Sunday, January 18, 2009

Ken Clarke: He's Back!

It's official. Ken Clarke is coming back to the Shadow Cabinet as Shadow Business Secretary. Tory sources tell me the deal was sealed at a lunch yesterday at George Osborne's London home at which David Cameron was also present and will be formally announced tomorrow.

It was Osborne who had suggested the possibility of a job for Clarke to Cameron in December, and discussions between the two of them have been ongoing since then. I'm told Ken Clarke is fully signed up to the Cameron/Osborne strategy and policy. Just as importantly, he accepts that the Party has a settled view on Europe and has said that while he isn't going to change his own view, he won't attempt to persuade others to follow his line.

Alan Duncan is going to be offered another senior post, but the full reshuffle is not expected to be very wideranging. It will be announced tomorrow. I believe Caroline Spelman will remain in her job and that there will be very few casualties. There will, apparently, be no return for DD.

I think Alan Duncan has handled himself with a great degree of dignity over the last few weeks. He could easily have flown off the handle once the Ken Clarke kite flying stories started, but instead, remained quite calm - possibly to his own surprise and that of some of his more 'Duncan-sceptic' colleagues. This has not gone unnoticed by the leadership. I don't know what job he will be offered tomorrow, but I suspect it will be Environment or Universities & Skills.

To those Tories who recoil in horror at the return of Ken Clarke, I'd say this. Few of us agree with his views on Europe, but they should not be allowed to colour the fact that he is a big hitter and is very popular with people who are either soft Tories or not Tories at all. He will have to abide by the same collective responsibility as the Shadow Cabinet and will know that.

David Cameron will regard this as a real coup, and rightly so. It will be the biggest news story in the morning. But more important than that, it brings some much needed economic ballast to the Tory front bench. It's clear that Osborne will still be in charge of economic policy development but Ken Clarke will play a big role in its public explanation.

Other blog reaction from...

ConservativeHome
Tom Harris
Tory Radio
Cranmer
Three Line Whip
Fraser Nelson
Ben Brogan

45 comments:

Mrs Smallprint said...

I can't believe it, this will end in tears. How can Clarke's views on Europe be kept under wraps?

The poison chalice.

Anonymous said...

Ithink Cameron & Osborne show a depth of maturity in allowing Clarke on board. Clarke has enough balst to take on Mandelson and Cable & do some spade work against Darling for Osborne to score when clark crosses the ball.

Labour Labour Labour - Out Out Out!

Cato said...

Sorry and all that but Clarke will not keep his mouth shut and as Mrs Smallprint says, it will end in tears.

I wouldn't trust him as far as I could spit through a brick wall.

subrosa said...

I'm an SNP supporter and I like Ken Clarke. In fact if he stood in my constituency I'd vote for him and that says something because I do believe in independence for Scotland.

Good decision by DC and Co. Time they had an older statesman to counteract the unelected labour business individual.

Michael Heaver said...

So your Business Secretary wants the euro. If you're eurosceptic and vote Conservative in June's European Elections, you are a moron.

strapworld said...

This is the best move Cameron has made for months. Clarke is highly respected by the people outside the Westminster bubble. He is a fighter and the news will cause some consternation within the Labour ranks- believe you me!

He does not share the same view of the EU as myself but I welcome his return greatly.

Certainly not a poison challice- more a pint of glorious english bitter!

I do hope They do replace the useless chairman with someone who can hit the target! and bring back John Redwood.

Tory Boy said...

He's back!!!!!!!!

Football is certainly coming home.

bobthedog said...

I cannot believe that the tory benches are so devoid of talent that we need to have clarke returned to the shadow cabinet!!!

NOt bringing Davis back to the front bench is a mistake also, he is a better hitter than ever Osborne will be. Osborne should be sent to the back benches after his scandal prone summer.

Not a good day for the tories, I am now devoid of a party to vote for.

Childprotector said...

Why do you think Clarke is popular with non-Tory voters? Because in a world where most of our politicians seem so crafted, he comes over as the genuine article. I suspect Mandelson will be far more scared of Clarke than he was of the patently insincere Duncan.

John said...

Stupid decision. It will be used to make Osbourne look weak, and it will allow Labour to more convincingly shout "same old Tories/a return to John Major's day" etc...

Labour will be most pleased.

Andrew Allison said...

I agree with you, Iain.

Andy said...

Excellent news. As you say Iain, he's not everyone's cup of tea in the party and he is is going to have to follow the party line on a number of issues, especially the EU. But bringing back Mandy has thus far not done Labour any harm - quite the opposite.

Ken is generally accepted as being a "big beast", particularly where it's needed at the moment, on the economy. Just as importantly, he's got a "blokey" air about him which goes down quite well with the general public. I think we underestimate the need for such characters at our peril.

