Leading article: Bicycle rage

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When John Prescott failed the 11-plus, his father denied him the new bicycle he had been promised. Thus were the iniquities of academic selection revealed to the boy who would go on to become the Deputy Prime Minister.

As has been remarked, this sad tale makes Mr Prescott's opposition to the forthcoming Secondary Education Bill more understandable, if not defensible. His recent objection to the creation of "good schools" was bizarre, even by his standards. But this outburst was surely born of long-suppressed grief: bike rage.

And Mr Prescott is now back-pedalling. Yesterday he proclaimed that he had come round to the Government's plans. But his support comes at a high price. He has ensured that the hands of schools will be tied and that Local Education Authorities will continue to call the tune. Wouldn't it have been cheaper if a whip round had been organised to buy Mr Prescott the bicycle?

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