Coalition cabinet: By 'eck! Flat vowels abound as Yorkshire mafia takes over

15th May 2010, Comments 0 comments

County is well represented in new batch of ministers, which could produce a rousing chorus of Ilkla Moor Baht 'AtSeriously short of women and whiter than the weakest latte, the coalition's high command has one unexpected claim to diversity. The Cameron-Clegg cabinet is the most northern for years, possibly ever, and Westminster is alive with talk of a Yorkshire mafia.The foreign secretary, William Hague, whose flat vowels keep alive the memory if not the politics of Huddersfield's Harold Wilson, has a rival in Lady Warsi. She loyally mentioned Dewsbury, millworkers and the Broad Acres in her first comments after appointment to the cabinet as minister without portfolio and co-chair of the Conservative party.Linguistically, both chime with Eric Pickles, communities and local government secretary, who is as Bradford-to-the-bone as JB Priestley. Nick Clegg is famous, or notorious, for mentioning his adopted city of Sheffield at every opportunity, while David Cameron, although superficially Cotswold Man, has his own Sheffield connection. His wife, Samantha, is the daughter of Sir Reginald Sheffield, whose Thealby Hall is just, to the annoyance of loyal Lincolnshire yellowbellies in the government region of Yorkshire and the Humber.The Camerons often stay there, a hop, skip and the Humber bridge away from the Haltemprice and Howden seat of David Davis influential if not in cabinet. Doubtless his pram passed the playground where the coalition's economic superstar Vince Cable was larking as a five-year-old. Cable went to Nunthorpe grammar and returned to fight York for the Liberal/SDP Alliance in 1983 and 1987 before unseating Toby Jessel in Twickenham in 1997.One of his right arms in the battle against recession is Justine Greening, economic secretary to the Treasury, who was born and bred in Rotherham. Her father was a steel industry manager and she grew up during Margaret Thatcher's struggle with Arthur Scargill. Hague, although now MP for lush Richmond in North Yorkshire, comes from Wath-on-Dearne, just a few miles away, and went to the comprehensive there.There are other white roses in the junior ranks, and the coalition also rests on a sound election performance in Yorkshire. The 6.6% swing from Labour was well up on the national 5% and the only loss was internal to the pact, Harrogate switching from Lib Dem to Tory.That was compensated for by the Lib Dems taking Bradford East from Labour, along with Redcar if you reckon Yorkshire on its historic boundaries as Yorkshire people would. The West Riding's bellwether seats such as Keighley, Calder Valley and Dewsbury where Warsi's parents arrived to work in the shoddy mills in the 1950s meanwhile went from red to blue.The change from past Tory days, when Margaret Thatcher and John Major visited Yorkshire less frequently than the Queen, has been noted in the county, but greeted with characteristic caution.The Yorkshire Society is still waiting to hear whether Labour's post of a minister for Yorkshire will survive, and if Yorkshire Forward, the regional development agency, has been saved by the Lib Dems from the Tories' axe."We are on the map, but then we were before," said membership secretary Rod Scholes, taking pains to avoid any bias on behalf of the non-political society.The opposition will be every bit as good at singing Ilkla Moor Baht 'At. Alan Johnson, Ed Miliband, Yvette Cooper and her husband Ed Balls are all Yorkshire MPs, and David Miliband would be just audible from South Shields, even further north.Coalition governmentLiberal DemocratsConservativesBritish identity and societyMartin © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010 Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions More Feeds

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