Anonymous said...

Oh good Gordy, the beast is back.

Newmania said...

Good news . Perosnally I do not believe Ken C holds the same views on Europe that he used to .Many of us have journeyed from support to dismay over a long period and he cannot be utterly immune.


Nice work Mr. Dale

Anonymous said...

Tory Boy said...
He's back!!!!!!!!

Football is certainly coming home.

......................

Eh ? is he moving to Spain, the 2008 European champions ?

Oliver Drew said...

I would say that I do not agree with Ken Clarke's views on Europe but that does not stop me liking the guy as a politician generally. It will add extra weight and experience to the Shadow Cabinet and also some direct competition with Peter Mandelson that will be fun to watch"

Anonymous said...

Clarke will squash the puny Peter Mandelson!

GM said...

Blog comments here and on Conservative Home suggest Tory grassroots are very divided - and vocal! However, to the wider public, this will look like a positive coup, and having a real human being in the shadow cabinet can only help the Cameron Project of actually going out to win support beyond the paid-up Tory tendency!

Tendryakov said...

As someone said, Clarke's blokiness appeals to the bloke in the street in comparison with the smooth anodyne non-persons who predominate in parliament. He likes a drink and a cigar, he's a jazz lover. He's normal. The european issue is of secondary importance to his personal charisma. This is cheering news.

Oliver Drew said...

Yes - adding to my original comments I think that Clarke will be popular and if he does indeed stick totally to policy, he could win a significant amount of floating voters for the party...

tapestry said...

Brilliant. Now the EU can realy wreck all our businesses without any opposition to any of their complete bollocks.

Of course Brits hate their businessmen as they hate Jews. But soon they will wonder why there are no jobs and why their pay is cut by 25%. Maybe Clarke can explain how the tidal wave of regulation is going to help since he so clearly agrees with it all.

No one has done more to wreck Britain's economy and society than Ken Clarke by making opposition to the EU impossible for any Conservative leader.

Anonymous said...

Come on Tapestry - What if Labour are in power for another term - this country will be really past the point of no return.

I don't think with Solid Eurosceptic Hague, Cameron and Osborne all in the 3 major positions in relation to foriegn policy you have anything to be worried about.

What you should worry about is the craven Socialists in government with fanatic pro-european policies they wish to persue including Mandelson wanting to go into the Euro.

Anoneumouse said...

Considering that BERR is an executive Agency of the European Union....Clerke will be in his element. This is really a very bad move

Chris Paul said...

Good! The Word ver is "pewerse"!

Richard said...

The man is not one-dimensional. Far from it. He also knows that he cannot get the Party or the British people on his side in Europe, so he has nothing to gain and all to lose by making waves there. Let him work where he'll do the country most good.

John Pickworth said...

Great news.

Ken was/is a personal inspiration of mine - I used to leaflet for him as a 12 year old. I happen not to agree with his stance on the EU; but lets be fair, there is a case for the EU just as there is one against it.

Times have changed though. The debate now isn't so much about this country's future in the EU but about all our future's in THIS country. We need the big beasts, we need people that can connect to the people like never before. The dangers are clear, let the battle be joined.

Oh and lets get Davis back too.

Yarral said...

This is the ONE thing they could have done to lose my vote. I was so glad it looked like we had a credible chance at getting rid of this awful government at last and this happens. I will not vote for a party including this man. Looks like the UKIP will gain my vote now.

Mostly Ordinary said...

The fresh new face of the Tories ... Clarke is a nice clever guy. However, what does it say of a party that has to go to a man almost 70 years old to find someone credible on business?

Rush-is-Right said...

Ken Clarke is toxic, radioactive waste to the conservative party. He has no business still being a member of it, let alone a spokesman. He is irretrievably linked with the latter years of the John Major government and the fall out over Europe was largely his fault.

This is a bad mistake.

Bond007 said...

Lot's of comments by the Left whingers / Labour supporters here (including ageist comments)

What are you worried about?

Shirking From Home said...

As long as I get the long overdue EU referendum. More doubtful now.

Left Field said...

Some of these comments are hilarious.

David Cameron brings in one of the best assets the Tories have and they say it's terrible, some aren't even going to vote for the party.

It reminds me of Labour in the 80s. These posters haven't yet twigged that unity is an important part of the path to power.

For me, please keep fighting, it's highly entertaining.

Anonymous said...

Come on Labour Party and Lord Sleaze trolls.

