ed miliband
Labour's leader is under pressure to make his message cut through Reuters

Labour leader Ed Miliband has pledged to "deliver fairness in tough times" in what was effectively a relaunch of old Labour values.

Labour sources strongly denied, however, that the speech was meant to reposition his leadership, however, in the face of falling poll ratings and mounting criticism of his performance.

Miliband, whose leadership has been criticised lately, had flagged his speech with a promise of a big announcement.

In the speech to London Citizens, guaranteed that energy companies would be forced to give elderly customers over the age of 75 the cheapest tariff.

"When there is less money around Labour can still deliver fairness for elderly people struggling with their soaring fuel bills," he said. "The plan I'm setting out will cut the gas and electricity bills of up to four million elderly pensioners, not through spending more money but by getting our energy firms to show greater responsibility to their most vulnerable customers."

Earlier, he brushed aside claims by his former adviser, Lord Glasman, that his leadership was "all crap". he dismissed such attacks as "noises off".

Labour had to be prepared to inherit a continuing deficit in public finances if it succeeded in regaining power at the next general election, expected in 2015, he continued.

"It means that the Blair/Brown approach will not be enough," he said. "Each time New Labour won an election, it won at a time when business was prospering.

"Next time we come back to power, it will be different. We will be handed a deficit. We will have to make difficult choices that all of us wish we did not have to make.

"So we must rethink how we achieve fairness for Britain in a time when there is less money to spend. It's Labour's responsibility to find a new approach for tough times. So we will be a different party from the one we were in the past. A changed Labour party."

He said a Labour government would achieve fairness through reforming the economy to reward long-term wealth creation, acting against vested interests which squeeze the living standards of ordinary families and "making choices that favour the hard-working majority".