Oratory for Blair's younger son

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The Independent Online
Nicky Blair, younger son of the Labour leader, is to follow in the footsteps of his brother, Euan, to Brompton Oratory, a grant-maintained school in west London.

A final decision on the 10-year-old's educational future has yet to be taken, said a spokesman for Tony Blair last night. "But since his brother goes there, it is a possibility."

The disclosure that both sons will be educated at a school that has opted out of local authority control - a policy strongly opposed by Labour in the past - refocuses attention on a controversial political issue at a sensitive time.

Harriet Harman, the Shadow Health Secretary, who is fighting to retain her place in Shadow Cabinet elections later this week, sends one of her sons to Brompton Oratory and another to St Olave's, a grammar school in Orpington which operates selection.

Ms Harman's decision to send her son to St Olave's provoked hostility among some Labour MPs, and her position looks precarious despite a strong campaign by Mr Blair to keep his existing front-bench team through to the general election.

Nominations for the Shadow Cabinet's snap election close tomorrow and voting takes place on Wednesday. Ms Harman's chances of holding on may have been weakened by the revival of memories about her choice of opt- out schools.

Mr Blair has insisted: "The fact that the Oratory has opted out has nothing to do with our choice. It is a state comprehensive that takes pupils from all over London, currently about 30 from Islington. It has no qualifications of either income or exams for entry. It would be quite wrong if my children were to become political footballs."

Euan began attending Brompton Oratory, in Fulham, last September. Nicky is expected to follow him there in the autumn of 1997.

Blair cracks whip, page 6