The department for education is "marching towards the sound of gunfire", Michael Gove told a room of MPs, journalists and public figures on Tuesday, but failed to explain who the casualties would be.
In his lobby speech, the education secretary clamped down on "heads peddling the wrong teaching", promising they would be sacked, while refusing to wade in on the controversial appointment of the new university tsar Les Ebdon.
Regurgitating the phrase coined by education writer Raphael Wilkins, Gove told the room education is like "trying to run up a down-escalator" and added "there will be some uncomfortable moments in years ahead.”
"Exams will be made tougher; people will fail," he warned.
Gove then turned his attention to teachers, saying we all needed to encourage heads to "move on" under-performing staff - a plan announced earlier this year, which riled several teaching unions.
But he didn't stop there with his view of the Big Society's role in education: "We need to make sure that there is a relentless drive to ensure high standards. We should all be asking why isn't my school as good as the best school?"
And obviously, the answer to attaining these high standards is in the form of Gove's brainchild - the free school model.
"There is no part of the country that would not benefit from a free school. Professionals want more freedom and we need to give parents more choice."
As well as claiming to have the answers to the problems in the current education system, Gove is eager to not pass the blame.
"The burden of responsibility rests with us.
"The answer is not to blame successful institutions - but to learn from them."
Perhaps this was a veiled dig at Ebdon's antipathy towards elite universities, which Gove so "unashamedly" guards. Because Gove was resolutely unwilling to peddle his wares in the Ebdon row, simply saying: "This was a decision for Vince Cable to make and he made it."
And, if nothing else, that is one thing no one can argue with.Suggest a correction