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I would be delighted to see Ken Clarke in the next Conservative government. I don't agree with him on Europe, and few of the party membership actually do.
But he would still be invaluable, as he is one of the very few people left in the Parliamentary party that has any experience from high office.

I would like to see him as Chancellor of the Exchequer.


I would echo the comments by Buckinghamshire Tory above - Ken would be a valuable asset to our front bench, but not if it means a more pro-europe stance. The Europe debate is too important and should be decided by the electorate not a select group of alledged representatives. There are few cases where the cost of a referendum can be justified but this is one and as such should not be allowed to divide the party. Parties of all sides should learn to be honest, open and listen to public opinion - the view the we should integrate further with Europe because a few politicians say so is unacceptible.

There's no evidence that Cameron intends to be Eurosceptic in any meaningful sense so there is nothing for Ken Clarke to dilute. We might as well have him for his experience. Hopefully instead of Osbourne.

DCMX, Yes, the fact that the Conservatives are failing to make any economic headway in a once in a centaury economic melt down against Brown, one of the architects of it, suggests there is a desperate need to have a clear out of the Shadow Treasury office, and even though I can't abide Ken Clarke's EU fanaticism, he is the obvious choice to have a Shadow Chancellor, having construct the economic revival that Brown has trashed, which would trump any 'experience' card Brown could play.

George Osborne is a boy doing a man's job.

We need a grown up in that post. Clarke would be perfect. Hague would be ok. Rifkind would be reassuring.

Grow up people. It is because of Osborne's performance a year ago at Conference that we face a weakened government into its twilight years, rather than a government with a decent majority and its own mandate.

Julian Glover argues in the Grauniad that Labour's bounce in the downturn can be explained by the return of the poorest to the Labour fold. They may believe that the Tories can manage the economy better (how could they have managed it worse?), but they expect a Labour government to do more to look after the poorest in the dark days of a downturn. A clear commitment to reduce tax on the poor by increasing the personal allowance would help mitigate this trend, would increase employment levels and reduce welfare costs.

David Cameron in his closing conference speech made a case for change - novice versus veteran - so he will need to craft compelling reasons in order to avoid vitriolic howls of inconsistency if he were to contemplate reinstatement of the 'big beasts'.

My suggestion would be measured response to the situation rather than a matching action merely to mirror what Labour is doing. In that regard, Westminster Wolf could be right to propose repositioning Kenneth Clarke in Treasury, but that would have to be executed deftly without such a move looking like a recapitulation on the choice of George Osborne.

However, I find it difficult to imagine that despite Kenneth Clarke's undoubted ability to inflict severe wounds on Labour David Cameron would simultaneously accommodate George Osborne and Kenneth Clarke.

That scenario would be most interesting indeed!

Politicians of successive post war governments have led us to the point we are now at. Give me someone new, modern and fresh, please. Pull away from EU federalism, increase punishment of criminals together with rehabilitation for those capable of benefiting and ditch the failures of the past whilst retaining the little good. Stop borrowing and growing economies. Shrink and save is the way to go. Always was and always will be.

Clarke has repeatedly claimed that there is/was no EU intention to form a single European superstate. However, the evidence that this is the prime intention, that it is already happening, and that the process is continuing apace, despite the opposition of three referendums is overwhelming.
Indeed, many senior EU politicians openly boast that the process of ever closer integration and ever greater "harmonisation" is now unstoppable.

If Clarke still persists in denying that this is both the intention and the reality of the EU, then he is either extremely stupid (which he is not) or deeply dishonest. In the latter case he might well be a match for Mandelson, save for the fact that where the EU (and therefore the real rulers of Britain) is concerned, they are both on the same side.

The argument in favour of bringing back Clarke is essentially that he is a Big Gun, whose name is well known to the public. However, he was never an outstanding politician, merely a competent, but not brilliant Chancellor, and not very successful when in the Education post.

