The fight is on: Miliband hits back at Cameron speech

David Cameron's speech is further proof the prime minister only knows how to drive people apart, Ed Miliband said today.

With both leaders coming away from well-received conferences speeches, Miliband was the first to try to land a blow on his opponent with a piece in the Daily Mirror.

"David Cameron has showed he can only drive us apart," he said.

"He won't stand up to the banks and he won't stand up for people like you. He stands by a chief whip who called the police 'plebs'."

He added: "Yesterday he told everybody else we have a choice: 'sink or swim'.

"We all know what he means: The wealthiest swim while working people sink."

Cameron attacked Miliband's speech in his own keynote address, accusing the Labour leader of preaching 'One nation' but practicing "class war".

"They call us the party of the better off. No, we're the party of the want-to-be-better-off," the prime minister told Conservative delegates in Birmingham yesterday.

Today's tracker YouGov survey cut the Labour lead to seven points, with the Tories on 34% and Labour on 41%.

The poll is far too early to give a firm picture of whether Cameron's 'hour of reckoning' speech will have boosted his popularity with the electorate. Surveys conducted closer to the weekend will give a more reliable indicator.

Cameron's tough speech, which suggested Britain could be entering a period of severe industrial decline unless state spending is brought under control and enterprise flourishes, was a marked departure from Miliband's optimistic 'one nation' speech, which was delivered without notes and won considerable acclaim.

Now conference season is over, both leaders will be keen to use their newfound momentum to give them an advantage in the early stages of the new parliamentary term.

Cameron still has internal Conservative problems on his plate, however, with several of his MPs and ministers demanding Andrew Mitchell be stripped of his role as chief whip for his 'plebs' outburst outside Downing Street.