Ooohh Hell No!


… that was my reaction to news of Ken Clarkes return to the Tory front bench. Now before explaining my reasons as to why I am opposed to his return I want to make a few things clear: First I don’t deny Kens, often inexplicable, popularity with the public. Second I can just about understand Camerons desire to counter Gordon Brown’s Mandelson move by bringing Clarke back. And third I respect Clarke as an important member of the Tory party even though I profoundly disagree with him on almost every issue. But make no mistake of this: Cameron will rue the day he brought Ken Clarke back.

So why do I believe this is a disaster? Well for starters a large number of the Shadow Cabinet have already informed the Daily Telegraph that they are categorically opposed to his comeback which I feel could pose deep problems for cabinet unity in the coming months and years should the Tories win the election. Cabinet unity, or more importantly disunity, as we have seen before could be lethal for a leader.Furthermore I am perplexed as to why Cameron, who prides himself as being a moderniser, would bring back such an obvious relic of our past? He is a memory of by-gone days and not a good one at that. He is a reminder of the bitterness and division that still lingers within the party faithful, particularly on Europe.

Now the BBC is reporting that Cameron and Clarke have agreed to disagree on Europe. This utter tosh. They have agreed to disagree… for now . But what about when we are in power? Can Clarke really be trusted to tow the party line which is currently emphatically opposed to Britain joining the Euro… the same Euro he is a keen proponent of? Can he really be trusted to oppose the Lisbon treaty… the same treaty he has endorsed? Cameron has in one fell swoop exposed one of our most potent of wounds. A wound which had failed to fully heal but wasn’t a major threat to party unity given the partys current Eurosceptic line. This choice risks blowing the wound right open.

Similarly at a time of economic instability and insecurity do we really want someone like Ken around who is so linked with the failures of not just the Thatcher and Major governments but Heath too!?  Now I am not suggesting I believe the Thatcher, Major and Heath governments were economically incompetent, quite the opposite, what I am getting at is public opinion is not all that favourable in regard to certain elements of our economic record. Whether this criticism of our economic record is fair or not is another question, but the reality is public opinion isn’t so favourable and we have to come to terms with that. Bringing Clarke back does not aid us in this task.

Ultimately I feel his return flies in the face of Cameron’s change agenda and is tantamount to bringing in a ticking time bomb to Conservative HQ. Clarke may tow the line for now but will he in the future? And whilst he may be popular with the country he is certainly not with the party. There is a good reason we rejected him 3 times as leader you know! And to make matters worse a number of our most prominent party donors have vowed should Ken return they won’t give another penny to the party. Not wise in the run up to an election.

Therefore as much as I am loathed to admit it, Cameron has handed Gordon Brown a great gift by bringing ‘the beast’ back. The government will now do all they can to push Europe to the fore of the political and expose the deep divisions both within the cabinet and the party at large. They will also ridicule the change agenda and remind everyone of the ‘failures’ in Conservative party history with which Ken is assosciated. Will Cameron be able to keep his cabinet, his party and his country in line when it all starts to unravel? Hell no. Why doesn’t he just bring Thatcher back as Secretary of State for Local Communities?!?! That’ll really go down well…

Oh David.


17 thoughts on “Ooohh Hell No!

  1. Oh Daniel,

    I agree with your last few points that now the governement are now going to bring up reminders about the failures of the major and thatcher govts and europe – at least that I would do (I mite even e-mail gordon).

    However if I’m a big fan of Ken (in fact all Kens as a rule). Keep in mind your not bringing Norman Lamont back. Ken Clarke actully understands the economy and can comment off the cuff, unlike Osborne who apparently doesnt understand the economy (look forward to the wity baneterous responces about Gordon/Darling not understanding the economy) and can’t comment off the cuff comfortably (i.e. just repeats the party soundbite). I personally would have put him as Shadown Chancellor were he’ll get more air time and to stop the acusations thats its an Etonian clique (which it is – sorry, couldn’t resist) running the party.

