Miliband tries to ‘do a phone-hacking’ on Bob Diamond scandal

Ed Miliband tried to replicate his performance during the phone-hacking scandal today, with a full-bloodied attack on Barclays boss Bob Diamond.

The Labour leader won plaudits after news emerged of the hacking of Milly Dowler's phone, when he led the political response to the row and was credited with forcing the government's hands on the issue.

During a speech to the Unite conference in Brighton today, he attempted to repeat the trick, with a demand for criminal sanctions against Diamond and an attack on the "swaggering culture" in the City.

"This cannot be about a slap on the wrist, a fine and the foregoing of bonuses," Miliband said.

"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."

He added: "Too many people in the banks clearly think they were big to fail, too powerful to be challenged. They clearly believed they could do anything they liked and were above the law.

"This is yet another example of some of the rich and powerful having their own moral standards, just as we saw during phone hacking. We cannot have a country where this happens."

The speech also tested Miliband's desire to Labour's relationship with the unions.

The opposition leader has long spoken of how he wants to change the poisonous relationship between the party leadership and unions.

Labour prime ministers have often been intent on going to Unite conferences in order to start a fight with the members and win favourable reviews in the right-wing press.

"Your job is to represent your members, my job is to lead the Labour party," he said.

"Of course we will have differences. I will be candid about them and so will you."