Birmingham needs a "city renaissance" to allow it to compete against cities in China and India, Conservative leader David Cameron has warned.
He said: "Let’s celebrate Birmingham and the success story it has become - but let us do so, knowing that Birmingham’s best years are to come."
And he accused Labour of running a "London-centric" government which was dismissive of the great cities such as Birmingham, Manchester, Newcastle.
Birmingham had been forced to "beg and plead" for funding to rebuild New Street station, the Tory leader claimed.
Mr Cameron launched the stinging attack on Gordon Brown as he visited the city - at the same time as Labour was holding its Spring Conference in Birmingham's International Convention Centre.
The Government announced earlier this month that it was providing almost £400 million to rebuild New Street station, following years of campaigning.
But speaking at the University of Birmingham at The Birmingham Post 150th anniversary gala dinner, Mr Cameron said: "That money was rightfully Birmingham’s - and it’s a disgrace that you were made to beg and plead for it before they gave it."
Improving transport was crucial to allowing Britain's cities to succeed.
"And when it comes to our transport system, an incoming Conservative government will be ready to move on day one with a list of projects - by-passes, rail upgrades, toll roads - that can be green-lighted."
The Tory leader said Birmingham was "one of the most confident and modern cities in Britain". He added: "I want a Conservative Government to lead the next stage of our city renaissance in Britain."
That would mean setting Birmingham free so it could make more decisions locally instead of being dominated by London, he said.
"The renewal of Birmingham - and the renewal of our great cities - will not come from politicians in Westminster."
He continued: "Birmingham was not built by London - it was built by its city fathers. People like Joseph Chamberlain. He was a great Mayor of this city and under his leadership, the Corporation of Birmingham transformed the city centre."
The council led by Coun Whitby had announced the lowest council tax rise of any major city in England and had also improved services, Mr Cameron said. But he claimed: "Mike Whitby and Birmingham City Council are achieving this despite the Government, not because of it."
Mr Cameron also praised Andrew Mitchell, the Tory MP for Sutton Coldfield - and seemed to guarantee that Mr Mitchell would receive a job in his Cabinet.
He said: "Let me tell you, Andrew makes sure the voice of Birmingham is heard around the shadow Cabinet table - and he’ll make sure the voice of Birmingham is heard around the Cabinet table when we’re in Government too."