I’ve pondered whether to name and shame the individual this blog post relates to but, honestly, I’m not out to start some sort of battle. I just want to highlight something that struck me at the local count on Friday afternoon. There are a couple of hundred people who witnessed the event if anyone needs corroboration.
For the most part, the people I met on Thursday evening and Friday were generous and friendly. I found common ground with everyone I chatted to from all hues and, as I always say, there’s no cost to being polite. I hold doors, I smile when I pass people because why shouldn’t I? Anyway, this isn’t about that.
Acceptance speeches in the local elections were meant to be short. Generally, that was adhered to with winning candidates giving thanks to those who had helped them and the count staff. Then one winner went, for want of more appropriate language, off on one. Alone on the stage with just the Returning Officer he took the opportunity to condemn the ‘dirty tricks’ campaign against him in vitriolic terms. Now, frankly, I don’t know what went on in his ward, nor do I particularly care. It wasn’t the time or place for it. His ire rose and he went on and on and on. It wasn’t short and it certainly wasn’t sweet. It was particularly infuriating given that the other candidate wasn’t there to defend themselves. Though, if they had been, I suspect the police officers hovering around the count would finally have had something to do.
Perhaps what irritated me most of all was the applause afterwards, even up in the viewing gallery where I was. It was tribalism at its worse and soured what was quite a pleasant afternoon a little. I also think I got into trouble for plainly showing that I was unimpressed. Never mind that – I’m a polite person but I can’t always hide my feelings, nor should I try to really.
The fact is this candidate won. If there was a dirty campaign against him (and he didn’t convince me, I have to say) then it didn’t matter. He’s been elected for a four-year term. The count was the first chance he had of putting rivalries aside but no. In damning his opponent in such angry language he implicitly criticised those who voted for him. That’s hardly going to foster a harmonious community atmosphere in the next four years, is it?
It’s rude to eavesdrop, but it’s not such a crime for a conversation to catch your ear when it’s conducted rather loudly. I was in a cafe on Saturday and a group of men in their 60s/70s were discussing politics at the next table. Some of the things they were saying really resonated, reaffirming my belief that lots of people in this part of the country have the same attitudes towards the North/South mess we’re embroiled in.
They were talking about Boris Johnson and how he thinks the country stops at Watford. Well, yes. As they went on to say, London may be the capital, but that doesn’t mean it’s the be-all and end-all. The rest of us have got something to offer. The next recipient of their vitriol was HS2 – they seem completely unconvinced that it’ll ever make it up to Leeds and will actually do what it’s meant to do (that is, benefit the North of England if you’ve forgotten – I know I had). The overall opinion of these men seemed to be that decisions were being made by people in London who ‘don’t understand’ the North.
If I’d been a little braver I would’ve started up a conversation, but that’s an odd thing to do randomly in one of your favourite cafes. However, it has convinced me that the members of Yorkshire First are definitely not talking to an empty room. We’re on the same page as a lot of people and we’re talking sense.
So, with that in mind, if anybody fancies getting a little more involved with us, the next Wakefield Branch Meeting will be held at The Holmfield Arms on Thursday 5th March at 7pm. All welcome, even if you don’t know how deeply you want to be involved in the campaign. We’ve got a chance to make a difference in two months and show the mainstream parties that their benevolent view of devolution and what’s best for us really won’t do.
So, barring problems with nominations or any other twists and turns in the saga that constitutes my life at the moment, it gives me great pleasure to tell you I’m intending to stand as a candidate in the local elections in May for Yorkshire First.
For those of you who haven’t heard of YF, they are a group of people from across the political spectrum who are united in their belief that Yorkshire folk deserve more control over our own destinies. A core belief is the principle of devolution to the lowest feasible level; that is, bringing decision-making closer to the people that those decisions affect.
It’s early days and there’s a long time to go before May. However, I’m really looking forward to working with Yorkshire First and getting our message out there. No doubt I’ll post much more regularly in the coming months and I’d highly recommend having a nose around the main website linked above. There are a number of things you can do to get involved if you like the look of what you see – sign the Yorkshire Pledge, donate to the party or give up some time to help us distribute leaflets. Wakefield is, of course, my patch, but if you want to pitch in anywhere in Yorkshire I’ll try and pass you on to someone a little more local to you or you can contact the party direct.
You’ll hear a lot more about Yorkshire First in the next few months – keep your eyes peeled.