Ed Miliband promised a new crackdown companies and individuals who avoid tax today as he tried to silence criticism of his leadership.
Speaking in London, Mr Miliband sought to switch the spotlight on to policy and away from sniping about his performance by Labour MPs who fear voters do not see him as a prime-minister-in-waiting.
In his speech, the Labour leader demanded loyalty from his MPs, saying: “Our task, the task for every person in this party, is simple: to focus our eyes on the prize of changing this country.” He added: “We're in a fight but it is our fight to win.”
Mr Miliband today appeared to be reading from a teleprompter, following criticism in September when he forgot to mention how Labour would tackle the deficit in his keynote speech delivered without notes at the party's conference.
Rejecting criticism that people do not know what Labour stands for, today he defined it as changing a country that is “too unequal.”
His message to workers struggling on zero hours contracts was: “I am willing to put up with whatever is thrown at me in order to fight for you.”
In pictures: Ed Miliband trying to look normal
In pictures: Ed Miliband trying to look normal
1/17 The beggar
Ed Miliband casually gives money to a homeless woman in Manchester, surrounded by press photographers.
2/17 The Bacon Sandwich
Ed Miliband buys a bacon sandwich from cafe owner Antonios Foufas at New Covent Garden Market in London as he kicks off a day of campaigning on the eve of the local and European elections
3/17 The Bacon Sandwich
Ed Miliband chats with a cafe owner Antonios Foufas at New Covent Garden Market in London
4/17 The Bacon Sandwich
Ed Miliband embarked on a whirlwind campaign tour of England - but struggled at the first hurdle (a bacon sandwich). Aides intervened after just a few less-than-elegant bites
5/17 Flower Shopping
Ed Miliband talks with a couple of traders at New Covent Garden Market in London
6/17 Flower Shopping
Ed Miliband purchases some red roses for his wife at New Covent Garden Market in London
7/17 Talking Business
Ed Miliband talks with a trader at New Covent Garden Market in London
8/17 Good Morning Britain
Miliband on ITV's Good Morning Britain show on 20 May 2014, a day of gaffes in which he was also caught out by BBC Wiltshire for not knowing who the local Labour leader was
9/17 '£70 Weekly Shop'
Ed was accused of being 'out of touch with reality' after he seemed not to know what he - or the average British family - spends on a weekly food shop
10/17 Drop in Polls
Ed Miliband paid a visit to Leighton Hospital in Crewe to speak with the staff about the NHS, but faced difficult questions about polls showing his personal ratings falling well behind those David Cameron and George Osborne
11/17 On the Sofa with Farage
Ed Miliband appeared on the Andrew Marr Show to debate with Nigel Farage - but has all but conceded defeat in the Newark by-election, allowing Ukip a free run at the Tories
12/17 Wollies in Wellies
Miliband was among a number of politicians to come under fire for 'touring' the floods in the South and South West earlier this year
13/17 Wollies in Wellies
The Labour leader admitted it was 'a difficult decision for politicians whether to visit areas like this'
14/17 Missed Opportunity
Miliband's performance at the Labour conference last year failed to make much of an impression on voters, polls suggested
15/17 Sharing the Moment
Miliband, Nick Clegg, David Cameron and Angus Robinson enjoy their moment with Andy Murray, after the tennis player's Wimbledon win
16/17 Casual Husband
Miliband and his wife Justine are pictured in their hotel room in Brighton as he prepares to give his keynote speech to the annual Labour Party Conference
17/17 The Milibands
Just your average family of four?
He said: “There is a saying which goes 'what doesn't kill you makes you stronger'. Being leader of the opposition, particularly in the last few days, I know what it means. You need resilience in this job. You need thick skin. But above all, you need belief in what you are doing.”
The tax avoidance crackdown will form part of his attack on what he called a “zero-zero economy” which he pledged to reform. “People are asking why they are on zero hours contracts while those at the top get away with zero tax,” Mr Miliband said. “This zero-zero economy is a symptom off a deeply unequal, deeply unfair, deeply unjust country, a country I am determined to change.”
Mr Miliband said Labour would talk about immigration “but always on the basis of Labour values, not Ukip values.” He added: “We know that the deep discontent with the country gives rise to those who suggest false solutions. But unlike the Tories, what we will never do is try to out-Ukip Ukip.”
His Labour critics dropped plans to force him to stand down to boost the party's general election prospects, after his most likely successor Alan Johnson said he did not want the job.
After a combative speech Mr Miliband won an ectastic response from an audience of Labour supporters at the University of London. In a question-and-answer session, he was asked whether he was “paranoid” about the “vested interests” who opposed him.
He replied: “There are vested interests in this country like the banks, like the energy companies, and we need to change Britain. That is what my project is about. I am showing a willingness to take on those forces and make reform. I make absolutely no apology for that.
"Where there are powerful vested interests, we need a prime minister who will stand up to them. That is what I have done as leader of the opposition. That is what I will do as prime minister."
Asked about his poor opinion poll ratings, Mr Miliband replied: “I believe that if we go out and fight for what we believe in, we will win the election. You don't declare the result of the match until the final whistle.”Reuse content