Government is something which should be conducted without sentiment. This is especially true in tough economic times. For some time I have toyed with the idea of writing a column suggesting that David Cameron should make Ken Clarke Chancellor when he wins the election. The very idea will cause some spluttering in certain quarters, and I understand why, but let me explain.
The idea of making Ken Clarke Chancellor should in no way be taken as a criticism of George Osborne. I think George has grown into the job in a way many people doubted he was able to. And in normal economic circumstances I wouldn't be suggesting a move for him. However, we are no longer operating in normal circumstances, and I doubt very much that normality will have returned by the time of the next election. We will be entrenched in a recession. And that's why Ken Clarke should be brought back
Ken Clarke got us out of one recession when he was Chancellor, let him do it again. Clarke is popular in the country, in a way that no other Tory Shadow Cabinet Minister is. They like his blokiness and his apparent willingness to call a spade a spade. He is a reassuring presence, and in a government inevitably full of people who are not household names, that's a vital quality.
Part of the issue here is whether David Cameron forms a Cabinet on the basis of wanting the best people in the right jobs, or feels that those who have earned their passage in opposition should be given their chance to shine in government. ConservativeHome explores this issue today, suggesting that many of John Major's Cabinet may be brought into a Cameron team. I think they go too far with some of their names. Stephen Dorrell, for example, is someone few people realise is even still an MP! However, the principle is sound - bring in a few people with experience of government.