The Yorkshire Election Salvo

ey up – tha knows it meks sense

An irritatingly frequent election Salvo from Yorkshire First’s candidate in the Colne Valley (aka Paul Salveson). A loud voice for the region!

Issue No. 1 April 13th

Welcome to this very first Yorkshire Election Salvo, aiming to provide a mix of silly and more serious comment on the election. Mainstream politicians take their politics very seriously, which is why I’m proud to say I’m not a mainstream politician and heaven forbid I ever become one. So enjoy this positive YES from the Colne Valley political powerhouse……To start with here is my election manifesto which will go to all households in the constituency: Yorkshire First Colne Valley Manifesto

Why do this sort of thing?

Yorkshire First was formed on April 3rd 2014, so yes, we’re just over a year old. It was formed by former Labour and Liberal Democrat activists who wanted to build a new sort of political movement which was inclusive, honest and offered wide appeal beyond traditional ‘left’ and ‘right’. So far it’s been pretty successful. It won over 19,000 votes in the European elections last May and we’re fielding 14 candidates in the General Election. All that with no corporate backers and no millionaire friends. That said, if you are a millionaire and would like to back us we won’t say no (as long as there are no strings attached).

Don’t vote for me

Is the perhaps unusual title of our election leaflet which some of you will have seen. It is sub-titled “if you want the same old politics”. The leaflet outlines our policies and principles with a rather fetching picture of me wearing my REPTA (Railway Employees and Public Transport Association) sweatshirt. If you’d like to see it, click onto this link: PS Election Leaflet

Ding! We support the Bell Principles

Yorkshire First is proud to say that it supports ‘The Bell principles’ of ethical political behaviour. What? Never heard of ‘em? Well you’re probably not on your own and I always forget most of them, a bit like I used to forget the 10 Commandments when I was a kid at school. Martin Bell was the independent MP for Tatton before a certain chap called George Osborne won the seat back for the Tories. Oh well. So here they are: remember them ‘cos you might get tested by one of our thousands of doorstep canvassers.

“We will…..

  • abide wholeheartedly by the spirit and letter of the Seven Principles of Public Life set out by Lord Nolan in 1995: selflessness, integrity, objectivity, accountability, openness, honesty and leadership
  • be guided by considered evidence, our real world experience and expertise, our constituencies and our consciences
  • be free from the control of any political party, pressure group or whip
  • be non-discriminatory, ethical and committed to pluralism.
  • make decisions transparently and openly at every stage and level of the political process, enabling people to see how decisions are made and the evidence on which they are based
  • listen, consulting our communities constantly and innovatively
  • treat political opponents with courtesy and respect, challenging them when we believe they are wrong, and agreeing with them when we believe they are right
  • resist abuses of power and patronage and promote democracy at every level
  • work with other elected independents as a Group with a chosen spokesperson
  • claim expenses, salaries and compensation openly so the public can judge the value for money of our activities.

Not a bad list. Some of it might sound like ‘motherhood and apple pie’ but when so many people have become utterly disillusioned by politicians who have their noses in the trough, it makes a lot of sense. More than anything, it’s about decent, honest and accountable behaviour. It’s also about listening to people and not vilifying other politicians just because they aren’t wearing the same tie as you. Then again, I don’t often wear a tie. The biggest challenge in the principles is the third one – “be free from the control of any political party, pressure group or whip”. Yorkshire First is a political party but one with a very different approach to all the others. We don’t have a ’whip’ where all representatives are expected to parrot the same line. We expect a general commitment to democratic devolution to Yorkshire and insist on candidates agreeing both the letter and spirit of the Bell Principles. So you can’t be a racist and at the same time say you are ‘non-discriminatory’.

Bairns not bombs

One of the issues on which YF candidates have differing views (probably) is Trident renewal. I’m against it, for all sorts of reasons. The £110 billion cost over 10 years is not just poor value for money, it’s a waste of money. We are certainly living in an increasingly dangerous world but the dangers are subtle and complex and won’t be solved by four nuclear submarines armed with weapons of mass destruction. You don’t have to be pacifist (I’m not) to think this is crazy and immoral. We need a military equipped for the challenges of the modern world, not geared up for fighting the battles of the mid-20th century. Our armed forces do lots of great work in international development and it’s those peace-time jobs (flood and famine relief, re-building devastated areas) which have helped give us a positive reputation in many parts of the world. Trident is a very expensive vanity project which should be scrapped. The money saved should be used for a mix of ‘conventional’ defence and intelligence gathering but with most going on better childcare, regenerating parts of the UK which have been hard hit by austerity, and investing in schools and the NHS.

