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I'm in the Cabinet! Blimey!

Some of Ruth Kelly's harshest critics cannot believe she has been made Education Secretary. This week she revealed that they are not alone - nor can she.

Asked at a conference fringe meeting if she pinched herself about her rapid progress up the political ladder she replied: "I do."

She said: "I wake up in the morning and think my God I'm in the Cabinet! Blimey!"

The question of whether she would lead the Labour party prompted a torrent of loud nervous laughter and a modest: "I just don't think it is possible whatsoever, I have got a huge job on my hands at the moment. Even thinking about that is impossible."

Ms Kelly revealed the influence of her early upbringing as a Catholic in Northern Ireland, where families like hers had to try to break into non-traditional professions.

"It has given me an acute sense on what it has been like actually to be the underdog in society," said the Oxford-educated former public school girl.

The Education Secretary admitted earlier this month that she was having discussions about progressive taxation at the age of six.

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