THERE are interesting parallels between the Tory proposals for state pensions and Mr Blunkett's plans for school funding.
Apparently, none of us wants gimmicks, such as winter-fuel payments, free television licences and education authorities. We just want the cash in our hands to spend as we wish.
But we are quick to notice that it is the same amount of cash and unlikely to change our lives radically. I am also a little sceptical about the idea that we shall be free to make our own decisions on spending, given the prescriptive nature of Standards Fund grants. However, this ear's unexpected "Brown Money" came without detailed instructions, so perhaps they mean it. The unfortunate analogy between "Brown Money" and "brown envelopes" is bound to present itself to headline-writers as the next election approaches.
In the meantime, I look forward with relish to seeing the same rigour enjoyed by education applied to the health service. Zero tolerance of failure. Poverty and social deprivation are no excuse for ill health. Mortality rates to be cut by 50 per cent by 2002 or the Health Secretary resigns.
Well, it's worked for us, hasn't it?