All the talk in advance of David Cameron's speech was of the need for it to strike an optimistic note. And it did - to a point. He talked about "how good things could be", but then spent a long time listing all the things that needed to change in order to get there. He received standing ovations for his words on Afghanistan and on tackling poverty, but it was the very personal remarks he made about his own family that may be best remembered. The Tory leader said he wanted the speech to address the questions, "Why us? Why now? Why me?" How successfully did he do that? Only time will tell.
The Full Story: Cameron's speech
David Cameron told his party's conference he was "ready to be tested" if the Tories win power next year. In a speech light on policy and strong on beliefs, he said there was pain ahead for Britain, but also gain.
I'm up to the test, Cameron says
Mr Cameron paid tribute to his wife and said she sustained him
Mr Cameron's wife Samantha accompanied her husband to the conference hall wearing a £65 Marks and Spencer dress. She stayed firmly in the audience until after the speech, but smiled when her husband said she kept him going after the death of their son Ivan.
M&S dress for Samantha Cameron
Shadow foreign secretary William Hague promised to base foreign policy on Britain's national interest if the Tories win power. He also vowed to boost UK-US relations, which he said had been "mismanaged" by Labour.
Foreign policy 'must promote UK'
Ahead of Liam Fox's conference speech, it emerged that he wants to cut Ministry of Defence costs by 25%. Significant reductions in civilian staffing levels seem likely.
Tories 'to cut MoD costs by 25%'
Former head of the Army chief General Sir Richard Dannatt is to become a defence adviser to the Conservatives in the House of Lords.
Ex-Army chief 'offered Tory role'
Yet more on all things champagne-related, it has emerged that a Tory party member was arrested on Wednesday nights over claims he stole a £150 bottle of bubbly from the Midland Hotel. Philip Whittington, 27, was held by police overnight, but later released without charge after apparently explaining it had all been a misunderstanding and he was willing to pay for the champagne after all. However, the party was not satisfied. A spokesman said: "We have banned the individual from attending any further conference events and are considering what further action may need to be taken."
Owen Patterson forgets his lines for a moment
Shadow Northern Ireland secretary Owen Patterson appeared to have a moment of blankness during his speech to the conference. During a session entitled "Great Britain", he said, "We will bring an end to..." and then seemed to forget quite what it was it the Tories were proposing to do away with. He did eventually regain composure and explained that it was in fact "shared mandates in Stormont and Westminster".
Newspapers have been going to great lengths to catch unsuspecting Tories glass-in-hand. On Wednesday, the Daily Mirror had reporter David Collins dress up as a bow-tied waiter to offer shadow chancellor George Osborne its own brand of bubbly cocktail. But it seems the stunt failed. According to the Mirror, an aide "snatched the flute and vanished into the crowd" - the Guardian suggests Collins was shown the door by Mr Osborne's minders.
'BARELY A BEARD'
The Tories may be ahead in the polls but they are lagging behind in the facial hair department. The Beard Liberation Front has awarded Labour the title of Most Hirsute Party Conference of 2009. While beards were "largely kept of the platform" at the Labour conference, they were still to be found in the audience, the BLF says. In contrast, they were "disappearing fast" among the Lib Dems and at the Tory gathering, "barely a beard was spotted".
On the subject of hair, the Tories have been told they will have to clear out of Manchester Central arena in record time after David Cameron's speech this afternoon. The party has to make way for a hairdressers' convention.
RIGHT TO DISCRIMINATE?
Tetchy scenes at the Stonewall fringe meeting, as shadow minister Nick Herbert clashed with Christian rights campaigners. "Will Christians have rights in this PC world you are trying to build?," asked one, angry about the prosecution of a couple who ran a guest house for refusing accommodation to a gay couple. "If you are offering services to the public you can not discriminate," replied Mr Herbert to cheers from the gathering.
Shadow Home Secretary Chris Grayling: ''I hope that this isn't a political gimmick''
Policy announcements have come thick and fast this week, so much so that not every member of the shadow Cabinet was always in the loop. Such was the predicament of Chris Grayling when he was asked what he thought about the appointment of General Sir Richard Dannatt as a Tory adviser. He apparently misunderstood and, thinking it was a Labour coup, pronounced with some scepticism that these things could often be just "a political gimmick". Mr Grayling was eventually brought up to speed and said that, of course, he was delighted the general would be joining the Tory team.
Grayling laughs off Dannatt gaffe
SPEECH OF A THOUSAND CUTS?
Bookmaker Paddy Power is offering punters a flutter on the number of times David Cameron will use the word "cuts" in his keynote speech on Thursday. It's 2/1 on that he will exceed Gordon Brown's total last week of 12. Paddy Power spokesman Darren Haines said: "Cameron will be keen to make his mark in what is fast becoming a manhood measuring contest as to who can promise the biggest cuts."
DAVID CAMERON'S SPEECH
David Cameron: "This big government has reached the end of the road"
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