Cameron's Euro concerns
What on earth you may wonder can go wrong for David Cameron? Six months into the job he's got a 10-point poll lead and is basking in praise from the most unlikely quarters.
I'll tell you what - the same thing that went wrong for Maggie and then Major. It's the issue that three times stopped Ken Clarke - the public's choice - from following them. The subject that the Tory leader has barely uttered a word on since his election. I speak, of course, of the cause of so much neuralgia for the party - Europe.
Today William Hague makes his first speech on the subject as Mr Cameron's shadow foreign secretary. The man who promised to save the pound has been given the task of putting a modernising gloss on Euroscepticism. Out goes any hint that the Tories are backward looking Little Englanders. In comes the idea that they are forward looking reformers urging Europe to pursue free trade and free markets and not new ways to run itself or Britain. (The Sun calls this "going soft" on Europe even though all Mr Hague will have changed is language and tone, and not policy)
What he won't mention though are three letters that are giving him and his party a political headache. They are EPP, and they stand for European People's Party. That's the name for the European movement of the centre right which includes the parties which run 10 European governments, including those in Germany and France and - albeit uncomfortably - has included the Conservative Party for many years too.
Eurosceptic Tories persuaded David Cameron to promise to do something that Mr Hague and indeed Mr Duncan Smith and Mr Howard did not do when they were leader - to get out of a grouping they regard as unreformably federalist. It's a promise that Mr Hague now has to deliver but which is enraging many in Europe.
The German Chancellor Angela Merkel - a Christian Democrat - has refused to meet David Cameron because of his stance on the EPP. Merkel has though formed a close bond with Tony Blair and last week met Gordon Brown who hopes to do the same.
Many of Mr Cameron's Euro MPs are even less impressed - leaving a big group will rob them of the right to chair European committees. They say that they promised both their electorates and their European allies that they would stay in the EPP until the next Euro elections - and many will simply refuse to move. Their opposition is fuelled by the news of who their new allies might be - a Polish party they accuse of homophobia, a Lithuanian party they call extreme and a lone Irish republican and a campaigner for Italian pensioners' rights. Mr Hague has been counting on the Czech governing party to give his new group credibility but they are locked into tricky coalition building at home and may not be ready - yet at least - to break coalitions in Europe.
Some Eurosceptics urge the Tories to sit on their own in the European Parliament though that would allow Labour to have enormous fun at their expense. Witness Tony Blair last December:
"If the Conservatives withdraw from the EPP, Jean-Marie Le Pen will sit there, Mrs. Mussolini will sit here, the Conservative party will sit there and, worst of all, Robert Kilroy-Silk will sit there. Before the hon. Gentleman attacks my leadership in the European Union, he should start to exercise some himself."