This paper analyses the relationship between government and nurse education policy using the current changes in England as a case study. It argues that there are times when ideologies of governments and professions coalesce, signifying the most opportune times for advancement. It also illustrates times when policy shifts are made because nursing is perceived as relatively insignificant in the order of health policies and politics. It goes on to argue that nursing leaders need to be aware of the political and policy context in order to select the most effective methods of moving the agenda forward. Using UK reforms, particularly the English strategy document Making a Difference (Department of Health 1999d) as a case study, the paper analyses recent events in nurse education to illustrate the key points. The paper concludes by suggesting that the nursing profession must recognize promoters and barriers for change and commit itself to the transformation of nursing practice through the realization of a new educational agenda that embraces the principles of new democracy. Namely, these are equality, mutual responsibility, autonomy, negotiated decision-making, inclusivity, collaboration and celebrating diversity.