The British government managed to win a vote in parliament on 27th January on a key piece of domestic policy. The government's majority was cut from 161 to 5 in the vote on higher education funding, which has been seen as a major test of the authority of the Prime Minister Tony Blair. This report from Jon Devitt:
Mr Blair had to use all his powers of persuasion to win this vote, and only just succeeded. He staked his authority on the plans to change the way higher education is funded.
After weeks of cajoling and concessions aimed at critics within his own party, his majority of a hundred and sixty one was slashed to just five. Throughout the day before the vote, senior ministers had rallied behind the prime minister, in particular, the chief finance minister Gordon Brown, who it's thought persuaded some of the main rebels to back Mr Blair at the last moment.
Questions are being asked about the prime minister's tactics in bringing forward such an unpopular measure, and it remains to be seen what political debts he may have to repay at a later date.
This victory though, however slim, will be a relief to the prime minister. He has already received an advance copy of the Hutton report into the death of the weapons scientist David Kelly.