I've never met Sir Gary Verity, though it was a close run thing a few days ago.
His name is rarely out of the news, especially on local TV where he’s practically revered.
Sir Gazza runs Welcome to Yorkshire, the tourist body that brings lots more visitors to the county. As if the millions gawping in Grassington aren’t enough.
He shot to fame by bringing the Tour de France here in 2014. It was a stupendous success, encouraging thousands of middle aged men to get back on their bikes, to the irritation of a great many more motorists.
He’s just the kind of man people have in mind when they call for a directly elected Mayor of Yorkshire. Or of West Yorkshire.
Or of the Leeds City Region, or some such grandiose dog’s breakfast.
Personable. Successful. Good with sheep, being a farmer. Blessed with the gift of the gab. He got his knighthood after a media campaign that raised his profile to the skies.
In an election I reckon he would beat any of today’s city hall heroes. They’re not exactly household names. Not even in their own homes.
With his recognition factor, Sir Gary Veryfamous would walk it.
And that’s precisely why he shouldn’t get the job. Or Sir Michael Parkinson. Or “Sir” Geoffrey Boycott. Or Sir Paul Sykes. Or celebrity postman politician Alan Johnson, whose knighthood can only be a matter of time.
We don’t need a Titled Top Tyke, or a supermayor. There is nothing wrong with local government as it is, if only our elected representatives were allowed to get on with the job and given the money to do it – instead of the 40/50% cuts of recent years.
The Tories want elected mayors because people stick to their old habits of choosing Labour to run our towns and cities. They think it’s got to stop and the best way to stop it is to impose Boris Johnsons on us recalcitrant provincial hicks.
Never mind that the voters of Leeds, Bradford, Wakefield and Sheffield rejected supermayors in referendums. Never mind that Boris has done nowt for London and the experiment in Doncaster can hardly be deemed a success.
With vague promises of a “devolution revolution” facile mirage of a Northern Powerhouse, Cameron and Osborne think they can browbeat Yorkshire into following the lead of Manchester, whose city fathers sold their birthright for a mess of pottage.
So far our local politicians have resisted the siren voices from Whitehall. Not even the geriatric guru Lord Heseltine could con them into swallowing Tory spin about “powersharing.”
I admire their nerve. Keep it up!