    I think the resulting argument within the tories (or at least the top echelons), will be more about the first outsider out of the Notting Hill lot, comming into the cabinet. Not trying to cause an argument but its natural that someone outside of your close groups of advisors and friends comming into the fold would unease people – even outside of a political sense. Europe is going to be a brunt to bear, but it would be bad for the tories to get caught up in a civil war over Europe, bearing in mind it doesnt rank particularly high on the list of peoples concerns. Just don’t mention the euro!

    On a side not – Cameron has a change agenda? I must have missed that must be under that outline of Tory economic policy that Ive herd so much about :P


  2. “do we really want someone like Ken around who is so linked with the failures of not just the Thatcher and Major governments”

    That must be the first time I have ever heard you admit there was potentially an occasional failure in the Thatcher govt!!!!

  3. haha John, I take your comments with a pinch of salt being a labour supporter and all :P, but I do understand most of what you are getting at.

    Tom – Dont worry tom Ive thought about this long and hard because the rumours have been rife for weeks. So it wont come back to haunt me… Ive thught about my opposition and i feel it is legitimate.

    Jimmy – haha this is a common misconception lol. I am MORE than aware of the failures of the Thatcher governments but all things considered I have always believed that what she had to contend with and what she did was nothing short of remarkable. Of course she made mistakes as do all politicians (they are only human after all and some things are out of their control!) but overall she was the best weve had in a generation. We could do with someone of her like now.

  4. Dan – get your head out of the past (lol) … Contrary to what you say I think that Clarke’s Chancellorship is widely respected and he will do a great job of fighting Labour on this territory.

  5. PT – I agree with the first part of your statement, but the problem with the 2nd bit is that he won’t have the chance. Hes not fighting mandy in the commons as mandys a lord, plus business questions tends to get over shadowed by the Chancellor and apart from the odd news interview or Question Time appearance I cant see him getting a lot of chances to challenge the governemnt

  6. haha how is it being stuck in the past to want to focus on the future and be opposed to such a massive reminder of our past?!?! Also this news has not gone down well with a lot of grassroots members as far as I am aware. This allied with the points raised in the post regarding the Shadow Cabinets division does not bode well. This is a ticking time bomb. I think Clarke was a c ompetent chancellor, i dont deny this, but he is wrong for the time. He would be better on the back benches discrediting the government. He is an attack dog and we should have unleashed him on the back benches, thrown interviews his way etc. There was no need to bring him in to the Shadow Cabinet. He is too much of a loose cannon.

  7. Dan, you talk about the disunity over Europe, but John redwood wenjoys a palce in Cameron’s circle as does IDS who rebelled several times over Europe. Clarke’s behaviour has been very agreeable by comparison.

    I think the real mistake is not making him Chancellor. The rift between Clarke and Osborne could be very interesting; now the Tories have a big man in a small job and a little man in a big job

  8. John H – I think he’s there to fight Gordon Brown not Mandelson. Reminding the public at every turn of the golden inheritance he bequeathed in 1997 and how Brown has squandered it.

  9. I think i phrased my reply wrong.

    I meant I dont think he will get the required media time to argue his point. I dont think he will appear enough in the public eye for him to make an imprint , which from a tactical point of view is a shame as hes a realtivley popular guy.

    Also I agree with you that Brown squandering the golden inheritance. We spent it on frivolous things like golden ponies, schools and hospitals

  10. Oy ladies… we need to find a forum for you two to have it out with each other. This isn’t it lol. Although Im afraid Prague is right Jack: Brown is shocking. Hes like an addicted gambler going double or bust… only hes using OUR money to do it.

  11. On a semi related point. I was watching a progamme late last night, while trying do some work. It was “How to start your own country” with Danny Wallace, by chance when he wanted some advice he went to see Ken Clarke, and Clarke was explaining how Gvt debt works and why all countries have it.

    The programmes pretty good, I was thinking of declaring Selly Oak independent

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