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Knight mare for Sir Cyril

Poor Sir Cyril Taylor. For years, the Specialist Schools Trust chairman has worked tirelessly to gain favour for himself and his organisation with those in power.

The one-time advertising executive for Gleam toothpaste gave up Tory party membership in 1997 and was so successful at endearing himself to New Labour that he not only saved his programme but got it expanded hugely. He was even heard saluting David Blunkett's "genius".

In fact he has managed to keep himself and his cause in the affections of eight education secretaries, ranging in political sympathies from radical-right to almost leftish, since he announced the city technology college idea to the Tory conference in 1986.

So he probably considered himself a member of the Establishment until he saw The Times on Monday.

The paper had been leaked a memo from a secretive Whitehall committee responsible for preparing the next New Year's Honours List. In the small print Sir Cyril's candidacy for an upgrading of his knighthood to a Knight Grand Cross (GBE) or "Companionship of Honour" (CH) was discussed: "Cyril Taylor should not be taken at GBE, as this would be at the expense of an unknighted individual. The case for Taylor was a strong one, but the Committee did not believe that he could be considered to be of sufficient stature to warrant a CH either." Unkind.

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