Don't mention the fish

9th May 1997 at 01:00
Josephine Gardiner spotlights those with the school standards brief

Formerly opposition education whip, now under-secretary of state for school standards (Stephen Byers's deputy).

Originally from Manchester, Estelle Morris has politics in the blood - her father and uncle were both Labour MPs, and her father, Charles Morris, was Harold Wilson's Parliamentary private secretary. But she has earned credit for forging her own political career in the Midlands, an area where her family had no influence.

Like Mr Byers, she has a background in local government (Labour group leader on Warwick District Council) and she is also a former teacher at a comprehensive school in Coventry. She won Birmingham Yardley from the Tories with a majority of just 162 (now increased to more than 5,000) in 1992.

Her style is unaffected, earnest and approachable, and as a speaker, she combines a passionate belief in the comprehensive principle with an unshakeable certainty that only new Labour can raise standards for every child.

Her comprehensive teaching background has given her credibility with teachers.

As a whip, she has earned respect for the way she has secured discipline in the ranks during the stickier moments of Labour education policy, such as the Harriet Harman controversy, and for orchestrating opposition to Gillian Shephard's pro-selection Education Bill.

She is a year older than Mr Byers.

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