Kenneth Clarke: Wikis


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The Right Honourable
 Kenneth Clarke

Assumed office 
19 January 2009
Leader David Cameron
Preceded by Alan Duncan

In office
27 May 1993 – 2 May 1997
Prime Minister John Major
Preceded by Norman Lamont
Succeeded by Gordon Brown

In office
10 April 1992 – 27 May 1993
Prime Minister John Major
Preceded by Kenneth Baker
Succeeded by Michael Howard

In office
2 November 1990 – 10 April 1992
Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher
John Major
Preceded by John MacGregor
Succeeded by John Patten

In office
25 July 1988 – 2 November 1990
Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher
Preceded by John Moore
Succeeded by William Waldegrave

In office
13 July 1987 – 25 July 1988
Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher
Preceded by Norman Tebbit
Succeeded by Tony Newton

Member of Parliament
for Rushcliffe
Assumed office 
18 June 1970
Preceded by Antony Gardner
Majority 12,974 (23.0%)

Born 2 July 1940 (1940-07-02) (age 69)
West Bridgford, Nottingham, England
Nationality British
Political party Conservative
Spouse(s) Gillian Edwards
Alma mater Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge
Religion Church of England

Kenneth Harry "Ken" Clarke QC MP (born 2 July 1940) is a British politician. He is the Conservative Member of Parliament for Rushcliffe and the Shadow Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills. Since 1997 he has been President of the Tory Reform Group.

He was in permanent ministerial employment throughout the 18 years of successive Conservative governments, from 1979 to 1997, serving in the Cabinets of both Margaret Thatcher and successively John Major. Since the Conservative defeat of the 1997 general election he had been a backbencher until his return to frontline politics in the Shadow Cabinet as Shadow Business Secretary in 2009. He has contested the Conservative Party leadership three times—in 1997, 2001 and 2005—being defeated at all attempts. Though considered popular with the general public, his defeats were attributed to his famously pro-European integration views which conflict with the Conservative Party's scepticism of the EU, demonstrated by his being President of the Conservative Europe Group and Vice-President of the European Movement UK[1]. Despite this, Conservative leader David Cameron appointed Clarke to the shadow cabinet in January 2009.


Early life

Born in West Bridgford, near Nottingham, England in 1940, Clarke was educated at Nottingham High School (then a direct grant grammar school) and went on to study law at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge where he graduated with a 2:1. He had joined the Conservatives while at university, where he was chairman of the Cambridge University Conservative Association. As a student, he controversially invited the former British fascist leader Sir Oswald Mosley to speak for a second year in succession, leading some Jewish students (including his future successor at the Home Office Michael Howard) to resign from CUCA in protest.[2] Clarke was defeated for the presidency of the Cambridge Union Society by Howard, although he was subsequently elected President of the Union a year later. In an early 1990s documentary journalist Michael Cockerell played Clarke tape recordings of himself speaking at the Cambridge Union as a young man; Clarke displayed amusement at the stereotypically upper class accent with which he spoke at the time. He was part of the Cambridge Mafia, a group of prominent Conservative politicians who were educated at Cambridge in the 1960s. On leaving Cambridge, Clarke was called to the Bar in 1963.

Member of Parliament

Clarke sought election to the House of Commons almost immediately after university. He cut his teeth by fighting the Labour stronghold of Mansfield in the 1964 and 1966 elections. In June 1970, at the age of 29, he gained the East Midlands constituency of Rushcliffe, south of Nottingham, from Labour MP Tony Gardner. Labour has never come close to winning the seat since, but Gardner's 1966 victory was partly due to the unpopular sitting Tory MP whom he defeated. Clarke has sat for Rushcliffe (on changed boundaries) ever since, making him by 2005 one of the longest serving of all MPs.

He was soon appointed a Government whip, from 1972 to 1974, where he helped ensure Edward Heath's government win key votes on entry to the European Economic Community with the assistance of Labour rebels. Even though he opposed the election of Margaret Thatcher as party leader in 1975, he was appointed as her industry spokesman from 1976 to 1979, and then occupied a wide range of ministerial positions during her premiership, from 1979 onwards. He was appointed a QC in 1980.

In the government

Clarke served as junior transport minister, and then as Minister of State for Health (1982–85). He joined the Cabinet as Paymaster-General and Employment Minister (1985-87) (his Secretary of State, Lord Young, was in the Lords), and served as Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister at the DTI (1987–88), with responsibility for the Inner Cities ("because," as one wag put it, "he looked like he lived in one").

