WHAT is it about grammar schools that makes everyone so nervous? Observers in Kent, where campaigners are now regrouping for a second assault on the selection system, have been bemused by Labour MPs' recent silence on the subject.
Once-vociferous in their support, these local figures - many elected unexpectedly in Labour's 1997 tidal wave - have now become positively Trappist.
Nothing, presumably, to do withthe Labour leadership's own vow of silence on the issue - putting it all in the hands of parents and setting up a ballot system that makes it impossible for the anti-selection brigade to win.
That prompted CASE, the Campaign for State Education, to write to David Blunkett urging him to take more of a lead. This week, it received a belated reply - written by a civil servant and studiously non-committal.