Mystery of the 'lipstick' on Kennedy's collar

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Indy Politics

William Hague ran away. David Blunkett felt a heart-wrenching anguish. Charles Kennedy flirted with the girls.

MPs' stories of their first day at school, revealed yesterday, are full of drama and pathos. Most heart-rending is the account of David Blunkett, the Secretary of State for Education, who was left at a boarding school for the blind at the age of four.

The stories have been written for a competition run by the Pre-School Learning Alliance as part of its campaign to highlight the role playgroups play in the communities they serve. More than 100 MPs agreed to write a story about their first day at school to read to a pre-school in their constituency.

Mr Hague recalls following his three sisters and his father to Greaseborough primary school in Rotherham - which his grandfather had helped build. By lunch time, he had had enough and went home.Miss Widdecombe was waved off to school by her mother and favourite panda but disaster befell her when she left by the wrong gate and could not find her mother - or the bear.

Mr Blunkett's story has more literary flourishes than those of his colleagues on the opposition benches. He talks of the cathedral bell tolling and the warmth of the late afternoon sun fading as he was taken to his first school.

The Tory John Redwood recounts his surprise that other children were crying and clinging to their mothers. Presumably, his disapproval would have included his colleague, Theresa May, his party's education spokeswoman, who had to be carried screaming into school by the headmistress who announced: "Look what a silly little girl we have here."

The Liberal DemocratMatthew Taylor was ticked off for wearing long trousers. "In trouble before I'd even got in the door for breaking a rule I didn't know about and for a decision I didn't make. No wonder I ended up in Parliament."