South Yorkshire mayoral elections 2022 insight: David Bettney

Written by Jessica Lionnel

Born in Doncaster and educated in Rotherham, Social Democratic Party mayor candidate David Bettney wants to see his region’s economy thrive.

Mr Bettney, who currently lives in Barnsley and served in the army for 22 years, is now an entrepreneur in the oil and gas sector.

He tells Sheffield Wire more about why he intends on running for mayor and what his plans are. 

Sheffield Wire: So, David, I guess the initial question is, why have you chosen to run?

David Bettney: Well, you don’t just sit there watching telly and then think ‘I’ll run for parliament.’ 

For me, the moment came two years after the 2016 referendum on Europe. Now don’t get me wrong there were good arguments for both leave and for. I voted leave in the end.

However, what I couldn’t stand was the fact that there was so much deliberation about it. You would have some people in parliament saying ‘we shouldn’t do it and I thought, ‘this is a democracy’. This is what we voted for. And this continued long after the results and it rattled me.

You see I spent 22 years in the army and when we were told to do something, we did it. Even though Brexit was carried out in the end it should have been without controversy.

SW: What did you do next?

DB: It was then that I started to get a bit more invested in politics. I barely was before, but that changed something in me. I wanted to become a member of a party.

The main parties didn’t, and still don’t, appeal to me. I think they have unfortunately been corrupted and no one is really for the working class anymore.

I grew up on a council estate so it was really important for whatever party I chose to be representative of that.

SW: Was the first party you selected the Social Democratic Party?

DB: It was. I signed up for it in 2018 as a member purely on the basis it was exactly what I was looking for. Small, but perfectly formed.

I became the chair of the party for South Yorkshire around a year later.

SW: What drew you to it?

DB: I like the fact that it is patriotic. And I don’t mean that in the horrible sense. I mean that because no matter where you come from, what your skin colour is, what your religion is, I think it is good to have a central ground for everyone that lives in this country. That for me is patriotism.

It is a shame that patriotism has been turned into a dirty word. It shouldn’t be.

I also liked the fact the party was working class and has a good work ethic.

SW: In your manifesto, education and work crop up a lot. Can you explain that?

DB: Here’s the thing. I have no problem with universities. However, do I think they have become oversaturated with topics and people? Yes.

I have a degree myself and so do my children, but I don’t think it should be labelled as the be-all and end-all. 

And everyone starts so young. When I was 17 (a year before I got into the army), it was around the time all the mines started to close. I enrolled on a farming youth training scheme and got next to nothing. I didn’t even get hired at the end of it.

To me, university is similar to a YTS training scheme in terms of it being a chance with employability. You see all these students who have just finished with nothing lined up in terms of work. It is a huge waste of time and money.

I think more work schemes for young people should be an option. 

SW: What about in terms of the future? I mean, you explained University, you’ve explained education. Is there anything else that as a mayor candidate, you would want to implement?

DB: There’s only there’s only like I said, there’s only two regions in Britain that actually make a profit and that’s London and the Southeast. All the rest of us take money out of the system. I want to reindustrialize the whole of South Yorkshire. 

I want us to get from 9% manufacturing to higher. 20% of Germany’s GDP is from manufacturing. And I’ve lived in Germany, I’ll tell you, it’s one of the cleanest, greenest countries on the planet.

So it’s not a case of smoke-filled factories that we had from the 1970s anymore. I don’t want factories belching out smoke. We could be innovative.

I want Britain, and more importantly, South Yorkshire, to revert back to making things like in the past.

I want to treat South Yorkshire as a mini-Britain in this respect and get the job market booming.

SW: You mention factories. How important is it to you for the factories to be clean?

DB: Well, I am part of the Woodland Trust. I love the outdoors and think the environment is important. But we need to have sensible conversations about what we are constantly fed regarding the end of the world.

Do we affect carbon emissions? Yes, we do. 

But what are South Yorkshire’s current levels? That’s what I would like to know.

I’m all for combatting pollution, however, I think there has to be a sensible balance between the economy and the environment. That would make us grow.

The results for a new mayor will be announced this Friday. Polls will open on Thursday.

Written by Jessica Lionnel

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