Miliband calls for criminal investigation into Barclays

"This cannot be a slap on the wrist," says Labour leader.

As I predicted he would, Ed Miliband has used his speech to Unite's conference to call for a criminal investigation into Barclays over its manipulation of interest rates. Here's the key quote:

[T]his cannot be about a slap on the wrist, a fine and the foregoing of bonuses.

To believe that is the end of the matter would be totally wrong.

When ordinary people break the law, they face charges, prosecution and punishment.

We need to know who knew what when, and criminal prosecutions should follow against those who broke the law.

The same should happen here.

The public who are paying the price for bankers’ irresponsibility will expect nothing less.

In response, Conservative MP Matthew Hancock, George Osborne's representative on earth, has accused Miliband of "jumping on the bandwagon", suggesting that Labour should apologise for its failure to regulate the City properly. We can expect Osborne to take a similar line when he delivers his Commons statement on Barclays at 12:15pm.

Elsewhere, Boris Johnson, who rarely misses an opportunity to burnish his populist credentials, has told BBC News that what happened Barclays was "almost certainly criminal" and that "there needs to be a proper investigation."

Labour leader Ed Miliband said a "slap on the wrist" was not enough for Barclays. Photograph: Getty Images.

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

Photo: Getty Images
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The buck doesn't stop with Grant Shapps - and probably shouldn't stop with Lord Feldman, either

The question of "who knew what, and when?" shouldn't stop with the Conservative peer.

If Grant Shapps’ enforced resignation as a minister was intended to draw a line under the Mark Clarke affair, it has had the reverse effect. Attention is now shifting to Lord Feldman, who was joint chair during Shapps’  tenure at the top of CCHQ.  It is not just the allegations of sexual harrassment, bullying, and extortion against Mark Clarke, but the question of who knew what, and when.

Although Shapps’ resignation letter says that “the buck” stops with him, his allies are privately furious at his de facto sacking, and they are pointing the finger at Feldman. They point out that not only was Feldman the senior partner on paper, but when the rewards for the unexpected election victory were handed out, it was Feldman who was held up as the key man, while Shapps was given what they see as a relatively lowly position in the Department for International Development.  Yet Feldman is still in post while Shapps was effectively forced out by David Cameron. Once again, says one, “the PM’s mates are protected, the rest of us shafted”.

As Simon Walters reports in this morning’s Mail on Sunday, the focus is turning onto Feldman, while Paul Goodman, the editor of the influential grassroots website ConservativeHome has piled further pressure on the peer by calling for him to go.

But even Feldman’s resignation is unlikely to be the end of the matter. Although the scope of the allegations against Clarke were unknown to many, questions about his behaviour were widespread, and fears about the conduct of elections in the party’s youth wing are also longstanding. Shortly after the 2010 election, Conservative student activists told me they’d cheered when Sadiq Khan defeated Clarke in Tooting, while a group of Conservative staffers were said to be part of the “Six per cent club” – they wanted a swing big enough for a Tory majority, but too small for Clarke to win his seat. The viciousness of Conservative Future’s internal elections is sufficiently well-known, meanwhile, to be a repeated refrain among defenders of the notoriously opaque democratic process in Labour Students, with supporters of a one member one vote system asked if they would risk elections as vicious as those in their Tory equivalent.

Just as it seems unlikely that Feldman remained ignorant of allegations against Clarke if Shapps knew, it feels untenable to argue that Clarke’s defeat could be cheered by both student Conservatives and Tory staffers and the unpleasantness of the party’s internal election sufficiently well-known by its opponents, without coming across the desk of Conservative politicians above even the chair of CCHQ’s paygrade.

Stephen Bush is editor of the Staggers, the New Statesman’s political blog.