Midland MPs Andrew Mitchell and Caroline Spelman will head off to a disused church this afternoon, armed with paintbrushes.

While Conservatives debate the issues of the day at the party's annual conference in Bournemouth, the pair will be busy turning St Mary's Church into a community centre.

The DIY expedition sums up perfectly David Cameron's reborn party.

From one perspective, the Tories have finally rediscovered their roots as a party which believes in helping others.

Hence, the entire shadow Cabinet, including shadow Local Government Secretary Mrs Spelman (Meriden) and shadow International Development Secretary Mr Mitchell (Sutton Coldfield), are to help create a new community centre during their stay in Bournemouth.

But from the point of view of Mr Cameron's critics, he's offering the same old thing with a fresh lick of paint.

This is the line of attack Labour used at last week's conference in Manchester. Ministers claimed that Mr Cameron lacked substance.

The Conservative leader tackled this claim in his introductory speech to the conference yesterday.

Getting the party ready for Government was like building a house, he said. First, you needed to "prepare the ground", then to lay the foundations and only then to build the house, "brick by brick".

But he also seemed to suggest that we shouldn't hold our breath waiting for a firm policy agenda.

The next stage would be "not pulling policies out of a hat... but explaining the idea which defines the sort of Britain we want to see".

The bad news for Labour is that the strategy seems to be working.

Although a poll over the weekend showed the two parties on level pegging, the trend in recent months is to show the Tories firmly ahead.

The party has also remained broadly united behind Mr Cameron, in contrast to the splits within Labour.

A few signs of disunity did emerge over the weekend. Elder statesman Lord Norman Tebbit attacked the leadership for failing to promise tax cuts over the weekend.

But a minor row like this will probably do the Tory leader more good than harm.

It provides an opportunity for him to demonstrate strong leadership, by facing down the likes of Lord Tebbit and refusing to give in to his demands.

Just like Tony Blair when he first became Labour leader, Mr Cameron can prove that the party is changing by stoking up a row with the old guard.

The event in Bournemouth will be used as a platform to try to present the party as modern "compassionate Conservatives".

For example, Mrs Spelman will be inviting John Bird, editor and founder of the Big Issue, up on to the stage tomorrow morning, for a discussion about social justice.

The aim is to give the public a good idea of the values "compassionate Conservatives" stand for.

The Tories are also turning their fire on Gordon Brown. The conference centre in Bournemouth is littered with life-size cardboard cutouts of the Chancellor wielding a giant pair of scissors.

The message is that the Chancellor is responsible for cuts in our hospitals - and it will be spread by shadow Cabinet members in regional visits in the months to come.

Mr Brown is the target of the Conservatives now. He, after all, is almost certain to be Labour leader when the next election takes place.

This has one advantage for Mr Cameron. Although the Conservative leader spoke yesterday, his key-note speech will be on Wednesday.

It will be a crucial speech. But he will be judged not against Tony Blair's electrifying performance last week, but against the slightly less inspiring effort of the Chancellor.