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Mr Hayes reveals his diplomatic side

Perhaps the relationship between ministers and the unions is not quite so frosty after all. When a fellow Tory MP attempted to draw John Hayes into a bout of union bashing during a parliamentary debate last month, the skills minister politely declined to take part.

Mr Hayes, it transpires, is an associate member of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers. The minister, one can only assume, must be keen to take advantage of the "highly reduced membership rates" and the opportunity to have "a voice in the education debate".

However, FErret can confirm that rumours that Michael Gove has been flogging Socialist Workers Party membership from his tent outside St Paul's Cathedral are completely unfounded.

Getting to grips with punctuation

However, Mr Hayes does perhaps deserve our sympathy, given the scurrilous elements within the FE world that are seemingly out to get him at every turn.

An associate bestowed upon FErret a letter sent by the minister, which refers to "the Association of College's Governors Council". "The misuse of apostrophes," our correspondent suggests, "(from the minister for FURTHER EDUCATION) should give FErret something to write about."

This seems a tad harsh. And given Mr Hayes' previously discussed fondness for literary quotations of dubious origin (FErret, 28 October), a single misplaced apostrophe appears to be the least of his troubles.

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