Gordon Brown's move to 10 Downing Street gives voters a "clear dividing line" at the next general election, Tory leader David Cameron has said.
Every child needs a secure start, Mr Cameron will say.
In a speech to Conservative members, Mr Cameron accused the chancellor of having a "he knows best" approach.
He said while his party wanted to trust and work with people, Labour would rather "tell them what to do".
The Labour Party chairwoman, Hazel Blears, has dismissed Mr Cameron's speech as a "Save Dave relaunch".
The Tory leader's speech comes as Tony Blair enters his last full week as prime minister, leading Mr Cameron to turn his attention on the chancellor.
Mr Cameron said it was an "exciting time" for the Conservative Party, which was undergoing a "big change", embracing environmental commitments and more ethnic minority and female candidates.
His speech was seen by some as an attempt to draw the battle lines, saying voters would have to choose between two very different visions of society and between old and new politics.
He said hoped that a series of proposals on issues like cities, security and the economy would draw in people from outside the party.
"I'm full of optimism for the future of our party," he said.
"We are going to have a battle for Britain to make sure we give this country the choice it needs at the next election and we have a government that actually wants to trust people and work with people rather than tell them what to do.
"But it's a battle that we absolutely have to, and I believe that we will, win."
Earlier Mr Cameron told BBC Breakfast: "We believe the right way to build a country where we have security but also real opportunity is to give people more control over their lives."
These areas, he said, ranged from childcare and healthcare to elected mayors.
However, he did say there remained some areas where central control was crucial, such as on anti-terrorism and border security.
In his speech, Mr Cameron said he valued "a strong society which gives every person the chance to shape their own life".
He also used his speech to set out his belief that the country's "greatest challenge" was social breakdown.
"It is simply no use talking about opportunity for all unless we give every child in our country the secure start in life that comes from a stable, loving home," Mr Cameron said.
Mr Cameron also accused Gordon Brown of running a "top down state control" of "telling people what to do".
In his speech there was what has been interpreted as attempts to build bridges with Tory traditionalists critical of his stance on grammar schools.
He stressed the idea of having a "grammar stream" in every school to stretch the brightest pupils and give extra support to those at risk of falling behind.
Under questioning later he said schools that opposed streaming would not be forced to introduce it, saying politicians could not "stand in Whitehall and set the prospectuses for every school".
Ms Blears said the speech was an admission of the problems Mr Cameron faces in bringing Tory traditionalists on board.
"The Tory 'Save Dave' relaunch is a sign of his weakness and confirms that the Conservative Party is in complete disarray," she said.
"While Labour is united behind the strength of Gordon Brown, David Cameron's weakness has left the Tories unchanged, unreformed, and divided."