25/10/2011 02:21 BST | Updated 24/12/2011 05:12 GMT

Frank Field, Labour MP, Says His Party Are 'Ruled By Scots'

Labour is apparently ruled by its Scottish members, damaging the party in England, one of its senior backbenchers has claimed.

Former welfare minister Frank Field feared the leadership was out of touch with ordinary people in England.

Speaking in a Commons debate over whether to call for a referendum on Britain's relationship with Europe, he said: "We are getting the issue wrong on England.

"We appear as a party controlled by our Scottish colleagues and, increasingly in this Parliament, it will be an issue about how England is represented in this Parliament.

"So far we are on the wrong side of that debate."

He said Labour leader Ed Miliband's decision to impose a three-line whip on the vote, demanding his MPs oppose a referendum, showed the party could "again alienate many Labour voters".

Urging Labour MPs to support a referendum, Mr Field, MP for Birkenhead, said his party failed to represent the electorate's views about Europe and, pointing to the crowded Tory benches and half-empty Labour seats, he said: "In the years I have been in this House, the Conservative Party has radically changed.

"People looking in tonight only have to look at the numbers wishing to participate in this debate."

He said Europe had an "evil influence on British politics" and had been "an exercise in deceit from the word 'Go'".

But he believed Prime Minister David Cameron had "scored an own goal" by telling Conservative MPs to oppose the motion demanding a plebiscite.