Let us briefly look at Lord Sleaze who was brought in by Gordo mainly to shut up enemies in his party like Charles Clark who was braying for Gordo's blood. Lord Sleaze sided with
Blair and when Gordo fumed, said to him in a phone call that he can destroy him. Until a few months ago, Gordo was held in contempt by Lord Sleaze. Gordo is so much pushed into background now every one can see that Lord sleaze is the real PM. Gordo was terrified of Blairites and hence Lord Sleaze's entrance.

Ken Clarke and David Cameron are not mortal enemies with visceral hatred palpable beween them. They have just one disagreement on Europe which every party has. Unlike Gordo with his baggage, Cameron is a new generation of Tory leaders with whom Ken can easily work with.
Let us not forget Ken is an MP and
brings legitimacy of a constituency unlike the parachuted Lord Sleaze. Andrew Gilligan is digging to uncover funds and their origins from which Lord Sleaze bought his state house. His exit 3rd time is not far away.

Ian said...

The tories would do well to stop going on about Europe and the Euro in such negative terms.

Britain is as much a part of Europe as France, Italy, Germany, etc., etc. The EU is a reality and it's not going to go away.

The Euro is just another currency. It spends just as easily as almost any other currency. Any currency's value is measured by what you can buy with it. Right now the Euro is doing OK whilst the Zimbabwe Dollar is not. We all know why. It's not like particle physics. It's quite straightforward. Right now the Euro looks a lot more attractive than the poor old Pound and it's bosom pal the US Dollar.

So the tories should stop banging on about Europe and the Euro. It does them no credit and not much good. Given the pickle we are in it probably doesn't really matter very much to the electorate either.

People in glass houses etc., etc.

Bond007 said...

Left Field - "Some of these comments are hilarious."

- haven't you realised that many of these comments are made by your Labour friends?

(Mrs Smallprint, Cato, Bobthedog, John, Anoneumouse, Yarral etc)

Wortel said...

So Ken is back, after all.

The question now is not can HE keep quiet about Europe... but rather, can the Eurosceptics in the Tory party accept him?

Judging from the furore during the speculation that Cameron's was going to bring him in, that is far from certain...

It will be a test of how much the eurosceptic party faithfull really want a Conservative government and whether they accept that in order to get back in, they need to be inclusive rather than exclusive!

DiscoveredJoys said...

I think it is a good move for the Conservatives to bring back a 'big beast' who the public know and largely respect.

If he fails to toe the party line in shadow cabinet decisions he can always be sacked - and even this could look positive - a sort of 'sale or return' policy.

I'd like to see the same policy extended to DD (a shadow cabinet role for Liberties?) and Redwood, although I'm not sure what role could be offered JR.

Left Field said...

@Bond007

Possibly some are made by Labour supporters, but to say they all are is rather naive. I can sense their eyes swivelling at the thought of anyone pro-european.

Incidently, I haven't voted Labour since 2001 ;-)

Anonymous said...

Smart move bringing Ken Clarke back. I happen to agree with his views on Europe. But what's good to see is that DC is confident enough to surround himself with people are who are are willing to disagree with him on issues - instead of surrounding himself with sycophants.

bill hilton said...

Good decision. I constantly float between the left end of the Tory party and the Liberal end of the Lib Dems. Ken's return brings me much more strongly into the Tory camp, and I think it will do the same for many others.

JoeF said...

Away from the tiny crowd for whoom European policy is the only topic, this will be seen as very positive. Bring back the man who brought you a 15 year economic boom, to get out the man who brought you the worst recession since 30s.

The other point of course is Clarke clearly thinks Conservatives will win next election.

Niccolo Machiavelli said...

I seem to remember that Clarke was very popular with the party membership when he was chancellor of the exchequer.

Anonymous said...

Who cares about Clarke's views on Europe? He is in a minority in the conservative party - that does not mean he cannot be a cabinet member.

Are people missing a wider point here?

When Brown brought back Mandelson everyone said what a good stroke. But in fact Mandelson has done little for Browns poll ratings, has done little for the economy, has done little for Browns standing in the labour party and has made Clarke's return less unsurprising and less spectacular than it would have otherwise.

As ever - what Brown thinks of as clever is in fact counter productive. The man is a pillock and if Clarke can help expose that and save our nation then I am all in favour.

And in government Clarke will not be in the BERR, that will - certainly should - be abolished, along with DEFRA, no he will be in charge of cutting government waste spending and slashing the Whitehall machine (well he would if I were in charge).

Bernie Gudgeon said...

O ye of little faith.

neil craig said...

Good thing too - it is vital the Conservatives prove that the economy rather than Green Ludditism if they want the trust & respect of the public.

I must admit I cannot find one word he has said on global warming, which is a considerable improvement over most of the rest of the cabinet. I find it difficult to imagine him as a hairshirt puritan & suspect that the fault line between those who really want a growing economy & those who put the War on Fire first will be a more important one than over the EU.