Letters to Libs, Tories and non-voters

I’ve been busy sending out letters to people who either don’t vote or may in the past have been supporters of other parties, e.g. Liberal Democrats and Conservatives. They aren’t rants or personalised attacks – I try to find areas of common ground without compromising my principles of social justice and real democracy at local, regional and national level. I’ve done three so far and you can look at them here:

http://www.paulsalveson.org.uk/2015/04/08/letter-to-liberal-democrats/

http://www.paulsalveson.org.uk/2015/04/03/letter-to-conservatives-in-colne-valley/

http://www.paulsalveson.org.uk/2015/03/19/letters-to-voters-and-non-voters/

Out and about in the Colne Valley

Saturday saw us dodging the hailstones in Honley. We were forced to take refuge in The Gallery Cafe which does very nice coffee and scrumptious vanilla slices. When we roused ourselves to go outside we got many positive responses including one very elderly lady who accused us of being half-hearted reformists. “I’ve believed in this stuff for years,” she confided. “It’s about time we had our own passports!” (NB this is not official Yorkshire First policy). We were aided and abetted by local Luddite Alan who had to leave for urgent machine-breaking activities in the Spen Valley. He tried to claim he was participating in the official unveiling of a plaque in The Shears Inn (Liversege) commemorating the 1812 Luddite Rising but I’d treat that with a pinch of dynamite.

The Luddites: right or wrong?

Over 200 years on, the Luddites still attract controversy. They were a group of working men driven to desperate measures by ‘structural adjustment’: their livelihoods were threatened by the introduction of the factory system and they were being un-ceremonially thrown on the scrapheap. A bit like the miners in 1984. Starve or resist were the two options and they chose the latter. Democracy was non-existent and they couldn’t appeal to ‘their MP’ for help because they had no voice. It was another 20 years before there was even a very modest extension of the franchise to sections of the middle-class. Most of the actions undertaken by the Luddites involved damage to equipment, not violence towards people. There was one isolated incident when a deeply unpopular Marsden mill-owner, William Horsfall, was assassinated on Blackmoorfoot Road. Several men were executed but the actual assassins were probably never caught. The killing gave the authorities the excuse they needed to install a reign of terror across the Colne Valley and West Riding, with more executions. The memory of the judicial murders of the Colne Valley Luddites remained in the folk-memory for decades after. It’s good that they are still recalled. Killing people is wrong, but destroying entire communities isn’t very ethical either.

Hustings time in The Valley

It’s great to see so many election ‘hustings’ events taking place across the Colne Valley constituency. Tonight (Monday) there’s an event in Holmfirth parish church starting at 7.15. Monday April 20th the action shifts to Wills o’Nats pub followed by Monday April 27th at Marsden Mechanics (both 7.30 but get there early as they tend to fill up). These hustings are a great idea and a sign that democracy is alive and well in Colne Valley. I’ve been involved in two so far and all the candidates were respectful and friendly towards each other. It isn’t about personalities, it’s about policies.

Nice things happen

It was hot last week. Remember? I was doing the rounds of Thornton Lodge with my leaflets and came across a chap (turns out to be Kashmiri) standing outside his house on Moorbottom Road. We exchanged ‘helloes’ and he said “You look a bit hot my friend – can I offer you a can of coke?” As I was probably close to dehydration, the offer was very welcome. It’s these small touches of kindness which make it all worthwhile. The other incident I’ll share with you was in nearby Crosland Moor. After going round with our ‘Don’t Vote for Me’ leaflets we were about to head off for our lunch when a woman came running up to me with one of our leaflets. She said “It’s my 44th birthday today and I’ve never voted in my life – but I’m going to vote for you!” I was tempted to give her a birthday kiss but there are certain boundaries candidates have to observe…(and you won’t get me kissing babies either)

