By Alex Stevenson
David Cameron has accused Labour of being "corrupted by power" in his new year message.
The Conservative leader, releasing his assessment of Britain's progress a day before the prime minister, was critical of the "debt crisis" he believes the Labour government is responsible for.
And he pursued the moral element of the recession highlighted by senior Church of England in the last week by accusing Gordon Brown of having lost his "moral compass".
"Where is the morality in asking our children to pay off our debts?" he asked.
"Where is the morality in encouraging people who have already borrowed too much to borrow a little more? Where is the morality in trying to reflate the bubble and return the country to the age of irresponsibility that led us to this mess?"
Mr Cameron has had a good year in both opinion polls and the ballot box, recording a series of strong by-election performances and doing well in the May local elections.
But his advantage has been undermined in recent months by Mr Brown's strong recovery amid recession.
And he made clear in his new year message there is still much for the Conservative party to do to win the next general election.
The Tories have to show they had learned the lessons of Labour's debt crisis and that they would "never let it happen again", he wrote.
Mr Cameron added: "We must set out our positive vision of change: to describe the new economy and the new society that we want to build once the recession is over and the recovery underway."
He made clear he wants a rebuilt society to be the foundation on which economic recovery is built.
"That is how we will rebuild our broken economy and our broken society - business by business, family by family, community by community," Mr Cameron said.
"Not through imposing some kind of state blueprint from above, like Gordon Brown wants to do, but by allowing the talent and effort and incredible character of British people to shine."