No excuses, here comes the Blair Generation

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The Blair Generation - it's a slogan likely to become all too familiar in the run-up to the next general election after it was coined by a Labour minister yesterday.

Schools Standards Minister David Miliband labelled the children who started primary school in 1997 "the Blair generation".

The minister declared rather sententiously that the Blair Generation benefited from "innovation and investment" in education and had "potential to be world leaders".

Mr Miliband, author of the party's 1997 and 2001 election manifestos and former head of Tony Blair's policy unit, used the phrase six times in a speech to the Secondary Heads Association annual conference in Harrogate.

It was a clear signal the Government intends to trumpet its track record managing the education service during the election campaign, despite periodic problems such as the 2003 school budgets crisis, the 2002 A-level debacle and the row over top-up fees.

Mr Miliband, a minister sometimes tipped as a future Prime Minister, said: "There are no excuses with this generation because they will have benefited from all the primary and secondary programmes and we know they have achieved more than any other generation up until now and we've got to carry on."

When asked whether they would be better off than Thatcher's children he replied confidently: "Yes!"

He even inferred the phrase could become a means of scoring Brownie - or should that be Blairie - points. "I don't think it is going to become a competition for junior ministers to see how many times they can demonstrate fidelity to their leader, but we shall see whether it catches on."