Leading Article: Don't despair, Mr Blair

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The Independent Culture
EDUCATION, EDUCATION, education: as any parent knows, it can be a bit of a tricky business. All those hours agonising over state or private, here or there; all that homework to get through, as well as the school run (alternate Wednesdays) schedule flow chart.

So it's hard not to feel a blackboard squeak of sympathy for Tony Blair and his continuing travails with the London Oratory. Sneers about catchment hopping have been followed by just one thing after another, including the famous extra holidays rebuke, and now this pounds 45 a month levy because his policies seem to have created something of a shortfall.

But the PM should not despair: there could be something very positive, even Millbankian, here: the Direct Policy Personal Effect Directive. Ministers who get things wrong will be seen to suffer. It's got the right Blairish evangelical tinge, and it's great PR. Jack Straw fails to deliver on teenage crime? He's not allowed out after six. John Prescott can't sharpen up transport? He has to grow a beard, smile a lot and wear a woolly jumper until he does. Still no ethical foreign policy? Robin Cook must circle the Isle of Sheppey upside down in a Hawk trainer for six hours every Thursday. Tony, Alastair: Bournemouth awaits!

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