By Ian Dunt Follow @IanDunt
Union leaders are demanding a mass movement against the spending cuts as they meet for the annual TUC conference.
Coming as the Vickers report into banking reform is published, TUC general secretary Brendan Barber called for union members to take on the main thrust of the government argument by insisting on the need for growth to cut the deficit.
"We've got to build a mass movement for change," he told delegates.
"This year we had a 'March for the Alternative'. In the year ahead I want us to build a 'Movement for the Alternative'."
Mr Barber branded the coalition cuts "cruel and mistaken" and accused the government of implementing "austerity on speed" in a bid to fundamentally alter Britain's economic landscape.
"What worries me is that those in the driving seat are pushing forward an agenda to permanently shrink the state," he said.
"For them this isn't temporary pain, but the culmination of a long-held dream – a chance to implement policies under cover of the crash that they know voters have rejected over and over again.
"It's marketisation and privatisation on a huge scale – warmer words when they are wrapped up as localism and the 'big society' – but the same old hard right ideology.
"The less you had to do with causing the crash, the bigger the price you're having to pay."
The union leader also set out battle lines with Cabinet-level Conservatives on the 50p tax rate, saying calls to scrap it are "a disgrace" and promising to fight them "tooth and nail".
And he also dismissed the Vickers report, which recommended the separation of banks' retail and investment functions, as a failure.