Writing for the new ‘Labour Space’ website Foreign Secretary Ed Miliband has come out with strangely contradictory opinions on devolution. On the one hand he has endorsed devolution for Scotland and Wales because, he says, ‘devolution provides democratic accountability for decisions in Scotland and Wales which used to be made centrally’ On the other, when it comes to England he demands that decisions should still be made ‘centrally’ by UK Parliament MPs like himself. ‘He is still very Establishment,’ says Gareth Young of the CEP, ‘unable to live with a UK that is rapidly changing before his very eyes. He’s a captive of yesterday still, there is a lack of political imagination. The world has moved on.’
Replying to Miliband on the same Labour Party website Gareth Young put it to him straight. ‘You say you do not see a parliament for England as the answer to the lack of democratic accountability which is probably the main constitutional and political problem England is now experiencing; and your Labour colleague Jack Straw very predictably has joined you stating that ‘I am wholly opposed to an English parliament.’. Fair enough. But the two of you – you might not quite see this- are just two people out of 50 million English men and women. Just two. No more.
‘What are the facts about public opinion on this matter? Your government’s Ministry of Justice, headed by Jack Straw, has never commissioned any research into the level of support for an English parliament or English votes on English Laws. And by never, I mean never; not once, not ever.
‘However, all the following polls have found a majority in favour of an English dimension to government, whether it is an English Parliament, English Votes on English Laws, English independence or a combination of the three: ICM for the Telegraph December 2007, ICM for the Campaign for an English Parliament April 2007, YouGov for the Sunday Times April 2007, BBC Newsnight Poll January 2007, Daily Mail ICM Poll January 2007, ICM for the Sunday Telegraph November 2006, IPSOS MORI for the English Constitutional Convention June 2006 and YouGov for the English Democrats Feb 2004.There can be doubt that what has galvanised the outcomes of those polls, which you should have the openness of mind to consult, is the degree to which the people of England resent with justifiable bitterness the way in which devolution has benefited the Scots and the Welsh while doing nothing whatsover for them.
‘Mr Milband, it all amounts to evidence of public opinion that you and your government colleagues should not ignore. You are happy to declare support for democratic accountability for Scotland and Wales.yet oppose it for England. The outcome of the coming General Election might well give you cause to change your mind. We call on you to support a National Conversation on England; we call on you to come out from the Westminster bubble and give a hearing to the people of England'
Gareth Young -
http://ourengland.labourspace.com - joint co-ordinator the CEP website www.thecep.org.uk