Ed Miliband delivered a stinging attack on the Tory-led government today with a Labour conference speech which leftwingers hailed as the best "for at least 20 years."
But despite trying to distance himself from the failures of new Labour Mr Miliband was accused of not doing enough to steer his party back towards working people.
He branded the Tories a "miserable shower" and reeled off a list of mishaps. "Have you ever seen a more incompetent, hopeless, out-of-touch, U-turning, pledge-breaking, make-it-up-as-you-go-along, back-of-the-envelope, miserable shower than this Prime Minister and this government?"
He laid into the coalition for wrecking the NHS and claiming Britain can't afford public services at the same time as cutting millionaires' tax.
"David Cameron is not just writing the cheques, he's receiving them," he quipped.
Mr Miliband took 19th-century Tory PM Benjamin Disraeli's "one nation" phrase and made it his own mantra.
"We want a one-nation economy to sort out the banks once and for all. Banks that serve the country, not the country that serves the banks."
Mr Miliband said his father - Marxist philosopher Ralph - would love the right-wing press's "Red Ed" nickname for him "but be disappointed it wasn't true."
Refusing to break completely with new Labour policies, he claimed Labour "must be the party of the private sector as much as much as the party of the public sector."
He said a Labour government would "end the free-market experiment and repeal the NHS Bill," but didn't say if he'd sew up the £20 billion hole the Tories had cut in it.
Labour Representation Committee co-ordinator Andrew Fisher said: "Some things said were good, others bad, and as such it was the best speech at Labour conference for at least 20 years."
He said party members must campaign "for concrete policies to reverse the austerity policies that are devastating our communities."
Unite leader Len McCluskey called the speech a "tour de force" that will "offer genuine hope to voters."
Teachers' union NUT general secretary Christine Blower welcomed plans for a new technical qualification but said Mr Miliband must tackle privatisation.
And builders' union Ucatt leader Steve Murphy praised pledges on apprentices and gangmasters which showed Mr Miliband understood workers should be "treated fairly and decently."
However civil servants' union PCS said Mr Miliband was "halfway there" but his talk of "living within our means" was playing to Tory rhetoric. Mr Miliband has condemned PCS for taking action against cuts.
"What he did do well was identify that austerity isn't working," said a spokesman.
"But what he didn't go on to say is what the alternative to that is."
He said Labour should back the TUC's day of action on October 20 but nothing in Mr Miliband's speech suggested his views had changed much.
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