Lucy wolfs the debate

Education Secretary David Blunkett was having a good conference despite the tuition fees row. He was one of the biggest crowd-pullers on the fringe meeting circuit. Some delegates were disappointed to be squeezed out of a meeting on the education White Paper when the room became full to bursting.

Those who lured Mr Blunkett on to their platforms got a three-for-the-price-of-one deal - ministers Estelle Morris and Stephen Byers appeared alongside him.

Arriving at a meeting hosted by the National Union of Teachers, National Association of Head Teachers and Association of Teachers and Lecturers, he quipped to the chair, MP Margaret Hodge: "I mistook you for a member of the NASUWT."

Peter Smith, ATL general secretary, had criticised the White Paper's "shoot the dog and award stars" approach. Mr Blunkett replied: "I don't think Lucy (his guide dog) thinks much of that either," getting a laugh and sidestepping the argument.

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