The riders are in rags because they are from deprived boroughs that have suffered severe government cuts, with more to come.
All are heading down a rocky, dry gulch where nothing grows.
The other side of the junction leads to bountiful lands where horses called ‘Manchester’ and ‘West Midlands’ are joyfully cropping great halms of green grass.
There are two fields marked ‘South Yorkshire’ and ‘Leeds City Region’, but they are empty. Where they join is another field bigger even than that of Manchester’s called One Yorkshire.
Meanwhile, our limping band of riders pass signs cut in the canyon walls that say ‘£900m devolved funds refused’, ‘Adult Education Budget paused’, ‘Long Term Unemployment Scheme paused’, ‘missed out on one seventh share of Transforming Cities £800m’, and finally ‘Industrial Strategy will be implemented by elected mayors’.
Incanting noisily as they go, our righteous band rides right over a cliff, on the walls of which the cartoonist has written ‘political oblivion’ and ‘poverty’.
I told you it wasn’t subtle.
But despite towering evidence, it seems One Yorkshire’s political leaders continue to be seduced by their own soundbite.
And the tragedy is they are dragging this great county down with them.