The idea of trying to bolster up the oposition front bench by bringing back yesterday's men is a dangerous gamble. It might raise public confidence, but equally it might be taken as an admission of the inexperience of the existing team.

John Redwood has been contributing to the discussion of topical issues on an almost daily basis via his blog, particularly on the current economic crisis, in an easy to understand style where it is difficult to fault his logic and common sense. Ken Clarke has not been making any comparable contribution. There may be a case for bringing both back, but John Redwood's obvious hunger to lay into Darling and/or Mandelson would make him an ideal shadow to either. Ken Clarke might look upon shadow Leader of the House as beneath him, but as a genuine QC he could easily make a first class Lord Chancellor.

If you look at the polls - YouGov and ICM - you find that Conservative fair weather support is greatly weakened They emphasise the fact that, politically, the net beneficiary of the economic crisis has been Gordon Brown personally. The Labour party has crept back a little but not as much as its leader! The party has totally failed to pin the blame for the economic crisis where it belongs - on Gordon Brown personally. The DEs and the elderly are frightened and returning to the shelter of the 'known'

This is more of a commentary on psychology than politics! How did that saying go? -- Something like “In a crisis keep a hold on nurse, for fear of getting something worse?”

Since Brown is spurning any cooperation I want more of the Rottweiler from Cameron from now on. After all you won't expectLabour's pit-bull terrier returned from his post in Brussels to be polite to his opponents.

(btw I thought the media coordination on the reshuffle by Labour was brilliant - if dishonest Is Campbell back on board? !)

A correspondent in yesterday's Telegraph quoted Churchill with reference to the decisions that have now been made in America: "The Americans can always be counted upon to do the right thing, after they've exhausted every other possibility".

I was going to quote that with reference to the length of time that it has taken Gordon Brown to start getting his act together and to start focusing on our economic woes but, in light of this thread, perhaps it should also apply to the conservatives.

Is it not time to look at the jobs that need to be done by government and then look at the MPs that we have available and select the very best ones for the job?

I know that George Osborne saved our bacon at conference a year ago and that he is a powerful member of the team. However, in light of current events, to refer now to raising IHT to £1M is quite frankly insensitive.

We need the best person as Chancellor, not only to formulate an all-round economic policy, based on future needs and equity, but also to present it convincingly to the media and in parliament.

Would Ken Clarke agree to serve once again?

I do not begin to comprehend this apparent desire to bring back to the Shadow (or hopefully soon real) Cabinet an elderly, rather lazy MP who hasn't been in Government for 11 years.

Redwood has put his heart and soul into Opposition work, Clarke just acts like a harrumphing old Colonel Bufton Tufton with an overweening ego.

I disagree with Buckinghamshire Tory - I do not think it would be a good idea if Kenneth Clarke was brought back into office.

From the female point of view, I believe that quite a few older women like him - a friend of mine shortly to be ninety, thinks he is the 'bee's knees'. Presumably this because they like a minister who is paternalistic and 'knows what he knows'.

I don't agree with Mr. Clarke's position with regard to Europe, in fact I would go further and say that he seems to have an idee fixee about Europe - that despite the evidence of the EU's ever growing intrusiveness into individual countries way of life, and other anomalous aspects - he still says that the EU is fine and that is that.

I would rather see John Redwood brought back, and Malcolm Rifkind.

If I had the time and energy I would echo sjm 100 times over.
Clarke is very lazy and has an appalling attendance record in the Commons. Redwood is a devout Parliamentarian and a hard worker as well as have a really logical brain. I do not suggest the post of Shadow Chancellor as Osborne does that quite well enough but there are several makeweights on the front bench that might like to relax on the back benches. Perhaps shadow to the new Ministry of Propaganda [Communications].
As for Lilley, Dorrell and Gummer, a resounding No!
Move Liam Fox to Health and bring back Patrick Mercer for Defence.

Redwood - Nooooooo!!!!!!! Rifkind - Yes, Yes, Yes!

