I first came to know Iain Duncan Smith in 2001. I had a junior role in producing that election year's Tory manifesto. IDS would call every day to check that William Hague's pro-marriage policies hadn't been diluted by Michael Portillo's Treasury team. He was Shadow Defence Secretary at the time and had no responsibility for family policy. Nonetheless, he had decided to champion this cause fearlessly.
That fearlessness, learnt on the streets of Ulster where he served as a Scots Guards officer, was evident from his earliest days as an MP. Succeeding Norman Tebbit as MP for Chingford and Woodford Green, he was one of the Maastricht rebels who caused John Major so much grief in the early 1990s.
Again, in 2001, when he stood as a "no hope" candidate for Tory leader he showed his courage and bloody-mindedness. He stood as the standard-bearer of the Right and defeated Ken Clarke, who represented the Left, and Michael Portillo, who led the party's modernisers.
His enemies in the party, notably whips from the Major era, plotted his downfall as soon as he won the party leadership. By the time the trigger for a no-confidence vote was pulled, the Conservative whips, who should have been his Praetorian guard, urged IDS to resign to avoid a "humiliating" defeat. He refused and became known as "steel balls" as he fought and only narrowly lost the challenge that quickly led to Michael Howard becoming Conservative leader.
Although the party was performing respectably in opinion polls, Tory MPs felt IDS lacked basic communication skills. Despicably, his opponents used false claims against his wife, Betsy, to bring him down. Howard, in a sign that he may have known much more about the anti-IDS coup than has so far been suggested, refused to take action against those who started the false attacks when he was given the opportunity to do so.
Today, IDS is rehabilitated and the Cabinet colleagues who doubt his determination to pursue welfare reform would be wise to note his rocky rise. When, in 2003, he lost the leadership he didn't take on lucrative directorships (although they were offered) but launched his Centre for Social Justice.