Clarke returns to the front bench

THE BBC website doesn’t appear to have it yet, but Iain Dale does: Ken Clarke is returning to the Shadow Cabinet as Shadow Business Secretary.

This is a very clever move by Cameron; KC is undoubtedly the biggest of the Big Beasts. He’s still (I assume) popular among the electorate and has that priceless quality for a politician: he comes across as an ordinary bloke. He speaks Human and doesn’t sound – has never sounded – like a political “Speak Your Weight” machine.

And try as I might, I can’t actually come up with a plausible reason for criticism. Damn, hate it when that happens.

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17 Comments

Filed under Conservative Party, David Cameron, Politics

17 responses to “Clarke returns to the front bench

  1. John

    “I can’t actually come up with a plausible reason for criticism.”

    Since when has that stopped you?

  2. Disgraceful. Where’s your partisanship?

  3. It’ll be nice to have one genuine Europe-enthusiast on a front bench. And he’s done wonders for my BAT shares….

  4. Feel the same. Ken Clarke is a legend. It’s a total pain when the other lot have good people, too.

    But there is some potential schadenfreude for us.

    Look how he’s going to show up the rest of the lightweights on the Conservative front bench.

    I mean, George Osborne? Couldn’t run a bath….

  5. Rapunzel

    He might come across as “Hail Fellow! Well met!” now, as he hops off to foreign climes to watch birds, puffs his cigars, or talks about jazz on the radio, but there are many who remember him from his days at Health, Education and the Treasury who do not remember him with affection. I believe he was also a junior transport minister!

    Even committed Tories are not all convinced that he should be returning, as evidenced by comments on conservativehome.

    But you’re right. It is a clever move. He and Mandelson have both their ups and downs. I wonder which of them will fall first this time?

    Or which of them is the more personally ambitious?

  6. Auntie Flo'

    “try as I might, I can’t actually come up with a plausible reason for criticism”

    How about: Auntie Flo’ can’t bear him because he’s pro EU?

  7. “I’m reliably informed that the recent vocal campaign to have Ken Clarke reinstated to the Shadow Cabinet is but a feint, a ruse to disguise the true intent of KC’s apparent supporters: to bring back David Davis.”

    Were you joking or should you shoot your informant, Deep Scrote?

    I like any MP who is old enough and rich enough to tell you to “go away”. You won’t need to examine Ken’s Ikea receipts because he doesn’t give a fart what you think and he probably doesn’t have a lot of time for Cameron either.

    It’s a desperate move by Cameron, given Ken’s Europhile credentials, but we are, are we not, in the realm of bringing back the heavy hitters for the final innings? Armageddon awaits, along, it appears, with Mandelson and Clarke being the WMD’s.

  8. Rbrto

    Poor grassroots on conHom seeming to be having a right old slagging off match about this. I like Ken, maybe his views are unpopular with one half of his party but his contribution on the economy will be a bonus during these pressing times as frankly having an independent and competent guy contributing at the top of the agenda can only be good for the narrative in finding ways to survive and then recover from the recession.

  9. richard

    I’ve never forgiven him for getting up on a stage with Blair for the launch of “Britain in Europe”, an orginisation whose sole purpose for existing seems to have been to allow Labour to score points against the Conservatives.

  10. parburypolitica

    Ken Clarke won thatcherite of the year 1985 and was just as signed up to the disasterous administrations from 1979 to 1997 as anyone. Also even conservativehome has his unfavourable ratings at 41% amongst tory members. Even Norman Tebbitt thinks he’s lazy and has spent the last few years selling cancer sticks to kids in the third world What do you mean “I can’t actually come up with a plausible reason for criticism”

  11. Johnny Norfolk

    Tories take a 13 point lead. Expect that to increase now Ken is back. I do not agree with him about Europe, but hey It will be good to have some common sence again.
    It took Brown 10 yeras to spend what Ken had put in the pot and people will remember that..

  12. Hopefully his own business dealings will come under scrutiny in this role.

  13. labourboy

    Anyone else think the Tories are spinning a bit over the role Osbourne has played in him coming back?

    I can’t believe that Osbourne suggested it in the first place and then broached the idea first with Clarke.

    It would have come out by now, surely? Sounds more like spinning from the Tories to try emphasise that Osbourne hasn’t been sidelined due to his woeful performance of late.

  14. Paul Williams

    This is a gamble by Cameron, in terms of keeping the Conservative party united, but Clarke is popular with the electorate and will put over the complex economic arguments well. Something the Tories have struggled with recently.

    There is a number of interesting comments on the Conhome site, that indicate that this is less to do with shadowing Mandelson and more to do with challenging Brown.

    Clarke gave Brown a golden economic legacy which has now been ruined and for this reason I think Brown is vulnerable with the return of Clarke and Labour will be worried. The tone of Tom’s post seems to indicate this.

    Many in the Tory party don’t agree with Clarke’s views on the EU, but I suspect he will toe the party line mainly because he is more than likely to be slightly…er…annoyed that Brown has taken all the credit for the boom years. Clarke will keep quiet regarding his views on the EU for the greater good of personal vanity of promoting his own Chancellorship, and destroying Brown’s.

    Wait for the first sign of Lord Mischievous trying to promote an EU ‘split’ in Tory ranks in the hope this will turn off voters. But this cuts both ways, if Labour thinks the EU turns off voters then so will the sight of Labour using it to score cheap political points, especially at a time when ghastly economic news will be coming in on a daily basis

    It’s the economy that will be the big political talking point of this year, and Clarke’s return is a good thing for the Tories for getting their economic message across.

  15. Oberon Houston

    parburypolitica – the majority of conhome members surveyed wanted Ken back. Conhome is biased by UKIPPERS etc. to the right, so a 41-51% vote for Ken to return means that a vast majority of grassroots members like and want Ken back on the front bench.

    On Kens record, his two main achievements were 1. the setting up of the NHS internal market, which Krank Dobson scrapped just as it was working. 12 years later we still haven’t achieved that level of NHS performance despite all the billions and the belatedly ‘Patient Choice’ policy, which is the same as the internal market. 2. Reviving the British economy after a recession – a skill we need now. Brown will be very worried about Kens return, as his house of cards of economic stewardship was built on Kens achievements as Chancellor.

  16. KC makes his money from flogging cigarettes in developing countries. If that’s not a reason for criticism, I don’t know what is.

  17. John, a word in your shell-like:

    Tobacco is a legal commodity. The Treasury makes billions from it. In fact, one Tony Blair so loves the stuff he granted Bernie Ecclestone a temporary exemption from the ban on advertising, around the time Bernie gave £1 million to the Labour Party.

    Now please, stop being silly.

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