POLITICS

Ed Miliband Savaged By Former Guru Lord Glasman Over English Votes 'Panic'

22/09/2014 22:42 BST | Updated 23/09/2014 09:59 BST

Ed Miliband has "lost touch" with English voters and fallen victim to a "collective panic" over the question of restricting votes on English laws to English MPs, his former policy guru has warned.

Asked by the Huffington Post UK if the Labour leader has been "solid" enough in his stance on the issue, Lord Glasman flatly replied: "No".

He went on: "We have got ourselves into a real pickle. It looks like there has been a panic at the back-end of the Scottish referendum which has been very disruptive."

"There has to be a very strong vision of renewal in England and we have lost touch with those traditions in England. The question is whether the party can embody it."

The Labour peer offered some qualified support for Miliband, praising him for not being "thoughtless" by insisting on a constitutional convention to consider the English situation over a number of years.

Following the No vote in the Scottish referendum last week, David Cameron said any devolution of more powers to Scotland should be matched by a fairer deal for England.

For years Tory MPs, and others, have felt it unfair that Scottish MPs, most of whom are Labour, are able to vote on laws that only affect England. Labour have accused the prime minister of exploiting the result of the referendum for partisan gain.

Speaking at a debate organised by the Respublica think-tank, Lord Glasman said the main three Westminster parties were "wrong to make so many commitments fast" to Scottish voters in an attempt to keep the union together.

Lord Glasman also criticsed Labour for its failure to make electoral headway, accusing the party of staying at around 34% since 2010 by failing to win back voters' trust

"People aren't quite sure we're on their side," he said. "They don't know whether we get it or not."

"There was a huge amount of trust ruptured under New Labour. They feel that this excessive reliance on finance and welfare didn't work out. We've got to recognise that."

"People are looking at us and they're undecided about whether we're with them or not."

Lord Glasman's comments come after shadow chancellor Ed Balls warned that the English votes for English laws issue would lead to the "fracturing" of the United Kingdom.

Speaking at a event hosted by The Huffington Post at the Labour Party conference on Monday evening, he said a so-called 'English votes for English laws' rule would "undermine" the union.

Asked how he would describe the current system in parliament, where Scottish MPs can vote on many domestic English issues while English MPs can not vote on the same domestic Scottish issues, Balls said it was "a union of our United Kingdom that has worked very well". He added: "I don't want to throw out the baby with the bathwater."

"This idea you can simply say, in a David Cameron-Farage like way, you know, we've got to sort out this situation where we stop anybody but English MPs voting on English laws, if you say we are going to do that because anything else is unfair, the consequences of that is the fracturing of the union," he said.

"It leads you immediately into two parliaments or two prime ministers or two classes of MPs. There is no way the union would survive that."

Balls said he wanted the system of governance across the UK to be fairer to English cities and county regions but he did not want it to be "narrowed down" to that one issue rather than "proper long-term constitutional reform". The shadow chancellor also accused the prime minister of engaging in "immature, puerile, schoolboy politics".

William Hague has held out the prospect of talks with Labour on reform of the way MPs at Westminster vote in the wake of the referendum result. The Leader of the Commons and former foreign secretary said that ministers were ready to open discussions with the other parties on the issue of 'English votes for English laws'.

Earlier today Ben Bradshaw, the former Labour culture secretary, told The Daily Telegraph that the party needed to tackle the "unfairness" of Scottish MPs voting on English laws. He said it was time the party acknowledged the "imbalance" in the system and made it clear it was "fighting for England".

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