The best and worst of Ken Clarke
Over on CentreRight Iain Murray pays proper tribute to yesterday's announcements by Ken Clarke (and John Penrose) on regulation. Iain writes: "Real regulatory reform will be as important to the country's economic revival as budgetary tightening. We mustn't ignore the supply side, and for that reason these reforms deserve as much publicity as George Osborne's announcements."
But if that is why David Cameron brought Ken Clarke back there was always the danger that he would fight against the natural Euroscepticism of 90%+ of Conservatives. When he joined the shadow cabinet Mr Clarke accepted existing Tory policy on Europe. He is not signed up to next steps on Tory policy. The chances are that he'll resist any attempts to adopt a robust line on Lisbon if it is ratified. At Comment is free, Michael Kettle suggests Clarke has a "lock" on Tory European policy:
"The evidence of the Manchester conference, as well as events in the wider world, is that Clarke increasingly has a lock on Tory policy. Cameron can't afford to do without him now. That was not always the case... Clarke has the satisfaction that his mere presence in the Cameron cabinet is a major deterrent to the Eurosceptics around Hague. If they attempt to force the issue on Europe too much, Clarke would fight them every inch of the way. Remember, Clarke is not a resigner. he fights his corner. "If I get into the cabinet they'll have trouble getting rid of me," he told Rawnsley. With events moving his way, Clarke is now too big a figure in Tory counsels to be overlooked. With Cameron determined to avoid his government collapsing into an argument over Europe, Clarke has more power over Tory European policy than he has had for years."
I hope Mr Kettle is wrong but my fear of 'a Clarke veto' was one of the reasons I opposed Clarke's return.