He was appointed Health Secretary in 1988, introducing the controversial 'internal market' concept in the NHS,[3] before being appointed Education Secretary in the final weeks of Thatcher's government, in the reshuffle caused by Sir Geoffrey Howe's resignation (the job had been offered to Norman Tebbit, who declined to return to the Cabinet). He was famously the first Cabinet minister to advise Thatcher to resign after her inadequate first-round performance in the November 1990 leadership contest; she referred to him in her memoirs as a "candid friend". He supported Douglas Hurd in the next round.

Despite the victory of John Major in that contest, he came to work with Thatcher's successor very closely, and quickly emerged as a central figure in his government. After continuing as Education Secretary (1990-92), where he introduced a number of reforms, he was appointed as Home Secretary in the wake of the Conservatives' unexpected victory at the 1992 general election. In May 1993, seven months after the impact of 'Black Wednesday' had terminally damaged the credibility of Norman Lamont as Chancellor of the Exchequer, Major forced Lamont to resign from that office and appointed Clarke in his place.

Chancellor of Exchequer

At first Clarke was seen as the dominant figure in the Cabinet, and at the October 1993 Conference he "defended" Major from his critics by announcing "Any enemy of John Major is an enemy of mine" in a manner widely seen as overbearing. By the time of the John Redwood leadership challenge in June 1995 there were even rumours (always denied) that Major had offered the Chancellorship to Heseltine.

Clarke enjoyed an increasingly successful record as Chancellor, as the economy recovered from the recession of the early 1990s and a new monetary policy was put into effect after Black Wednesday. He was able to reduce the basic rate of Income Tax from 25 to 23%, as well as reduce the share of GDP consumed by government spending, and halve the budget deficit. Interest rates, inflation and unemployment all fell during his tenure at HM Treasury.[3]

Differences of opinion within the Cabinet on European policy, on which Clarke was one of the leading pro-Europeans, complicated his tenure as Chancellor. Whereas other ministers such as Malcolm Rifkind wished to imply that British euro membership was unlikely, Clarke fought successfully to maintain the possibility that Britain might join a European single currency under a Conservative government, but conceded that such a move could only take place on the basis of a referendum. When the 'Eurosceptic' Party Chairman, Brian Mawhinney, (allegedly) briefed against him, on one occasion, Clarke memorably declared: "Tell your kids to get their scooters off my lawn" - an allusion to Harold Wilson's rebuke of trade union leader Hugh Scanlon in the late 1960s.


After the Conservatives entered Opposition in 1997 and John Major resigned, Clarke contested the leadership of the party for the first time. In 1997, a vote exclusively among Members of Parliament, he topped the poll in the first and second rounds. In the third and final round he formed an alliance with Eurosceptic John Redwood, who would have become Shadow Chancellor and Clarke's deputy if Clarke had won the contest. However, Margaret Thatcher chose to endorse Clarke's leadership rival William Hague, who proceeded to win the election comfortably. The contest was criticised for not involving the rank-and-file members of the party, where surveys showed Clarke to be more popular. Clarke rejected the offer of a Shadow Cabinet role from Hague and became a backbencher.

He contested the leadership for the second time in 2001. Despite opinion polls showing he was the most popular Conservative politician with the public,[3] he lost in a final round among the rank-and-file membership, a new procedure introduced by Hague, to a much less experienced, but strongly Eurosceptic rival, Iain Duncan Smith. This loss, by a margin of 62% to 38%, was attributed to the former Chancellor's pro-European views being increasingly out of step with the dominant Euroscepticism of the party membership.[3]

Clarke opposed the 2003 invasion of Iraq. After choosing not to fight for the leadership after Duncan Smith departed in 2003, in the interests of party unity, he returned to fight the 2005 election. He again had large popularity among voters, with 40% of the public believing he would be the best leader.[4] However, he was accused by Norman Tebbit of being "lazy" whilst leadership rival Sir Malcolm Rifkind claimed that Clarke's pro-European views could have divided the Conservative Party if Clarke had won.[5] In the event, Clarke was eliminated in the first round of voting among MPs. Eventual winner David Cameron appointed Clarke to head a Democracy task force as part of his extensive 18-month policy review in December 2005, exploring issues such as the reform of the House of Lords and party funding. Clarke is president of the moderate, pro-European ginger group within the Conservative Party, Tory Reform Group.

