Prime Minister Collingridge's summer is ruined with stories about his alcoholic brother. He hopes to get the political year off to a good start at the party conference in Brighton, but everyone knows that this yearly meeting can also serve to introduce the next Prime Minister to the public.
Francis Urquhart arranges for reporter Mattie Storin to receive a top secret document: a poll showing the Conservative Party lagging behind Labour by 30%. Mattie checks the information with Kevin Spence, the party's number cruncher, who hesitantly confirms the findings of the poll. The reporter immediately writes an article about the Prime Minister's precarious position.
Meanwhile, Urquhart starts to undermine the career of Collingridge's most likely successor, Patrick Woolton. He forces Roger O'Neill to have his assistant Penny rekindle her affair with Woolton. Urquhart leaves a bugged suitcase in Woolton's room, making it possible to record Woolton's trysts.
Mattie Storin discovers that her story about the poll did not get printed. She presumes that her boss Ben Landless, a friend of the Conservatives, had it hushed up. When she meets Landless in a bar, she gives him a piece of her mind. Ben Landless then visits a cocktail party thrown by Urquhart and moans about how Collingridge is less of a free market proponent than his predecessor. In a private moment, Urquhart expresses his agreement with Landless and suggests that the Landless newspapers might help the Conservatives dump Collingridge for someone like Woolton. Landless sees the advantages and orders his papers to run Mattie's story after all.
The next morning the Prime Minister is very upset with the damaging newspaper story. As a result, he gives a very weak speech at the conference, further undermining his position. When he asks Francis Urquhart who might have started all of this, Urquhart mentions the party chairman, Lord Billsborough. Shortly after the conference, Billsborough gets fired.
Believing that the insider dealing story doesn't get the traction it needs, Urquhart has a private chat with Mattie Storin. Elizabeth Urquhart is so impressed by Mattie's work that she gives her husband the permission to take his relationship with the young woman a step further.
When the story about the Prime Minister's brother and the insider trading hits the newpapers, Collingridge asks for Urquhart's help again. Urquhart offers to hide Charles Collingridge in a rehab clinic and suggests that the Prime Minister do a television interview. At the interview, however, Collingridge is confronted with so much evidence that he finds it difficult to refute the allegations.
Afterwards Mattie Storin contacts Urquhart. She now believes that Urquhart himself might be the ablest man to lead the country...