Nick Wood is former Head of Communications for the Conservative Party and now runs Media Intelligence Partners.
Leaders of serious countries like Britain need many qualities to leave their mark on history. Intelligence, energy, imagination, a strong set of core beliefs and the ability to build and manage a talented team are just some. But courage is the most precious of all. And Margaret Thatcher had courage in spades.
Physical courage obviously. Two of her closest political allies, Airey Neave and Ian Gow, were assassinated by Republican terrorists, one at the beginning of her time in office and the other at the end. Mrs Thatcher herself narrowly escaped death at their hands in the bombing of the Grand Hotel in Brighton in October 1984.
Hard to credit it now but the Conservative Party conference proceeded uninterrupted. Five people were dead and 31 injured; the hotel was in ruins; Cabinet Minister Norman Tebbit was painstakingly extricated from the rubble in full view of the world's cameras, Tebbit's wife Margaret was crippled for life. But Mrs Thatcher insisted that the show must go on, ensuring that it started at 9.30 am prompt that Friday morning.
Nor did she waste too many words on her would-be assassins. In three defiant but crisp paragraphs, Mrs Thatcher condemned the "outrage" of this attempt to "cripple Her Majesty's democractically-elected Government" and insisted that the terrorists would always fail. And then it was time for "business as usual".
But for all her physical courage and amazing resilience, it was her intellectual courage that marked her out from the ordinary run of politicians. Opinion polls and focus groups might have said one thing, but Mrs Thatcher stuck to her course throughout her time in Downing Street.