In 2006, he called Cameron's plans for a British Bill of Rights, "xenophobic and legal nonsense".[6]

Promotion to the Shadow Cabinet

After many months of speculation by British newspapers and politicians in Westminster that Ken Clarke was to be offered a post in a reshuffled Shadow Cabinet reputedly to be the Shadow Chancellor's brief, it was confirmed by the BBC and the Conservative Party that Clarke would be promoted to the post of Shadow Business Secretary in opposition to the current Business Secretary, Lord Mandelson; as David Cameron described Clarke as the only one able to oppose the economic credibility of Mandelson and Brown. However, just two days later, it was revealed that Clarke had warned in a speech a month earlier that President Barack Obama could see David Cameron as a "right-wing nationalist" if the Conservatives maintained eurosceptic policies in government and that Obama will "start looking at whoever is in Germany or France if we start being isolationist."[7]

Corporate career

As a backbencher and now shadow cabinet minister, Clarke has taken a number of non-executive directorships and engaged in non-political media work, including serving as Deputy Chairman[8] of British American Tobacco (BAT) (1998-2007) and Deputy Chairman of Alliance Unichem, and has faced allegations over the activities of BAT in lobbying the developing world to reject stronger health warnings on cigarette packets and evidence that his corporation has been involved in smuggling.[9] He has presented several series of jazz programmes on BBC Radio Four, including one on his namesake, bebop drummer Kenny Clarke.

Clarke has been a Chairman (non-executive) of Unichem, a director of Foreign & Colonial Investment Trust and Deputy Chairman and director of British American Tobacco. Clarke has written a monthly column for Financial Mail on Sunday (£10,001-£15,000) and weekly commentary or interview for Bloomberg Television (£10,001-£15,000). Clarke has occasionally worked in journalism and lecturing, on a self-employed basis.[10] In June 2007 he was appointed to the Advisory Board of Centaurus Capital, a London based hedge fund management company.[11] Clarke is a member of the advisory board of Agcapita Farmland Investment Partnership,[12] a Canadian farmland investment fund.

Clarke is a Director (non-executive) of Independent News and Media (UK).[13]

He has attended the annual meeting of the Bilderberg Group in 1993,[14] 1998 and 2006-2008.[15][16][17][18]

Personal life

Clarke married Gillian Edwards, also a Cambridge graduate, in November 1964. They have two children—a son and a daughter.[3] He is well known for his enjoyment of cigars, jazz, motor racing and classic cars.[3] He also likes birdwatching and reading political history.

He also likes watching sport. He is a supporter of Nottingham Forest FC and is a former President of Nottinghamshire County Cricket Club and a keen follower of Formula One motorsport. As a director of the tobacco giant BAT he was involved with their Formula One team British American Racing and has attended Grands Prix in support of the BAR team. BAR was sold to Honda in 2005.

He attended the 1966 World Cup final and claims (with a little jest) to have been influential in persuading the man known vernacularly as "the Russian linesman" Tofik Bakhramov (who was actually from Azerbaijan), to award a goal to Geoff Hurst when the England striker had seen his shot hit the crossbar of opponents West Germany and bounce down, leaving doubt as to whether the ball had crossed the line. Clarke's position in the Wembley crowd was right behind the linesman at the time, and he shouted at the official to award a goal.[19] Clarke makes this claim in jest as Bakhramov understood no English at all (although the word "goal" is fairly international).

Clarke is a lover of Real Ale and has been a member of the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA).[20]


