Oratory was refuge from Labour quandary

30th December 1994 at 00:00
Tony Blair must have had a tricky summer at home, wondering what was to be done with his son.

We hear there were mutterings in Walworth Road: something about Labour's commitment to sort out the grant-maintained schools fiasco by rounding them all back into the local authority fold. No great problem, since the response of parents generally to all the Tory boasts and bribes had been distinctly unimpressive, and the Government itself was quietly backing off. Suddenly, one supposes, someone pushed the latest parent survey under his nose. "Cor blimey, we can pack him off to Oratory and call it Policy!" No point in appearing doctrinaire and rigid and principled.

Did he reckon, one wonders, with all those parents and governors and teachers who have steadfastly refused to feather their own nests at the expense of their neighbours down the road. In many cases that meant personal courage as well as collective selflessness.

The opt-outers were beaten two to one at our school, but it was a bloody business and in the end there were no winners. Most of us opposed to opting out were pretty sure at the time that we were fighting for a policy that the Labour party roundly endorsed - though we weren't prepared to wait to be bailed out. Just as well, it seems.

Forget the fact that Labour seems to have no education policy of its own and in its current embarrassment the party's education spokesman, David Blunkett, speaks in riddles so obscure as to confound Oedipus himself - we'd probably buy the argument that they were keeping their powder dry. Forget the issue of integrity. At the level of political nous, Tony Blair has blown the whole thing. Could it be that he really is after all, still too wet behind the ears to be a credible alternative? Labour with too many left feet? Again!

MALCOLM ROSS

16 Broad View

Dartington

Totnes, Devon

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