While few outside Westminster had heard of Matthew Oakeshott until this week the Liberal Democrat peer has been a familiar figure in centre-left politics for more than 40 years.
He began his political career in the Labour Party, rising to become Roy Jenkins’ special adviser when he served as Home Secretary for the second time in 1974.
But he never achieved his dream of becoming an MP – either for the Labour Party or for the SDP-Liberal Alliance, of which he was one of the founding members in 1981. Instead he pursued a business career while remaining involved in the background of the party.
When the Alliance morphed into the Liberal Democrats in 1989 Mr Oakeshott remained loyal, and in 2001 he was made Baron Oakeshott of Seagrove Bay by the then leader Charles Kennedy.
He acted as a Treasury spokesman in the Lords from 2001 to 2011 but was never happy either with Nick Clegg or with the Coalition. He finally stood down in 2011.
However, until this week he was still influential behind the scenes in the party, mainly because of his close friendship with Vince Cable – whom he desperately wanted to become leader.
That hope and that friendship now both appear to be over.