  1. ^ "Structure of the European Movement UK".  
  2. ^ "Howard's way". The Guardian.,9061,1446073,00.html. Retrieved 2008-09-24.  
  3. ^ a b c d e f "Contender: Kenneth Clarke". BBC. 2005-08-02. Retrieved 2008-09-24.  
  4. ^ "Clarke is voter favourite — poll". BBC. 2005-09-05. Retrieved 2008-09-24.  
  5. ^ "Tories round on candidate Clarke". BBC. 2005-09-04. Retrieved 2008-09-24.  
  6. ^ "UK | UK Politics | Clarke slams Cameron rights plan". BBC News. 2006-06-27. Retrieved 2009-10-19.  
  7. ^ "Ken Clarke warns Barack Obama could see David Cameron as right wing nationalist". Daily Telegraph. 2009-01-21. Retrieved 2009-01-23.  
  8. ^ [1]
  9. ^ Monbiot, George. "BAT role makes Clarke unfit for office". The Guardian.,,1554302,00.html. Retrieved 2009-01-19.  
  10. ^ "Register of Members' Interests".  
  11. ^ "Hedge fund Centaurus appoints Ken Clarke as adviser". Reuters. 2007-06-01. Retrieved 2008-09-24.  
  12. ^ "Agcapita Partners LP". Retrieved 2009-10-19.  
  13. ^ "Kenneth Clarke MP".  
  14. ^ "Memorandum submitted by the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards — Complaint against Mr Kenneth Clarke". United Kingdom Parliament. 11 July 1997. "Mr Clarke subsequently explained that he and Mr Blair considered that they were attending the conference as representatives of the Government and the Opposition respectively, and stated that `I was quite confident that I was at the time meeting the rules applying to Ministers, and it did not occur to me that the new rules concerning registration could apply to this visit'."  
  15. ^ "Register of Members' Interests". United Kingdom Parliament.  
  16. ^ "His secret's out: how Georgie met Kissinger". The Evening Standard (London). August 15, 2008. p. 14. "Ken Clarke, Peter Mandelson and former mandarin Lord Kerr were also among the select group of British figures at the gathering of politicians and tycoons."  
  17. ^ "Bilderberg: The ultimate conspiracy theory". BBC News. 2004-06-03. Retrieved 2008-09-24. "The group, which includes luminaries such as Henry Kissinger and former UK chancellor Kenneth Clarke, does not even have a website."  
  18. ^ "Kenneth Clarke:Full register of members' interests". The Guardian.,,-978,00.html. "5-8 June 2008, to Chantilly, Virginia, USA, to attend Bilderberg Conference. Hotel accommodation paid for by the conference sponsors. (I paid my travel costs.) (Registered 12 June 2008)"  
  19. ^ "quizballs quiz 55 - questions & answers". Quizballs. Retrieved 2008-09-24.  
  20. ^ "Campaign to include women in real ale round". The Guardian. 2002-08-06. Retrieved 2008-09-24.  

External links

Offices held

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Antony Gardner
Member of Parliament for Rushcliffe
Political offices
Preceded by
John Gummer
1985 – 1987
Succeeded by
Peter Brooke
Preceded by
Norman Tebbit
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster
1987 – 1988
Succeeded by
Tony Newton
Preceded by
John Moore
as Secretary of State for Social Services
Secretary of State for Health
1988 – 1990
Succeeded by
William Waldegrave
Preceded by
John MacGregor
Secretary of State for Education and Science
1990 – 1992
Succeeded by
John Patten
Preceded by
Kenneth Baker
Home Secretary
1992 – 1993
Succeeded by
Michael Howard
Preceded by
Norman Lamont
Chancellor of the Exchequer
1993 – 1997
Succeeded by
Gordon Brown
Preceded by
Alan Duncan
Shadow Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills

Simple English

File:Ken Clarke
Ken Clarke is the Justice Secretary of the United Kingdom.

Kenneth Harry 'Ken' Clarke (born July 2, 1940) is a British politician. He is the Justice Secretary in the current British government. Clarke has had a long career in politics and has served in the cabinets of Margaret Thatcher and John Major.


Early Life and Politics

Clarke was born in West Bridgeford in Nottinghamshire, England and was educated at the University of Cambridge. He became the Member of Parliament for Rushcliffe at the 1970 General Election and became a Queen's Counsel in 1980. He held a number of lower positions in government under Margaret Thatcher until she promoted him to Health Secretary in 1988. He became Education Secretary in 1990 and when Thatcher resigned as Prime Minister and was replaced with John Major he stayed on as Health Secretary until 1992 when he was promoted to Chancellor of the Exchequer. He stayed as Chancellor until 1997 when the Conservatives were defeated in the General Election.

In Opposition

John Major resigned as leader of the Conservative Party soon after he was defeated in the general election and Clarke stood for election to replace him as leader and therefore become the Leader of the Opposition. However he was defeated by William Hague in this contest. When Hague himself resigned after losing the 2001 General Election Clarke again stood for leader but was defeated by Iain Duncan Smith. In 2005 he stood for the leadership for a third time but was defeated by David Cameron. It is thought that Clarke was unable to become leader because many in the Conservative Party do not wish to see the United Kingdom replace the pound with the Euro as the main currency whereas Clarke has always been very much in favour of this policy [1].

As Shadow Business Secretary

Clarke returned to the Conservative front bench in 2009 as the Shadow Business Secretary where he has the job of monitoring the performance of the current Business Secretary Peter Mandelson. When the coalition government was formed on May 11, 2010 Clarke was made the Justice Secretary.

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