Colne Valley Correspondence….Letters to Voters and Non-Voters. This week:


This is a series of letters to people living in the Colne Valley Constituency, covering Holmfirth and the Holme Valley, Meltham, Golcar, Slaithwaite, Marsden, Linthwaite, Milnsbridge, Crosland Moor…and lots more places in between. I’m standing as the candidate for Yorkshire First and I want to speak to a wide range of people across this varied and vibrant constituency. I’ve written to people who have different voting intentions, ranging across the spectrum and this is the last one to a particular party.

April 26th 2015

Dear Green supporter

The letters I’ve written to other parties have all been broadly positive and friendly, but recognising that there are some significant political differences between us. But with you chaps it’s a bit different and I don’t believe in looking for differences for their own sake (though read on!). Basically, we share a lot of common ground, ranging from the need for greater local democracy to measures to combat climate change, scrap Trident, oppose NHS privatisation and generally promote ‘the common good’. If there is any significant difference between us, it’s about emphasis. And the main issue is whether or not we should have regional government. In a letter to The Examiner recently your candidate Chas (whom I count as a good mate by the way) challenged my view that elected regional assemblies were the right way to go. I responded in what I hope was a constructive and friendly way as follows:

“I can agree whole-heartedly with Chas Ball (Examiner April 24th) on the importance of directly-elected government, unlike the ‘combined authority’ for the so-called Leeds City Region which is being foisted on us, like it or not. Where I would disagree is whether we need a Yorkshire-wide body or several covering West and South Yorkshire, Humberside and North Yorkshire. As an ‘incomer’ who has lived in Yorkshire for over 22 years I recognise not only the very strong ‘Yorkshire’ identity (who says proudly ‘I’m from Leeds City Region’?) but also, as a transport planner, I can see that Yorkshire works as an economic and transport unit. Chas mentions the Penistone Line, from Huddersfield to Sheffield, as needing investment. As founder of the Penistone Line Partnership back in 1993 I’d fully agree. But one thing holding it back is the split responsibilities between South and West Yorkshire, which nearly led to its closure in the 1980s. The argument of Yorkshire First is simple. We want a parliament for Yorkshire elected by a fair voting system, with similar powers to those enjoyed by Scotland now, working positively with neighbouring regions. Let’s take power and resources out of Westminster and Whitehall and reduce the central bureaucracy, so the cost is nil”.

But it’s good to have debate and we are a long way from getting regional government in England. The point is we have to start somewhere, and I think that was the nub of Chas’s argument. I wouldn’t disagree that getting directly-elected authorities for West Yorkshire and other parts of the region could be a stepping stone to a regional parliament. But we need that long-term vision. Given all that is happening in Scotland (and beginning to kick off in Wales) the only sensible solution in England is for reasonably large regional bodies with similar powers to Scotland and Wales, which reflect historic cultural identities but also make sense as functional units. Yorkshire ticks all the right boxes.

The most pressing issue is what happens after May 7th. There is a lot of scope for co-operation in areas of common agreement. Should we run joint candidates in local elections, or support each others’ candidates based on who has best chance of winning? Everything should be up for discussion. We have a lot to learn from each other.

I honestly wish you the best of luck in this election, across the UK and here in Colne Valley. Caroline Lucas has been a great MP and I hope she will be joined by more Green Party colleagues in Westminster. I’ll be going all out to get a strong vote for Yorkshire First but my sense is that we are appealing to a slightly different audience. My main target is disillusioned former Labour voters who might be tempted by UKIP and the large number of non-voters out there. I don’t want to steel votes off other progressive candidates, above all yourselves. It’s interesting that we are getting a fair bit of support from ‘liberal conservatives’ who are cheesed off with the anti-European stance of the Tories. But I am standing on the basis of principled, radical and progressive policies.

Some of the things which this avowed ‘green decentralist socialist’ would do if elected are:

  • Promote a strong democratic agenda, at regional, district and community level. I believe in the principle of ‘subsidiarity’ , taking power down to the lowest feasible level. Kirklees is too big and should be split, with a Huddersfield and Valleys Council covering our area
  • I want to see a community council for Golcar and Colne Valley wards – either one covering the valley as a whole, or smaller ones if that is what people want. I hope local Liberal Democrats would support this.
  • I am an internationalist as well as a regionalist. I am strongly pro-Europe but want it reformed and made more accountable to the European Parliament. We need to raise our profile in the world – not as war-mongers but as a force for good and a driver for development
  • I share your passion for social justice and equality: let’s make Colne Valley a more cohesive place where people from all races and backgrounds live and work together in harmony
  • We have similar views on the economy, wanting to make big business more socially responsible. I don’t want a siege economy but a diverse one, where mutuals and co-operatives figure more strongly.
  • We are very much in agreement on transport: new station for Golcar/Milsnsbridge, half-hourly trains on Penistone Line, better bus network, promote cycling and walking
  • Put measures to combat climate change at the heart of all our policies

If you want to know more about me, go to the Yorkshire First website or, for a more quirky view with my local manifesto:

So thanks for your time in reading this – if you do want to know more, just get in touch! I’m contactable on email at or or ring me on 07795 008691