Hattersley denounces education policy shift

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The weakening of Labour's opposition to grant-maintained schools and Tony Blair's decision to choose one for his own son came under heavy fire yesterday from Roy Hattersley, the former deputy leader, and other MPs in a heated meeting of the parlia mentary party, writes Patricia Wynn Davies.

Opening the debate at the private weekly meeting, Mr Hattersley left little doubt of his preference for such schools to be scrapped, rather than be made more locally accountable and lose special funding privileges as the Labour high command now argues.

The backlash continued when - in a clear reference to Mr Blair's decision to send his son Euan to the Oratory School, west London, and the softening of former all-out opposition to the grant-maintained sector - Paul Flynn, the MP for Newport West, was reported to have said that while he was a "serial loyalist'' to the party leader, the damage he had done in his constituency was regarded as "incomprehensible''.