The Labour leader painted a stark picture of a future Conservative government, accusing the party of planning to roll back public spending to a time when there was no NHS and children left school at 14 years of age.
Unveiling Labour’s election pledge card in Birmingham, he insisted that Britain’s economic prosperity rests on the success of the many and told voters they face a choice on May 7 between parties working for the “good of some or the good of all”.
Mr Miliband said: “The Tories say they want an election about leadership. Well be my guest.
“Because Britain does face a choice about the type of leadership it wants. It is not leadership to say ‘we’re all in it together’, while cutting taxes for millionaires and imposing the cruel, vindictive, unfair bedroom tax, a tax soon to be abolished with a Labour government.
“It is not leadership to be strong in the face of the weak but always weak in the face of the strong.
“And it is certainly not leadership to claim to be a strong leader but to refuse to defend your record in front of the British people in a TV election debate.
“Let me tell you what leadership is: It is about having strong, consistent ideas to change the country.
“It is about standing up for those ideas, through thick and thin, even in the face of powerful forces.
“And it is about standing up for people from every background and every walk of life, not just those with the access, the power and the wealth.
“That’s what matters in leadership. That’s the leadership I will bring.”
Mr Miliband insisted that none of Labour’s manifesto commitments will need additional borrowing.
He said: “Our country deserves a future based on the idea that Britain only succeeds when working families succeed; the idea that has powered success for Britain throughout our history. Whenever we have prospered, whenever we have succeeded, it is not because we have been driven by the success of a few at the top but by the success of working families.
“We’re different from the Tories because we believe our fates are intertwined as a nation. Each of us has an interest in all of us succeeding. Any civilised country is built on the idea of the common good. And that means common rules, shared and respected by all its citizens. That’s why we can’t have one rule for some and another for others - the rich and the powerful not playing their part or not paying their dues.
“I do not simply say that we should judge our nation’s success by the success of working people. I say that only by working people succeeding can we succeed as a country. And it is an idea embodied in our pledges, written through each like a stick of rock.”