The Conservative party conference is underway in Birmingham.

Yesterday the Tory leader David Cameron welcomed delegates from around the country and said that people are “crying out for change.”

“Today the Conservative Party is so united that we don’t have to spend time talking about ourselves or talking about our issues, we can spend all of our time talking about the problems that people face in our country and talking about the challenges that we want to meet as a party and, if we’re elected, a Government,” he said.

“That is the task before us.”

Mr Cameron described the Tories as “a party that believes that free and open economies are good” and warned that “sounding off against financial markets or open economies or free markets, I don’t think that will get us anywhere.

“It’s not going to pay a single mortgage, it’s not going to keep anyone in their job, it’s not going to put food on anyone’s table.”

He claimed the party “have a very clear plan about what we want to do to help get out of this difficult situation and we’re going to tell people what we’ll do in the short term to deal with the symptoms and what we will do in the long term to deal with the causes.”

Mr Cameron set out the agenda for this week.

“My message to Gordon Brown is this. You have had your boom and your reputation is now bust,” he said.

“So let us show them what we’re made of this week.

“Let us show them how we’re going to rebuild our economy after the decade of debt.

“Let us show them how we’re going to rebuild our National Health Service after all the top down targets and all the bureaucracy.

“Let us show them how we’re going to repair our broken society after the decade of failed education reform, failed welfare reform and violent crime.”

Earlier the Tory party chairman, Caroline Spelman, opened the conference, which runs until Wednesday.

She said it had been a “great” year for the party:

“They said we couldn’t break a 40% share of the national vote – and we have.

“They said we couldn’t win London – and we have.

“They said we couldn’t make gains in the North – and we have.

“And behind each and every success is an army of activists and volunteers.

“You’re out pounding pavements, leafleting, canvassing in all weathers, and we owe you a huge debt of gratitude.

“Together, we’re coming back.”

Ms Spelman set out “five steps to success” in the next general election.

Never be complacent; stick to the centre ground; stay united; have a clear plan for change and “fix our broken society as well as our broken economy.”

On Wednesday gay equality organisation Stonewall will be holding a fringe meeting at the Tory conference.