Keir Starmer walked to the podium at the Labour Party conference on Tuesday with a stonking seventeen point polling lead in his back pocket, banks withdrawing new mortgage deals because of a lack of confidence in the government, and a rolling Sterling crisis. Not since 1979 has a leader of the opposition had such a favourable backdrop to their annual party speech.

Then of course it was Margaret Thatcher who four years earlier had seized control of the Conservative Party from Ted Heath. She understood then that she had one shot at winning a General Election and returning the Conservative Party to government. She was under no illusion about the scale of the challenge and the fate that would await her if she failed. Those long years of opposition were not easy and her political demise was regularly predicted. She was adroit, however, at political manoeuvring while all the time staking out policy positions and spelling out her political philosophy. Nor when victory came in 1979 did Mrs Thatcher lead a team into government that indisputably shared her views and vision. Winning the election was just the start of a long haul and never ending battles with her party and her colleagues.