Iain Duncan Smith will battle this week to keep his party's annual conference focused on policy, against the clamour of unsavoury allegations from the past.
He wants the Bournemouth conference, which opens tomorrow, to focus on health, education and crime, but it is almost sure to be dominated by sex, sleaze and Mr Duncan Smith's qualities as a leader.
Tomorrow the disgraced Tory peer Jeffrey Archer will be hogging the headlines again, when the first instalment of his prison diary appears in the Daily Mail.
The prison authorities, who were not consulted, have warned that Archer's four-year sentence could be extended if he breaks prison rules.
Edwina Currie, whose revelation of a past love affair with John Major has been the main topic of the week, eased some of the pressure on the Tory leader yesterday by promising not to go near the conference. She described interest in theaffair as a "nine-day wonder".
John Major was due last night to make his first public appearance since the story broke. He was fulfilling an engagement to speak at San Joaquin Delta College in Stockton, California.
The affair has prompted leading Tories to urge Mr Duncan Smith to keep away from issues of personal morality. Mr Duncan Smith recently criticised Tony Blair's "moral neutrality" towards the family, but in an interview with The Independent on Sunday, Steven Norris, the former Tory minister, warned: "The issue is whether or not you believe it's right to inflict the consequences of your moral view of marriage on the children of [other] relationships, who are surely innocent."
The Conservatives' opinion poll rating has not measurably improved since they lost last year's general election and a YouGov survey for ITV's Jonathan Dimbleby today suggests that half the electorate is dissatisfied with Mr Duncan Smith, and a third think he is worse than William Hague.
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