When we first started working together in opposition I was struck by Michael's phenomenal work ethic. His small office in the House of Commons was the work space for him and three researchers and advisers, all working solidly to supply the output demanded by their boss.
I recommended a book I'd read a few months earlier (E. D. Hirsch's The Schools We Need). He read it that weekend together with Cultural Literacy by the same author. His desk was and is decorated with piles of books he'd be standing by to read next, or books he'd read and wanted to remember. He is one of the most well-read and well-informed people I have met in politics.
His planning for government was meticulous. On day one, the Academies Bill was ready for the Parliamentary draftsmen and the sign on the building was changed from the Department for Children, Schools, and Families to the simpler Department for Education. It was the end to business as usual and the beginning of the most successful period of education reform since the war. All because of Michael and his absolute passion for ensuring that those from poorer and deprived backgrounds have the quality of education that those from wealthy families take for granted in the private sector.
For me those first few months were the most demanding of my life, working day and night to deliver my share of the reform programme to his demanding timetable. But sharing Michael's convictions about how to reform and improve our education system, and inspired by his determination and hard word work, meant I enjoyed every minute.
Michael is a conviction politician. He is determined to make the weather, to change our country for the better. He doesn't let obstacles get in the way of his drive for improving the life chances and opportunities of those who are failed by government. He is demanding but, in my experience, incredibly loyal and supportive of his colleagues. He set a clear direction but gave me the freedom and autonomy to develop the agenda and shape legislation.
Working for him you know that you are on a mission guided by principle. For me this was extremely motivating and felt hugely worthwhile. After all the knocks we get as politicians working on Michael's team to deliver real and meaningful change was worth all the pain. It's what politics should be about.
Nick Gibb is the schools minister and Conservative MP for Bognor RegisSuggest a correction