Miliband renews his plea to voters

Ed Miliband has defended his controversial interview with comedian-turned-activist Russell Brand as Labour and the Conservatives clashed over the impact of their rival spending plans on voters.

The Labour leader used his encounter with the self-styled revolutionary to declare he wanted to see "real, concrete, deliverable change" for Britain rather than generate a kind of Barack Obama-style "euphoria".

David Cameron had earlier dismissed the event as a "joke" while Mr Miliband was widely mocked for slipping into an estuary accent and aping some of Brand's gestures and mannerisms during the course of their conversation which took place in the kitchen of the comedian's east London home.

Prime Minister David Cameron during his speech to workers at the Sertec Group in Coleshill, Warwickshire

Prime Minister David Cameron during his speech to workers at the Sertec Group in Coleshill, Warwickshire

However appearing on ITV's This Morning, the Labour leader said that it was important to engage with people who normally had little interest in mainstream politics.

"The reason I've done it is because I think there are lots of people who are not going to vote in this election, who think it doesn't matter, who think who you vote for doesn't matter," he said.

"Russell Brand has said that in the past. I thought it was right to take the argument to him. I think voting makes a huge difference."

During the course of his largely sympathetic interview with Brand - which was posted on his YouTube channel The Trews - Mr Miliband said the comedian was "quite wrong" to say that people should not vote as politics was unable to deliver change.

"It requires pressure and it takes effort and it takes people to demand the change to happen so I'm not looking for euphoria, I'm looking for a sense of this is real, concrete, deliverable change," he said.

"I think people want a sense that the country is run in a different way."

Brand replied: "I completely agree with you Ed", adding afterwards that the Labour leader had shown he understood "the way the country feels at the moment".

In contrast the left wing New Statesman magazine delivered a withering assessment of Mr Miliband's five years as opposition leader - saying he had shown "severe limitations and strategic weaknesses" - despite backing Labour for the election.

"He has never succeeded in inspiring the electorate and has struggled to define himself," the magazine's leader article said.

"His narrow rhetorical and ideological focus on political economy has left him unable to reach the aspirational voters required to build a broad electoral coalition."

It blamed the SNP surge in Scotland on Mr Miliband's "complacent" attitude and warned that he would "almost certainly be reliant on the support of a large nationalist bloc to govern" in the next parliament.

Labour's difficulties were underlined by a new Ipsos Mori poll for STV News suggesting that the SNP was set to make a clean sweep of all 59 seats in Scotland.

Earlier, Mr Cameron accused Labour of preparing a tax raid on working people as Mr Miliband claimed the Conservatives had a "secret plan" to slash tax credits for millions of families.

The Prime Minister unveiled his promised legislative "tax lock" guaranteeing there would be no increases in income tax, VAT or national insurance for the next five years if the Conservatives regain power in the election on May 7.

The move was dismissed as a "desperate gimmick" by Labour who claimed the Conservatives would have to cut tax credits by £3.8 billion to make their spending plans add up.

In a keynote campaign speech in Birmingham, the Prime Minister said the Conservative plans meant they could clear the deficit in the public finances "without reaching into the wallets of hard-working people and taking their money".

"He (Mr Miliband) would make a different cut. He would put up taxes, reach into your pay packet and cut your pay," he said.

For Labour, shadow chancellor Ed Balls said the Conservatives had been forced to promise legislation because they had lost the trust of voters.

"These promises were made by David Cameron in his manifesto. He has decided three weeks on, people aren't believing them, he is going to try again."

At a campaign event in London, Mr Balls and Mr Miliband released an analysis which they said showed that 7.5 million families would see their tax credits cut under a Tory government to the tune of an average £760 a year.

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