It is something of a surprise to find the departure of Charles Clarke for the Home Office provoking a sense of regret. Though frequently referred to as a "bruiser", in fact he proved to be anything but as Education Secretary.
Insiders give David Miliband much of the credit for the new consensus which broke out around the workforce agreement. But it could not have happened without Mr Clarke's astute political instincts for building alliances. And no one will ever forget that picture of him linking arms with the signatories of the "historic" agreement.
Headteachers helped to bring down his predecessor and their revolt over funding tempered his arrogance early on. He was never loved like Estelle Morris, but he just scraped a pass on university fees and proved a tougher champion at the other education ministry in Downing Street.