David Cameron today attempted to prove that the Conservatives and not Gordon Brown have the vision to govern the UK.
Addressing business leaders, he said: "I have a clear vision of Britain - where people have more opportunity and power over their lives.
"A Britain where families are stronger and society is more responsible. And a Britain which is safer and greener."
Mr Brown had said he decided not to call a general election for this month because he wanted time to set out his vision for the country.
Since then, however, the 'Brown bounce' that led the prime minister's advisers to urge him to call a snap election has disappeared as Labour slumps 13 points behind the Tories in the polls.
In his annual address to the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), the Tory leader attempted to capitalise on the slew of blunders that have undermined the prime minister's claim to competency.
Speaking after the HMRC data loss and a fresh row over political funding in the Labour party, Mr Cameron said Mr Brown's government was now suffering from bureaucratic over-reach and incompetence.
He offered an alternative, promising a Conservative government that would "trust" individuals, families, businesses and communities to get on with their lives.
Mr Cameron said: "In place of the bureaucratic age which sees wisdom, power and moral authority invested in the state and its growing army of agencies and quangos we see a new post-bureaucratic age where the information revolution and our new world of freedom makes it possible to put real power in people's hands."
Mr Brown's advisers are aware the prime minister is vulnerable to voter fatigue, having been intrinsically involved with Tony Blair's ten-year administration.
Playing against this today, Mr Cameron repeatedly promised renewal, telling the CBI a "big change" was coming.
He said the country needed a "big change" in its style of government, scrapping the "big, cumbersome, centralised bureaucracies trying to control a world that has moved on."
Mr Brown has been vulnerable to allegations of a Stalinist-approach to government and Mr Cameron was keen to portray the prime minister as a bureaucrat.
Emboldened by the series of negative headlines that have troubled the government, the Tory leader declared: "Big centralised bureaucracies are incompetent and they cannot be trusted."
He continued: "What we have learnt over the last few days is that when it comes to regulation and legislation there is one law for government and another one for everyone else.
"These people, they set up these quangos, they pass these laws, they introduce these regulations, they insist on this bit of scrutiny, that bit of compliance - and whether it is their own government debts or their own party machine they just don't obey it."
Attempting to present a picture of chronic incompetence and waste on the part of the government, he detailed Tory criticisms of the Department for Work and Pensions, national literacy strategy, qualifications and curriculum authority, Home Office and Ministry of Defence.
Mr Cameron concluded: "There is a time in the life of every government when they've been in power for so long that complacency tips over into arrogance, and arrogance even becomes indifference to the law.
"They've passed that point and change, real change, is needed for Britain."
The Conservatives would be the "government for a post-bureucratic age", he promised; careful with public money, competent in administration and conscious of the limitations of government.
Today marks Mr Cameron's second speech to the CBI after he pulled out of last year's conference at the last minute.
Commentators interpreted this as an attempt to distance the Tories from big-business and former CBI director general Sir Digby Jones likened it to Tony Blair pulling out of the TUC congress in 1996.