Support 100 years of independent journalism.

  1. Business
3 July 2012

Bob Diamond’s resignation is a victory for Ed Miliband

Once again, the Labour leader set the political pace.

By George Eaton

Bob Diamond’s resignation, announced this morning by Barclays, is a significant victory for Ed Miliband. Alone among senior politicians, the Labour leader called for the Barclays chief executive to resign the day after the Libor scandal broke (a call he repeated yesterday), with David Cameron merely stating that he had “serious questions to answer“.

“It is not for prime ministers to hire and fire bank chiefs,” said Cameron. “He has to make himself accountable to his shareholders and this House. He has some serious questions to answer.” As in the case of the phone hacking-scandal (when he called for Rebekah Brooks’s resignation and the abandonment of the BSkyB bid) and Stephen Hester’s bonus, Miliband set the political pace. Even Vince Cable, who might have been expected to call for Diamond’s resignation, suggested that it was up to Barclays shareholders to remove him. But in his resignation statement, it was “external pressure” (Miliband, in other words) that Diamond blamed.

One indicator of how seriously the Barclays boss took the Labour leader’s opinion is that he called him last Thursday in an attempt to give his “side of the story” (as Miliband put it). Miliband was initially unsure whether to call for Diamond to go, preferring to focus on the sins of the banking system, rather than one individual, but he eventually resolved that Barclays needed new leadership. At this point, Diamond probably knew that his time was up.

Update: Miliband has responded to Diamond’s resignation, stating that it was “necessary and right”, while repeating his call for a juidical inquiry into the banks. Here’s the statement in full:

This was necessary and right.

Sign up for The New Statesman’s newsletters Tick the boxes of the newsletters you would like to receive. Quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics from the New Statesman's politics team. The New Statesman’s global affairs newsletter, every Monday and Friday. The best of the New Statesman, delivered to your inbox every weekday morning. The New Statesman’s weekly environment email on the politics, business and culture of the climate and nature crises - in your inbox every Thursday. A handy, three-minute glance at the week ahead in companies, markets, regulation and investment, landing in your inbox every Monday morning. Our weekly culture newsletter – from books and art to pop culture and memes – sent every Friday. A weekly round-up of some of the best articles featured in the most recent issue of the New Statesman, sent each Saturday. A weekly dig into the New Statesman’s archive of over 100 years of stellar and influential journalism, sent each Wednesday. Sign up to receive information regarding NS events, subscription offers & product updates.

It was clear Bob Diamond was not the man to lead the change that Barclays needed.

Content from our partners
How automation can help telecoms companies unlock their growth potential
The pandemic has had a scarring effect on loneliness, but we can do better
Feel confident gifting tech to your children this Christmas

But this is about more than one man.

This is about the culture and practices of the entire banking system which is why we need an independent, open, judge-led, public inquiry.