David Cameron chose attack as the best form of defence as he launched the Conservatives' local elections campaign.
The party leader attacked Labour councils for excessive spending as, behind the scenes, Conservative campaigners braced themselves for a tough three weeks on the doorstep.
"Labour councils remain trapped in their old wasteful ways," Mr Cameron said at a speech in Derbyshire this lunchtime.
He pointed to Sunderland council having spent £113,000 on lobbyists, Lambeth's spending of nearly £30,000 "on a sculpture called Foxes And Cherries" and the almost £200,000 spent by Camden council on "seven trade union activists".
The prime minister claimed the coalition is "shining a spotlight on that waste" by forcing councils to reveal everything spent over £500.
He said the Conservatives should "shout loud and proud" about what they have achieved in office, but remained focused on attacking Labour.
"Theirs was an age of absurdity, when everything was turned upside down, where some people were paid more to stay at home than to go to work, where police spent more time filling in forms than on the beat," he continued.
"And where the solution to debt was, yes, debt, debt and more debt. So our message has got to be clear: if you look at what Labour did to our country, why on Earth would you let them anywhere near your council?"
May 3rd's local elections will see the Conservatives defending councillors in 2,599 seats. The party did especially well in 2008, when many of the wards being fought over now were last contested.
That year also saw the election of Boris Johnson to City Hall in London. Four years later, he faces a challenge from Ken Livingstone once again.
Mr Cameron repeated the Tories' tactic of highlighting Mr Livingstone's tax arrangements in his speech.
"We used to say: 'Labour wastes your money and puts up your taxes'," he said.
"With their candidate for London mayor we can say: 'Labour wastes your money and they won't even pay their taxes'."
The Conservative leader finished by encouraging party activists to campaign this spring as hard as they possibly can.
He urged: "Now's is not the time to put our feet up, it's time to roll our sleeves up.
"We don't need a sort-of strategy, or a kind-of campaign. We need a flat-out, full-throttle fight."