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Punk singer fighting for Yorkshire in Rishi Sunak’s backyard

Tuesday, 18 June 2024 15:22

By Thomas Barrett, Local Democracy Reporter

Rio Goldhammer from Harrogate.

A punk singer from Harrogate says he is taking on Rishi Sunak at the general election to give Yorkshire a stronger voice.

Rio Goldhammer, 34, is standing for the Yorkshire Party in the newly created constituency of Richmond and Northallerton.

He’s one of 13 candidates, including the Conservative prime minister.

Mr Goldhammer is the frontman of the cult goth/punk band 1919 who have toured Mexico, Europe and the United States in recent years. By day he’s a music lecturer at Leeds Conservatoire.

The election won’t be his first rodeo as he stood unsuccessfully for a seat on Harrogate Borough Council in 2016 and made a bid to be a candidate for West Yorkshire Mayor in 2020.

However, both times he stood for the Labour Party but quit after becoming disillusioned with its direction under Sir Keir Starmer.

Mr Goldhammer told the Local Democracy Reporting Service he decided to change parties as he is a strong advocate for Yorkshire devolution so the region can control more of where its money is spent.

He said: 

“We are proud of being from Yorkshire, we have this idea of history and community and purpose, these are the things you need to build a future.”

The Yorkshire Party calls for regional devolution for the county through a democratically elected assembly.

Mr Goldhammer believes this could help solve some of the biggest issues of our time like housing, which he is passionate about.

He said:

“We’re not an independence separatist movement, it’s not a case of build a wall and make Lancashire pay for it.

"It’s about making sure we have a fair crack of the whip and can make purposeful decisions about the things we build.”

Since forming in 2014, Yorkshire Party candidates are now a familiar sight in elections in this part of the world.

They typically receive a low vote share compared to the larger parties but now have three councillors in the county.

Yorkshire has faced billions in cuts since the Conservative and Liberal Democrat austerity programme began in 2010.

Mr Goldhammer says it’s left public services in a parlous state with the much-heralded £750m North Yorkshire devolution deal, which ushered in Labour mayor David Skaith last month, being not much more than window-dressing.

He said: 

“They’ll cut us and cut us and say if you sign up for a metro mayor we’ll give you some money back. But all it does is take away accountability from Westminster who still holds all the power.”

The constituency where the prime minister stands in a general election always attracts an eclectic range of opponents and Rishi Sunak’s is no exception.

On the ballot paper will be the comedic but slightly demonic Count Binface, who previously stood against Theresa May and Boris Johnson. Mr Goldhammer hopes to discuss with him how Yorkshire will be represented in the count’s plans for world and galactic supremacy.

Mr Goldhammer says he’s realistic about his chances of winning and jokes that if all the fans of his band, 1919, lived in Richmond and Northallerton he might stand a better chance.

He said a successful campaign would be one where he can spread the message that Yorkshire can be a force to be reckoned with if it’s given the tools.

He said:

“I want to use the platform to talk about the Yorkshire Party and regional democracy and devolution and what can be achieved.

"If we can get a couple of good results we can send a message that Yorkshire can’t be taken for granted.”

A full list of candidates standing in Richmond and Northallerton is below:

  • Jason Barnett – Independent
  • Count Binface – Count Binface Party
  • Daniel George Callahan – Liberal Democrats
  • Angie Campion – Independent
  • Louise Anne Dickens – Workers Party of Britain
  • Kevin Foster – Green Party
  • Rio Goldhammer – Yorkshire Party
  • Niko Omilana – Independent
  • Brian Neil Richmond – Independent
  • Sir Archibald Stanton – The Official Monster Raving Looney Party
  • Rishi Sunak – Conservative and Unionist Party
  • Lee Martin Taylor – Reform UK
  • Tom Wilson – Labour Party

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