Junior duo not in the new mould

28th October 1994 at 00:00
The two men who will back up David Blunkett in Labour's education team are not clearly Blair-inspired appointments. Peter Kilfoyle was schooled in the rough world of Liverpool politics and defeated a Militant candidate to win the Liverpool Walton seat in a by-election in July 1991. Bryan Davies was part of the old team.

Mr Kilfoyle's by-election victory was the culmination of five years employment as Labour party organiser in Merseyside, where he pursued the expulsion of Militant Tendency by diligent use of the rule book.

The Catholic son of a family of 14 children, he took a degree in his twenties; emigrated to Australia in his 30s and returned to the city where Militant was concentrating its resources.

The campaign against Militant led to him being wrongly identified with the Right.

His politics are closer to the Tribune Left. Mr Kilfoyle, aged 48, is currently in the Whips office and has campaigned effectively against the misuse of patronage in appointments to quangos.

Bryan Davies has survived from Ann Taylor's team. He was drafted in after the removal of Jeff Rooker in the wake of the debacle over the party's policy on higher education.

The paper drafted by Mr Rooker was hastily withdrawn days before its public launch and its replacement has yet to appear.

The contentious issue for Labour is the means of paying for expansion in higher education.

The strategy seems to have been to delay publication of policy until after the report on the Commission on Social Justice had broken the ground with its proposals for a graduate tax to recoup the cost of maintenance grants and around 20 per cent of the cost of tuition.

However, the policy for higher and further education does exist in draft form, though it may be amended to take account of the Social Justice Commission.

Mr Davies, aged 55, a former teacher and lecturer, is an experienced hand within the Parliamentary party. He has been MP for Oldham Central and Royton since 1992. He represented Enfield North between 1974 and 1979.

The announcement of junior front-bench posts was delayed this week amid reports of disputes over the extent to which the 1992 intake of MPs should be promoted.

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