But how would Yorkshire – home to both Arthur Scargill and Eric Pickles – ever agree a national constitution?
These Olympics might be just what we need, the glue that will, at last, bring us together as a nation. Because, let’s face it, we Yorkshiremen have always been at each other’s throats.
Take our unofficial head of state, Geoffrey Boycott. His whole career has been defined by feuds with fellow Yorkshiremen, from Freddie Trueman to Ray Illingworth. He even dismissed gentle Dickie Bird, one of Yorkshire’s favourite sons, as “a loony”.
And I was amused to see that Ed Brownlee, the rugby-playing younger brother of Alistair and Jonny Brownlee, has dismissed the triathlon as “soft”. This, of course, is the discipline in which his brothers won gold and bronze medals for Yorkshire (and Great Britain).
But now that we Yorkshiremen find ourselves high up in the medal table – 10th at the time of going to press – it might be time to call a truce and forge ahead with our plans for independence.
Because we were pushing for our own “White Rose Parliament” long before Cornwall jumped on the bandwagon. I see in its latest bid for devolution, Cornwall has introduced a policy of not mentioning England in its holiday brochures. But Cornwall’s claims to be a nation with its own language look decidedly thin compared to Yorkshire’s.
In the ninth century, Yorkshire was, after all, a bona fide separate kingdom, Jorvik. Then the Normans came along in 1066 and ruined everything. In the Yorkshire Dales, where I was born and bred, much of the dialect can be traced back to the Vikings. Off the top of my head there’s gawp (stare), beck (brook), garth (field), and gimmer (young sheep) — all Old Norse, all in regular use today.
In 2010, David Blunkett, himself a Tyke, argued in Parliament that, using the same funding formula applied to Wales, a People’s Republic of Yorkshire would be entitled to £24 billion a year. Not that we would spend it. Tight-fisted, you see. As well as curmudgeonly.
Which brings me to the main obstacle to independence. We would never be able to agree on a constitution. I mean, which other county could produce both Arthur Scargill and Eric Pickles?
The way to do it might be to start with things that Left and Right could agree upon: bring back the ridings; reintroduce the rule that you have to be born in Yorkshire to play cricket for Yorkshire; and have Jessica Ennis’s face on our stamps. At least there would be no argument about who should be our national poet (Ted Hughes), artist (David Hockney) and composer (Delius). And The Yorkshire Post already considers itself a national newspaper — the only regional one on sale in London. We even have a national dish, Yorkshire pudding; Alistair Brownlee and Nicola Adams both said they owed their gold medals in part to eating it.
I would like to end by demonstrating another Yorkshire characteristic: the “gilph”, or boast. This may sound like a pathetic claim to fame, because it is, but I’m pretty sure I came up with the expression “God’s Own County”. Matthew Robinson, a fitness expert at Edge Hill University, used it in The Daily Telegraph the other day; and when I was up in Thirsk, home of the James Herriot museum, not long ago I saw it all over the place on tea cloths, mugs and so on. Well, the first time it was used was by me in 1995, as the headline for an article about Yorkshire in Country Life. And I’ll have a feud with anyone who says otherwise, especially if they are from Yorkshire.