Ed Miliband defied his critics by declaring that he would lead his party "my way" as he portrayed David Cameron as the defender of an outdated, failed system that Labour would sweep away.
Mr Miliband acknowledged his party's two big weakness – its lack of economic credibility and that he remains largely unknown to the public. "I'm not Tony Blair. I'm not Gordon Brown either," he said in his speech to the Labour conference in Liverpool yesterday. "I'm my own man. And I'm going to do things my own way."
He promised to extend to other areas the boldness he showed in taking on Rupert Murdoch's empire over phone hacking. But his pledge to change the unacceptable face of capitalism is bound to be attacked by the Conservatives as a shift to the left.
Mr Miliband won a standing ovation by declaring that the Tories could never be trusted on the NHS. But an undercurrent of concern about his failure to make more headway surfaced as delegates digested yesterday's ComRes poll for i showing the Tories had edged one point ahead of Labour. One told a fringe meeting: "We have to ask the question: 'How long are we going to go on with Ed Miliband?' It's not working."
The Labour leader admitted he faced a "tough fight" but said the lesson he had learnt in the past year was to take risks, stand up for what is right and be willing to break the consensus.
He left his speech shorn of policy announcements so as to make his "big argument" about Britain's "quiet crisis". He defined it as "an economy and a society too often rewarding the wrong people with the wrong values."
Although the address was seen as hazy by some critics, the outline of a Labour strategy for 2015 could just be detected. Mr Miliband described Mr Cameron as "the last gasp of the old rules" who had "the wrong values for our country and our time". He went on: "Only David Cameron could believe that you make ordinary families work harder by making them poorer and you make the rich work harder by making them richer."
Challenging the consensus of the last 30 years, the Labour leader condemned the "predators" only interested in "the fast buck" and said the key question was: "Are you on the side of the wealth creators or the asset strippers? The producers or the predators?"Reuse content