Ken Clarke is a classic case of style over substance.
As has been pointed out, his silence has been deafening. John Redwood, despite all the sneers, has put in serious thought and effort.
Ken Clarke appears to be a bluff, no-nonsense John Bull - something the Grauniad and the Beeb would normally abhor; so why do they treat him so differently? Oh yes, silly me, he happily supports EU treaties, designed to trash this country's independence, without bothering to read them.
If it shuts up the shrivelling band of EU supporters, stick a full bottomed wig on our Ken, plonk him on the woolsack (or has Brown flogged that as well to pay for his client state?) and let him play in the House of Lords.

Bringing either Redwood or Clarke back now would seem a mere reaction to Brown's actions- and as such could paint Brown as some kind of strategic mastermind. Redwood especially frightens electoral horses, and bringing either back would give some resonance to labour claims that the tories have not really changed. I very much doubt that bringing either back would appeal to voters other than grassroots tories. That said, if they come back, I reckon they should only do so after the election.

To my mind, as someone has posted over at politicalbetting, the tories should keep their heads down on much the same footing as now, while labour have their 'Gordon and Mandy've got experience' bubble. The election will be fought in different circumsances to now, when experience will be less of a perceived benefit.

"The party has totally failed to pin the blame for the economic crisis where it belongs - on Gordon Brown personally."

That is the failure of the Shadow Treasury team for it is allowing Gordon Brown to play the experience card. If Osborne & Co had rubbish Brown's legacy then Brown wouldn't be able to do this.

The Conservatives have got to link this economic crisis right to the door of Brown's No11, and right now they aren't doing it.

I hadn't realised it until some figure were shown the other day (not by the Shadow Treasury team ) that a decade ago we didn't need to access the world capital markets to fund our borrowing requirements, for our savings were sufficient. In the decade Gordon Brown has been in charge, a borrowing need we didn't have has become a £600 billion borrowing deficit on the international capital markets. It is this that has made our banks and financial institutions exposed to the credit crunch.

In the decade of Gordon Brown he trashed pensions, savings, and investments (the FTSE is at the same level it was a decade ago), leaving property speculation the only investment around. The property bubble Gordon Brown presided over gave people a false sense of wealth, which led to a debt fuelled consumer binge ( we racked up an £80 billion trade deficit, the container ship that got stranded off the Devon coast lost its cargo of consumer goods heading to us, it wasn't machine tools it carried to help us produce goods and pay our way) To keep this debt fuelled economy bubbling our banks and financial institutions had to access world capital markets, leaving us exposed to the credit crunch.

It is this type of narrative the Shadow Treasury team need to make, and consistently make, but aren't, instead at best we get a small fragment of the picture, but they never really nail it on Gordon Brown's door.

The Conservative party desperately needs someone to do that, because if they don’t, then people will look to ‘experienced’ Gordon Brown to get them out of the economic mess he put us in, and the Conservatives will have to resign themselves to play a bit role, and tagging along playing the consensus politics role!

No one has commented that the Liberal Democrats are 0.4% lower in your poll of polls than on 18/12/07 the day Clegg was elected.

Now is not the time to start mimicking a discredited Prime Minister of a failed government. Brown turning to the likes Mandhelson and supposedly Draper and Campbell as well behind the scenes (a veritable political satanic trinity if ever there was one)only indicates his desperation to cling to power. It will bite Brown hard soon enough.

DC needs to stay firm and on course and make the changes he intended to make and fill the new Energy post. It's Brown who is behind and needs to catch up. There is no need for Cameron to indulge in knee-jerk responses just because Brown does something unexpected.

James H, I don't think there would be much to be gained by bringing any of these figures back before an election. Figures like john Redwood would indeed scare the horses, and even those appiontments with less public cringe factor (undeserved)would hand Labour the ability to plausably link the current tories to the conservatives of the 1990s.

