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Words in the News
Wednesday 28 January 2004
UK higher education vote
Tony Blair arriving at Parliament to meet the MPs 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:
Listen Listen to the story
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.

Listen Listen to the words
powers of persuasion
an ability to make people do something by giving them a good reason for doing so
staked his authority
risked the power he has to control people
cajoling and concessions
forcing people to do something they don't want and agreeing to do things that you don't want
the number of Members of Parliament the government has over all opposition parties
considerably reduced
rallied behind
begun to support
bringing forward
proposing so that it can be discussed
an action taken to achieve a particular result
political debts
favours he has been granted and will have to return or pay back
narrow, small
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