David Cameron should be on a roll. Since becoming Conservative leader, he's seen his party enjoy consistent leads in the opinion polls.
He's painted the Tories as champions of the environment, embarrassed Tony Blair over education reform, and succeeded in recruiting more female and ethnic minority candidates.
Meanwhile, Labour appears more embattled every day. From John Prescott to Charles Clarke and Lord Levy, many of the Prime Minister's friends have become enemies or embarrassments.
But there is a shadow hanging over Mr Cameron. In a high-profile by-election last month, his party came close to losing what should be a true-blue Tory seat.
Voters in Bromley slashed a Conservative majority of 13,342 to just 633, as they deserted to the Liberal Democrats.
So are his reforms working? Or is it time to give up on "hug a hoodie" politics and return to traditional Tory values?
Mr Cameron made it clear that he was not for turning. Instead, the Bromley result had made him more determined to continue his reforms, he said.
"Of course it is disappointing not to do better in a by-election, but I look at the opinion polls, I look at the local government byelections, I look at our results in local elections, and those are good results, hitting 40 per cent.
"But I definitely say to myself, it is one thing to get 40 per cent when between a third and half of people are voting. My party wants to form a Government and needs 43, 44 per cent with two thirds of people voting.
"So I recognise we have got a huge mountain to climb, and that is why the programme of changes I have been driving through will continue.
"There is no let-up in the pace of work, the pace of change, in terms of getting the Conservative Party back into the mainstream."
He pointed out that he has only been Conservative leader for seven months. He has spent that time getting the Conservative Party "back into the mainstream of British politics", he said.
"That has meant some fairly aggressive changes.
"Changes to the party, trying to select a better balance of men and women candidates, changes in terms of promoting improvements of ethnic diversity in the party, and doing better in local government, and it has meant changing quite a lot of our policies and approaches.
"Trying to show very clearly that when it comes to the economy we are not going to flash up upfront tax cuts, we are going to address people's concerns about stability and mortgage rates."
This has meant abandoning many of the policies on which the party fought the last election, including subsidising private health treatment and opening more grammar schools.
"When it comes to public services we are not going to subsidise people to get out of the NHS - we want to improve the NHS further for everybody.
"It means we are not going to have a policy of promoting a few extra grammar schools to give more social mobility, we want to change all schools for the better, and selection within the schools, to increase the chance of stretching bright pupils, and helping those falling behind, and having proper social mobility.
"So that's the first thing we need - changes to get the Conservative Party back into the mainstream of British politics.
"I have been heartened by the response. I think the party was longing to be led in a clear direction."
What does he think about Labour's current woes - in particular, the arrest of Tony Blair's fundraiser, Lord Levy?
"They are obviously serious allegations. The police are going about this in a serious and thorough way. But I think it is difficult to give a running commentary on it.
"So I think the most important thing for politicians is to try to work out how on earth we get out of this mess.
"And I think so far I am the only party leader who has put forward a comprehensive and serious plan for dealing with the problems of party funding in this country."
This involves capping donations from business, unions and wealthy individuals, capping the total amount parties can spend on elections - and asking the taxpayer to help fund politicians.
He admits the proposal is "not universally popular".
He said: "You're sort of saying to the public, look, we have cleaned up our act by getting rid of large donations, if you help in turn with some state funding, we will offset that by cutting the cost of politics, by reducing how much people can spend."
Conservatives opposed police mergers, and when the Government abandoned the scheme it gave Mr Cameron plenty of ammunition to use at Prime Minister's Questions in the Commons.
But most chief constables in the West Midlands not only backed the mergers, but argued they were essential to ensure they could protect the public properly.
So how would Mr Cameron answer their concerns?
"There are plenty of opportunities to share resources and work together, to achieve all the things that the police mergers were supposed to achieve.
"The mistake with the police mergers was a general feeling that big is beautiful.
"But it would have undermined local policing and local accountability.
"We can achieve some of the efficiencies by police forces working together and sharing certain facilities and tasks, sharing certain operational duties.
"The real answer is police reform, which means reforming pay and conditions so that actually the police are properly managed, and proper accountability with elected police commissioners.
"Not elected chief constables, but replacing the police authority with either an elected authority or a directly-elected commissioner.
"They would be the person who would then keep the chief constable accountable to local people."
Labour have attacked Mr Cameron for proposing that Scottish and Welsh MPs should be banned from voting on purely English matters in the House of Commons.
For example, Black Country MP Ian Austin (Lab Dudley North) described the plan as "disgraceful, anti-British, unpatriotic". Isn't this a strange policy for a Tory, whose party has traditionally defended the union, to support?
"I think it could actually help unite the country," Mr Cameron said.
"You have got to try and find a way of directing this problem which makes all parts of the United Kingdom feel they have been dealt with fairly. I don't think that is difficult to do, it is perfectly possible to do.
"There are Labour MPs who signed Early Day Motions supporting this. There are constitutional experts who say this is quite possible to do.
"There are clerks of the House of Commons that have come up to me and said you're right, it is a problem and it can be dealt with."
Mr Cameron hasn't only attempted to modernise his party - he has presented himself as a little bit hipper than this Tory predecessors, even claiming that his favourite album is The Smiths' The Queen is Dead.
"I have got a signed copy of it now, because the drummer of The Smiths came to see me about some charity he's trying to get off the ground.
"We had a very nice meeting, we chatted away, and suddenly he whipped it out - he said before I go, and out came the vinyl, and he signed it for me."
He is also a fan of The Smiths album Meat is Murder , he revealed.
"I am neither a vegetarian nor a republican, so I find both of these album titles very troubling. But the songs are very good."