Tory Leadership Contests
It was a bravura performance. Iain Duncan Smith, the self-styled 'quiet man' of British politics, turned up the volume to tell party critics, 'I won't quit.'
The 2003 Conservative leader's conference speech netted 14 standing ovations - some of which were not even orchestrated.
'Wonderful speech,' declared one senior Conservative MP. 'Of course, he'll be gone by Christmas,' he added gleefully.
And he was.
For sheer intrigue, brutality, and, yes, frequency you cannot beat a Tory leadership contest.
Fifteen years on from the most stunning coup of all, the Conservative Party is still struggling to come to terms with the seismic toppling of Margaret Thatcher.
At the time, getting rid of a Tory leader, even one with three election victories under her belt, was a straightforward process.
Party rules allowed for an annual election provided a challenger could secure a proposer and seconder.
In November 1989 such a challenge emerged in the shape of pro-European stalking horse Sir Anthony Meyer.
The Prime Minister survived, but 60 MPs refused to back her and by 1990 the plotters were closing in.
In round one of the leadership vote, Baroness Thatcher easily beat challenger Michael Heseltine, by 204 votes to 152, but it was not enough to stave off a second ballot.
The Prime Minister defiantly marched out of the Paris Summit to declare she would 'fight on' but, stunned by a series of meetings with Cabinet colleagues, a shell-shocked leader left office in tears.
Shamed Tory MPs sought to assuage their guilt by killing off the chances of the chief assassin, leaving Heseltine out in the cold with contender Douglas Hurd.
Thatcher anointed John Major as 'one of us' but, in doing so, set the Tories on the path of the pathologically ungovernable.
Major led the party to an unlikely fourth election victory (with the highest number of votes achieved in a general election, before or since), secured vital concessions for Britain in Europe, took us into the first Gulf War and, eventually, bought inflation to its lowest level in 30 years. …