I think that bringing back to high profile roles still popular and well respected figures, at least with the press and constituents of the population outside the conservative party, such as Ken Clarke and Malcolm Rifkind, would be a good way of giving an air of seriousness and competence to a new conservative government. This would make it much easier to push through the surely unpopular measures that will be needed to rebalance the budget without losing all the political capital required to push through the education reform, reforming the welfare state and tackling the green agenda. Other more polarising figures could be brought in to fill imprtant but less visile departments.

You're way ahead in the polls and want to bring back John Redwood at a time when the anti-regulation fundamentalism he's long espoused has been discredited for ever?
Never let it be said that the Tory party has lost its death wish!
I was toying with the idea that it might be an idea to have another dose of Tory government to rein in the monster that is today's public sector - until I heard Cameron's speech.
Along with millions of other people, I may well lose my job soon.
There was nothing in there which reassured me that the poor and unemployed have nothing to fear from a Conservative government - quite the reverse.
And soon there are going to be a lot more poor and unemployed voters.
When will you Tories learn to live with the times in which you find yourselves?

PS. If you want a winning formula, cut taxes for those on low incomes and improve unemployment provision for those with mortgages etc. Pay for this by cutting back the state in other sectors, and increasing taxes on the well-paid. They may soon need a better safety net too!

To floating voter@13:39

We're not anti-regulation, we're pro effective regulation and supervision. There has been too little of this in the last ten years.
We don't want people to have to live with the bad times. We don't want to aquiesce in a massive expansion of the state paid for on the government's credit card. Every citizen will suffer, especially those who need support. At 1 o'clock I transferred my admitedly meagre savings to a safer bank. I didn't want to do this. I feel like a coward and the state will get less tax revenue. I'm terrified the government's short term measures will endanger everybody. Now I feel I've slightly given in to the feedback loop of a downturn.
When we Conservatives admit to ourselves that many people are trapped between some greedy and incompetent bankers and some greedy and incompetent bureaucrats we feel profoundly depressed. If you believe in freedom from the state and freedom to prosper you can't feel anything else.
Tim Montgomerie (editor of this website) has mentioned the Conservative publication 'Reconstruction, Renewal, Repair' (The internet download is here:
http://www.conservatives.com/~/media/Files/Downloadable%20Files/Reconstruction_Renewal_Repair.ashx?dl=true )

I hope you can get a copy of it. It is full of policies that not only reassure, they inspire.
I make one proviso, there is always something to fear from government. The actions of the most benign governments can have unintended consequences. The Conservatives of today always hold that in their minds. Labour do not.

Pity that most are sidetracked into the dumbed down game of personalities while the polls are showing a real shift of its core vote back to Labour

However I suppose I must join the futile game too!

SO ---Sally Roberts @ 1225

Redwood - Yes, Yes, Yes! Rifkind Nooooooo!!!!!!!

Redwood has worked his guts out for the party with little thanks and he's a patriot through and through

Rifkin is a carpet-bagging careerist and a thundering eurtophile to boot. Why doesn't he fight his Scottish seat instead of emigrating to a safe seat in England

Sir Malcolm Rifkind is already MP for Kensington & Chelsea, and has not represented a Scottish seat for 11 years.

From what the polls have been telling us over the past three weeks, it appears that the more publicity you get, the higher your poll rating! David Cameron must hammer home his message again and again.

Redwood would certainly be an asset, but he suffers from three flaws fatal to success in the new political class; he is honest,able and outspoken.

Kenneth Clarke has consistently worked toward the undermining of the British State and was instrumental in the overthrow of the leader who sought to defend it. He has frequently broken ranks to campaign with opposition leaders on Europe. He is no Conservative and no patriot. Why would anyone who opposes European integration and values their country's independence advocate putting this man in charge of the Treasury?

"Rifkin is a carpet-bagging careerist and a thundering eurtophile to boot. Why doesn't he fight his Scottish seat instead of emigrating to a safe seat in England"

I see someone has beaten me to it and pointed out the mistake here! Oh Christina, Christina, you are losing your touch! Don't you realise that Sir Malcolm represents a seat not very far at all from your neck of the woods?

