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This paper, which is a response to a previous one by Charles Batteson (1997) published in the Journal, challenges the view that James Callaghan's personal intervention in the politics of education in 1976 in making the Ruskin Speech was pivotal in shaping the subsequent direction of Labour' policies for school reform. The paper also queries the idea that the Ruskin Speech was the immediate harbinger of New Right education policies. Instead, it is suggested, the historical record points up that such policies gained ascendancy only some ten years later, the intervening period being dominated more by an acceptance of the educational consensus constructed by the Labour leadership in 1976–77.