Public Affairs: Soap Box - Mark Wallace, senior account manager, Portland Communications

The difference between this week's Conservative conference and last week's Labour event could not be more stark.

While Labour descended into navel-gazing and internal scraps, the Conservatives adapted remarkably quickly to the business of governing.

From the fringe to the main hall, all the talk was about serious issues - the economy, welfare reform, defence and the deficit. Accordingly, lobbyists adapted their focus. Wisely, most companies appeared to shun special pleading and are instead position themselves as potential partners to help reduce spending.

The Tories' attack on Labour was indirect, but clear. With the slogan 'Together in the national interest' plastered everywhere in the ICC, they were aggressively contrasting their coalition-building to Labour's infighting.

With the Conservatives in power, their sympathetic 'small c' movement of think-tanks, pressure groups and bloggers are in their element - the alliance they built in opposition is now adapting to the prospect of getting ideas implemented.

George Osborne's announcement on child benefit was a gutsy way to open the week and it went down well among delegates - pleasing the deficit hawks who have been calling for meat rather than mood music from the Chancellor.

After the leaked Ministry of Defence letter, Osborne and Duncan Smith's announcements have allowed the Government to regain control of the media narrative - a situation they hope will continue in the run-up to the Comprehensive Spending Review.

Privately, senior figures acknowledge that the Big Society election campaign was too woolly. By making their conference about serious, real-world issues they are sending the message that they have no intention of repeating that mistake.

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