The Tory Party continue to be rolled over by the BBC. Can anything be done about it?

"The Tory Party continue to be rolled over by the BBC. Can anything be done about it?"

I agree! Cue Jeremy Hunt?

Sorry guys, John Redwood is not a big beast to Joe Public. He's a mixture of laughing stock and Thatcherite nasty. Sorry.

No to Clarke. Why ? DC has yet to formulate his policies on Europe yet it is just 8 months to Euro campaigns starting. If Clarke is in the shadow cabinet he will constantly be forcing DC towards status quo Euro policies. The Tories have come up with some radical stuff in domestic policies (Labour even pinched some of it). The Tories need to come out with some radical Euro policies. How can DC do that with Clarke in cabinet. If DC comes up with some radical Euro policies and Clarke is screaming against them from the back benches it just gives DC some free publicity. Many people will think 'Cameron's EU proposals must be good Ken Clarke doesn't like them'. If he is in shadow cabinet threatening to resign etc then the media will turn it into yet another 'split', 'Tory b*lls up' etc. No Clarke but I have no problem with Rifkind, Redwood.

ivan I really wish you'd change your name!

As he does so frequently, Iain at 12.51 has something very useful to contribute:

"The Conservatives have got to link this economic crisis right to the door of Brown's No11, and right now they aren't doing it".

Maybe CCHQ has already prepared a thorough briefing paper with all the facts and figures checked for accuracy. If not, it would be very helpful for us to do so.

Relying purely on memory, I would say that the story starts 16 years ago when we left the ERM. The day was dubbed Black Wednesday but in light of the c15 years of continuous growth, it should have been called Golden Wednesday.

The paper should set out what Ken Clarke passed on to Brown.

It should, IMO, then state that, from that point on, the economy consisted of two layers (i) global infuences - which have been greatly beneficial until 12 months ago -and (ii) domestic stewardship.

Brown was happy to to accept the benefits arising from the global economy but, now that this has gone sour, does not recognise any of the huge problems that have arisen directly from his stewardship of the domestic economy.

We should remind him - and the electorate - in a carefull researched paper.

Sally Roberts at 16:30. Of course I know that Rifkin chickened out from rewinning his Edinburgh seat - it would have needed guts and hard-work. Instead of doing that he proved a quitter and and a carpet bagger to boot coming down here and slightly dodgily getting one of the safest seats in England.

If he was any good he'd have stayed and fought in Scotland.
Bit most of all thanks David Belchamber at getting to the heart of these two polls anmd dealing with something important. For if we sall cannot pin this economic disaster squarely on Brown we deserve to lose. we certainly wouldn't WIN in our own right for any win would really be a Labour loss.

"Rifkin is a carpet-bagging careerist and a thundering eurtophile to boot. Why doesn't he fight his Scottish seat instead of emigrating to a safe seat in England"

Christina the way you worded this, it would seem that you thought he STILL represented a Scottish seat - I am glad that you do in fact realise he doesn't!

By the way, it's Rifkind - not "Rifkin"!

By the way, Christina - I loved your description of Sir Malcolm as a "Thundering Europhile"! It would make a wonderful swear-word, wouldn't it - "Thundering Europhiles"! Sounds rather like the character in the Tin Tin books who used to exclaim "Thundering Typhoons"!! ;-)

The suggestion that, merely because he was made a "political silk" ( 'Courtesy' QC) Clarke would make a suitable Lord Chancellor, would merely damage the status and respect for our legal system even more than Derry Irvine succeeded in doing.

Not, of course, that this would worry Clarke, since he would support the establishment of a standardised legal system (based upon the continental models) throughout the EU.

If there was anything which typified the reasons why the old Conservative party came to be distrusted, it was the earnest but condescending and "we know best" attitudes adopted by Rifkind and his clique, which was a mile from the likes of Redwood.

Don't agree with Ken Clarke on Europe but who better to have back re the economy in some key role. I reckon our polling would go up overnight. Redwood is a really great brain but as some people suggest he could have the reverse effect.

