I've just been speaking to David Cameron about the great grammar school row (you can watch the interview in full here). Publicly the Tory leader says he won't flinch. Privately he's licking his wounds.
Ironically, his first serious setback didn't result from some bold plan to change Conservative education policy but from a simple failure to consult and to understand his own party. Not surprising perhaps given the relative ease with which he persuaded the Blues to say that they were really the Greens, to love the NHS rather than condemn it, and even to applaud gay marriage.
Only a handful of Tories were offended by David Cameron's insistence that he wouldn't create more grammar schools. After all, he was only highlighting existing party policy. Many though objected violently to the assertion (by his Education Spokesman David Willets) that grammar schools were bad for social mobility which they feared could be used as an argument to close those grammars which still exist.
Hence their demand that Cameron make clear that he might indeed open a handful of new selective schools in areas that already have them.
This was not, in fact, a policy U-turn, even though it looked like one and was a presentational disaster. It was though evidence, as one senior Tory put it to me, that the Cameron honeymoon is well and truly over.