There have only been two times in my life that a protest vote has made me feel anything other than fully capable of unhinged violence and they both came from a friend.
Twice he’s voted in his adult life, and despite having a clear allegiance to one of the major political parties, they’ve both gone in favour of the Yorkshire Party.
Stupid? Yes. Wildly ambitious? Yes. The most not-worth-it gamble ever placed? 100 per cent. But this is pride we’re talking about. Yorkshire pride, to be exact. A feverish, turbulent sense of regional self that you’ll be hard pressed to find anywhere else in the country, no matter how much scousers and Geordies might try and make out.
No-one is, or ever has been as proud as a Yorkshireman or woman. Ever. If you put together Churchill crushing Nazi Germany, Abraham Lincoln abolishing the slave trade and Picasso revolutionising the way we see the human form into a collective meld of self-worth, it wouldn’t be close to the feeling a Bradfordian gets when they wake up on a morning and look at themselves in a mirror.
I’ve never voted for the Yorkshire Party but I reckon I’m around four more southern students telling me about their cavorts in Southeast Asia away from running the fucking thing. Wishing a hearty farewell to my current career and saying ey up to God’s own independent county. Or better yet: country.
The Yorkshire Party, formerly Yorkshire First, is not explicitly for devolution but rather the pursuit of ending decades of negligent treatment elemental to being a London dependency. Which is reet.
Although a more sensible option, I do find it a shame that the party should limit its potential like this, given the last year of pioneering political twists.
Who’s to say a Yorkshire Independence Movement wouldn’t defy expectation and then some? The electorate clearly loves shaking things up and on the coattails of Brexit and Trump, there’s really nowhere else to go than to make Leeds a capital city and Sean Bean the first president of the Yorkshire Republic.
What makes Yorkshire so special though? Well, besides giving the world John Smiths, Marks & Spencer and Kevin Keegan, it also gave it many firsts: the motion picture (shot in Roundhay), the football club (Sheffield FC) and steam locomotive (built in 1790).
York was also the birthplace of Guy Fawkes, proving this acute taste for banter and autonomy is nothing new.
Naturally, you’re proud of where you come from. It’s what you first knew, and in some ways, what you’ll only know. I remember Morrissey once saying that, notwithstanding their final stomping grounds, a northerner is a northerner forever. In his case, LA.
It’s true. Being northern isn’t so much a geographical standing as it is psychological. It’s something you instinctively take everywhere. But Morrissey emphasised the north. He’s a Lancastrian and made a point of being northern, whereas people from Bradford, Sheffield or Leeds would likely make a point of being from Yorkshire.
And we’ve had good reason to do so of late. The Tour de France had its Grand Departe in Yorkshire, an event so well-received that 2015 produced its own replica, while Yorkshire natives Jessica Ennis, Alistair Brownlee and Nicola Adams put in such a good shift at London 2012, that if they’d been representing Yorkshire alone, the county would’ve finished 11th in the rankings.
In 2014, millions tuned into Educating Yorkshire, a show displaying all that is enviable about the county’s charm and vigour, what it achieves and inspires in cynical high schoolers at times of dire underemployment and recession.
Leeds and York rank among the top 20 universities in the UK, and Leeds and Sheffield come up trumps for ‘student experience’.
Quashing the alleged philistinism of Yorkshire folk, Wakefield boasts the acclaimed Hepworth Gallery, while Hull was chosen as 2017’s City of Culture.
Two of the top 10 most expensive living artists in Britain – David Hockney and Damien Hirst – grew up in Bradford and Leeds respectively.
So of course we’ve got regional pride. There are no Lancashire puddings on a Sunday roast, nor is there a Lincolnshire equivalent of the Arctic Monkeys. Or Mel B.
But there is a fine line between pride and snobbery, which I think is where the Yorkshire independence argument falls short. Just the other day I got into a row with someone I know after telling her my soul was ‘fundamentally purer’ than her cold, Essex one.
It is a bit rich to slate London centralisation and ignorance while also wanting to secede from the rest of England, but fuck it. Our economy is twice the size of Wales’s. And if Cornwall can be granted it, we sure as shite can.
Our population amounts to 5.3 million (higher than fucking Scotland), easily shadowing Cornwall’s pathetic 530,000. Our landscapes are far more enriching and our culture unparalleled. The native tongue is also a lot funnier.
We’ve got the Dales, the light side of the Pennines, The Deep in Hull and Eureka in Halifax. We’ve got the best fish and chips in the world and the sexiest accent going.
Until the beautiful day comes that Yorkshire escapes the confines of all its inferior county contemporaries, I’ll eyt all, sup all and pay nowt.
I’ll si thi in 2020.