Some more stuff on where I stand

This should be on the Huddersfield Examiner website now, with statements from other parties too:

Yorkshire First is a new party, formed only a year ago. Our main objective is to get a directly-elected assembly for Yorkshire, giving people the means to address growing inequality and help build a strong regional economy. Many people are disillusioned with mainstream politics. We’re different and here’s why:

  • Our candidates are not expected to toe a party ‘line’ – if elected they will act in accordance with their conscience and the wishes of the people they represent.
  • We will organise regular open meetings to hear people’s views – a quarterly ‘Colne Valley Parliament’
  • If elected I will take the average full-time salary for the Colne Valley and use the remainder to employ young people to gain experience of community campaigning

I want a Yorkshire assembly to be elected by proportional representation with strong powers (like Scotland), financed by taking power and resources away from Westminster and Whitehall. So there would be no extra cost and fewer MPs. Locally, I want Kirklees split into two (Huddersfield/Colne Valley and Dewsbury/Spen), with stronger parish councils. A Yorkshire assembly is only a means to an end: it must promote social justice and a growing economy with good quality jobs that pay at least the living wage. A Yorkshire Development Agency, accountable to the assembly, would stimulate the economy and work with business, universities and local government to promote innovation and research. We need a vibrant local economy with a flourishing network of small businesses, including co-operatives, trading with each other and offering good quality local goods and services. Colne Valley needs better public transport and I will continue my fight for a station serving Golcar and Milnsbridge, and for improved services on the Penistone Line, with buses integrated with the trains, not competing.

Who am I? Why am I here?

I often ask myself this question….born in Bolton (which is in Lancashire) in 1952 I spent much of my childhood train-spotting and being dragged on long walks up onto the moors by my mum. She worked in the local mill and my dad was a foreman in the leather tannery, a hard and mucky job. I got a decent education, going to a Catholic grammar school and getting undistinguished O Levels. I spent a year doing press photography in the Midlands then came home and did my A levels. Then went to university (Sociology and History) and couldn’t make my mind up what to do after. So got a job on the railways and ended up as guard, signalman and then technician. In between did some part-time adult education and did a PhD on Lancashire Dialect Literature. After a convoluted career which included setting up the Association of Community Rail Partnerships (ACoRP- still based in Huddersfield) I ended up being a senior manager with Northern Rail. My partner Jo died in 2009 and I decided to take a break from that demanding professional role. I was elected as a Labour councillor for Golcar Ward but stood down after 18 months (that’s a very long story). These days I do a mix of journalism (transport mainly), consultancy on railways and community involvement and I’m on the board of Transport Focus, ACoRP and a trustee of the Campaign for Better Transport. I’m a visiting professor at the University of Huddersfield in Transport and Logistics. The full unexpurgated version is on my website. When I get this election eawt o’t’road I intend to write a book on comparisons between Yorkshire and Lancashire dialect literature.

Can you help?

Yorkshire First is a small party with no money but plenty of guts and enthusiasm. We need help – from door-knockers, leafletters and donors. If you want to send a donation you can go on-line to www.yorkshirefirst.org.uk and click on the relevant button, or be an old-fashioned Luddite like me and write out a cheque to ‘Yorkshire First’, posting it (with a stamp!) to YF, Bank Top, 90a Radcliffe Road, Golcar, Huddersfield HD7 4EZ

  • You can email me at: colnevalley@yorkshirefirst.org.uk
  • Phone me on 07795 008691
  • Tweet: @YfColne (please follow us)
  • Facebook: Yorkshire First Colne Valley (please ‘like’ our page)

Yorkshire First has its own general website as above but there’s also the unofficial Salvo site at www.paulsalveson.org.uk which is probably where you are seeing this. It is full of other stuff as well so if you are interested in railways, Yorkshire and Lancashire dialect, the poetry of Walt Whitman, tripe, station cafes etc. it is tailor-made for you, whoever you are.

Promoted by Richard Carter of Yorkshire First on behalf of Paul Salveson – both of Railway House, Meltham, Holmfirth HD9 5NX. Home address: 90a Radcliffe Road, Golcar, Huddersfield HD7 4EZ