In the eyes of the voting public these are all damaged goods associated with failure.

Just look at the stuff thrown at Labour over Mandelson.

Many of these chose to operate in ways that damaged their (and our) image or associated themselves with the failings of the Major regime.

Michael Howard is the exception but he is standing down so it is a waste of a shadow slot including him.

We have to move on.

"Of course I know that Rifkin chickened out from rewinning his Edinburgh seat - it would have needed guts and hard-work. Instead of doing that he proved a quitter and and a carpet bagger to boot coming down here and slightly dodgily getting one of the safest seats in England."

But Sir Malcolm did re-stand for Edinburgh Pentlands in 2001, losing only narrowly. Conveniently for Labour, by 2005 the seat was abolished in boundary changes.

Clarke, NO! - due to his divisive Europhile views, and as someone has pointed out, the difficulty that would produce for DC in fighting the Euro-elections and producing a robust policy on the EU to reassert our national sovereignty. The BBC would love Clarke to be in the Shadow Cabinet because 1) his views are in line with theirs on the EU and 2) it would give them the endless hope and opportunity to speculate on Tory splits.

Anyhow, wouldn't reintroducing the minsters from the Major era be considered to be copying Labour’s tactics of re-introducing their own examples (Mandelson etc) from the past, taking the lead from them, and undermine DC’s message at the conference that change is necessary when the direction has been wrong? Especially as the above poll suggests the Conservatives (i.e. presumably with the present Shadow Cabinet Team) are more trusted than Labour (34% to 27%) to get us out of the financial crisis ?

Votedave - If Rifkind came so near in his subsequently abolished seat he should have stood in one of the new seats instead of cowardly qutiting for safe English pastures.

Votedave - If Rifkind came so near in his subsequently abolished seat he should have stood in one of the new seats instead of cowardly qutting for safe English pastures.

I read the bile from Sally Roberts & Christina Speight about Malcolm Rifkind being a "Carpet Bagger". I thought this was the UK we lived in, and members of the party were allowed to apply for ANY seat in the UK. On the basis of their point of view, you'd better send back Liam Fox, Michael Ancrum, Ben Wallace and David McLean. I dispair at some people in this party.

Rifkind did indeed stay in Scotland to fight Pentlands in 2001, when he could easily have come down south and found a seat. Save your ire for those MPs who left their constituencies in the lurch in 1997 and moved onto pastures new while still sitting MPs for other constituencies.

"Rifkind is a carpet-bagging careerist and a thundering europhile to boot. Why doesn't he fight his Scottish seat instead of emigrating to a safe seat in England"

I think in 2010 the electorate will have had their fill of has-been Scottish politicians.

@Tory Scot

You know this is a frank lie. On seat selection - as in so much else - we haven't been a UK for years now.

No Englishman or Welshman has a hope in Hell of being accepted for the Scottish Candidates list, let alone a seat in Scotland.

Send them all back. Sauce for the goose...

PS Its despero, from the Latin.

I have been a lonely Jeremiah preaching that it was not good enough just to allow the government to impload without offering an alternative to the voters that would make them actively pro-Conservative rather than merely anti-Labour.

Nice to find that the British public agree and that all the clever people at CCHQ were not merely fools but foolish.

The past is another country. Leave yesterday's men there.

" I read the bile from Sally Roberts & Christina Speight about Malcolm Rifkind being a "Carpet Bagger"."

Get your facts right, Tory Scot - I was DEFENDING Sir Malcolm!!

If the incumbent government inherited a £60bn surplus from the Conservatives, and has managed to change it to a £600bn deficit, its leader Brown should be identified as being our greatest problem and told to go. and go NOW ! Any other call from our so called opposition should automatically render it unfit for government.
His current weak and weasly stance of "supporting the incumbent government through these difficult times" is both disgusting and utterly incomprehensible and for his comments to this effect Cameron should be un-ceremonially ditched.

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