Two Jags applauds Ted's Blair satire

24th February 2006 at 00:00
Minders. You know, big chaps, earphones, regularly sighted following celebrities up the wet red carpet at the Baftas... not usually seen at gatherings of mild-mannered educationists. Until now.

Perhaps Ted Wragg's most startling posthumous gift to the education community was the presence of no fewer than four (and possibly five) government minders at his memorial evening at the Institute of Education.

Four accompanied Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott to his front-row seat once proceedings were well under way. The (disputed) fifth may or may not have accompanied former minister David Blunkett and his dog. An unusual turn-out for an education professor from Exeter, but as the tributes demonstrated, Ted was no ordinary academic.

"He would pick me up if I hadn't done something I'd said I'd do," recalled former education secretary Estelle Morris on her regular Sunday phone calls from Devon. Mr Prescott (who left in the regulation two Jags), who also chatted regularly to Ted, confided: "I especially liked the Tony Zoffis character: you can appreciate that's one I'm quite familiar with."

Another minister, David Miliband, present via video, was spikier. "He came up with new ideas himself but was sometimes sceptical of the new ideas other people had."

Perhaps the most telling story comes from Bob Burden, an Exeter fellow professor. "There was a famous occasion when a Secretary of State rang the vice-chancellor, and said: 'You've got stop that man Wragg writing scurrilous nonsense in The TES.' The Vice Chancellor instructed his secretary to tell Ted's secretary to stop - because he didn't want to do it himself."

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