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???!!! Wasn't he only last week or so saying he wouldn't want to return to front bench politics?

i hope he is asked, i do like Osborne but ken has the experience and the authority to be listened to. At the moment i dont think the public are taking much notice of us.....

If that man gets anywhere near the front bench I will not be renewing my membership. I still remember the way he stood up in the house and argued for the Lisbon Treaty. The man is a traitor to the party. Some people on this site keep spouting their usual rubbish about people not caring about Europe - they are very wrong. Many will feel betrayed if a Europhile sits on the Conservative front bench. NO NO NO!

Do it, DC! Appoint him - you know it makes sense!!

Wait a minute. Clarke is talent and talent must be mobilised. Any funny business about Europe should be got out of the way in preliminary discussions, the rule being this: a free vote on the issue for all Tory MPs. Yes, if only Ken had taken this view back in the 90s, but we are not in this business in order to recriminate with each other, but to beat the left and save the country. If Ken Clarke can accept the neccesity of letting the party divide on this one issue, then he should be brought back as soon as possible. I've seen him in action against the poisonous Mandelson and he is brilliant - good humoured, relentless and effortlessly superior to the little bitch. Let's have him back.

"I still remember the way he stood up in the house and argued for the Lisbon Treaty. n this site"

I bet he never read it first.

I'm sure KC would love to be chancellor again, with the pound and euro now at parity, his life long ambition to take the UK into the Euro would be realised.

Dear Steve,

Have you given any thought as to the sense of betrayal that mMany Conservatives will similarly feel if the chances of our returning to power and bringing some sanity into British public life and government are diminished in any way by hysterical comments about people being traitors simply because of their view on the EU

I will feel betrayed by a Conservative such as yourself causing so much fuss as to allow back into power for another 5 years this socialist, incompetent, nasty, divisive govenment.

Should Ken Clarke be invited into the shadow cabinet it is to be welcomed as it will help to speed the end of one of the worst governments this country has ever had the misfortune to be run by!

It seems most of the contributors to this thread are pragmatic enough to accept Clarke...i suspect residual hostility is held over from the old 'euro wars' days but rejecting him on those grounds...

As an 'outsider' i'd say he would lend much needed authority to a party that doesn't have much of it at the moment on the economy...I don't think it will happen though. Cameron obviously feels a strong personal loyalty to Osbourne which seems to override pragmatic politics in this instance...

*rejecting him on those grounds is cutting off your nose to spite your face.

This is complete nonsense.

I keep hearing that Ken is a 'Big Beast' and that people would be happier with him as Shadow Chancellor. Well, I have not heard a single person, who is not part of the Westminster chattering classes, that even knows who Ken is let alone think it might make them vote for him.

I think we need to grow up and move on. Ken was a good Chancellor but his time has gone and for the party to even consider making a change because it might keep a few activists happy is just silly.

If a change needs to be made there are many other candidates who should be considered long before Ken - even IDS would be better although I am not sure he has an interest in economics. It would certainly give our Treasury team a different shape if its leader was focused on poverty fighting!!!!!

You fail to realise how many people will be turned away from the party if Ken starts to have influence. There are many who support the party because of its current EU policy. Clarke would only open old wounds. The words "Tory Split" would pour out of Brown's mouth every Wednesday at noon. You cannot have a Shadow Minister at odds with the leader (and the majority of the party) on such an important policy.

I agree with Steve.

It should also be remembered that Clarke has referred to David Cameron's policy to withdraw from the EPP as a policy of "headbangers".

He is not a man I would go anywhere close to at a General Election and his economic views are not for today. Conservatives care about democracy - he does not. Conservatives care about community - he does not.

In fact he has steadfastly opposed any mention of the word 'referendum', and he would undoubtedly split the party into two.

Over and above that, there should be a gathering of economic heads called by George Osborne......It is not a sign of limitation on his part to take in broad advice on matters relating to EVERY area of society........It simply proves he is able to listen. ( Unlike Kenneth Clarke ).

Those who avoid the question of Europe will also lose the General Election as Tories will desert. If you want that then it's best to say now so as not to try to deceive the electorate or natural supporters who will be disaffected by a failure to address the European question.

You fail to realise how many people will be turned away from the party if Ken starts to have influence. There are many who support the party because of its current EU policy. Clarke would only open old wounds. The words "Tory Split" would pour out of Brown's mouth every Wednesday at noon. You cannot have a Shadow Minister at odds with the leader (and the majority of the party) on such an important policy.

Posted by: Steve Green (Daily Referendum Blog). | December 20, 2008 at 12:33


I think Osborne has been doing better the last few days. He's doing his best to sound sensible and plausible instead of attacking Labour head-on.

Give John Redwood more voice. He has consistantly put forward sensible views and ideas on his blog. He has the experience and insight to be able to really take Brown and Darling to task on their mismanagement of the economy.

It is a sorry comment on the Tory party if they can find no one of sufficient gravitas and experience, who commands the respect of both the Parliamentary party and the grass roots voters, and are reduced to considering such a deeply divisive character as Clarke.

Leaving aside his strongly pro Eu stance, his defiance of the party line over the Lisbon Con/Treaty was a direct endorsement of Brown's total breach of faith over the promised referendum.

That, together with his repeated denials that the objective of the EU is the creation of a single EUropean state, shows an arrogance and contempt for the electorate which almost matches that displayed by Edward Heath.

In his previous incarnations as Secretary for Health and Secretary for Education his performance was second rate and, as Chancellor, he was merely competent but certainly not distinguished.

His appointment to the opposition front bench would therefore lend this gravitas more from perception than performance. Thus, whilst it might, possibly, result in a short term improvement in poll ratings, it would certainly mean a substantial loss of grass roots and possible swing votes in an election.

More to the point: George Osborne is doing a good job. Every time he makes a major speech everyone agrees how great he did, even the people who previously criticised him (check the comments on hear after his last speech). We all know that Dave and George are right about the economy - and a majority of the public are still willing to vote Conservative.

Some forget that it was Osborne's speech last year that helped to totally turn the polls around. Some forget that Labour have stolen many of his ideas. We are still ahead in the polls when the media seem to be giving Brown an easy time. Brown is all over the media at the moment doing his "I saved the world" bit. When people start to realise that it is all empty spin he will once again retreat to his bunker. We are ready for a media swing and Osborne is the man to take advantage of that - he will destroy Darling.

It should be mandaTORY for anyone who has the least doubt about George Osborne's ability, to be compelled to watch this !


In my life, I have NEVER heard a better political speech on the economy.

I think Kevin makes a point - are people advocating Clarke because they know he will make the polls improve, or is it just because he isn't Osborne and they HOPE the polls will improve?

My view is that there is no guarantee he will make things better and a fear that he will remind people of the image of the old, fat, sleazy Conservative Party Labour pushed to success in the 1990s. And he's hardly a working-class boy either.

Moreover, will Clarke behave himself? He cannot bring Europe up before or during the election in any way that is not party policy, but I doubt he could restrain himself in a position as important as the Shadow Chancellorship. He will doubtlessly want to lead the party and if they won't listen in private he will attempt to force them to back him or sack him in public.

If the Conservatives were behind in the polls, it might be an idea. But when they're still ahead it doesn't make sense to me to take such a risk and give him a plum job.

And. Labour trolls are desperate to get rid of Osborne - that should tell you all you need to know.

I don't know the kind of people Steve talks to, but right now most people struggling in the real world (i.e. those tens of thousands every week losing their job!) could care less about the European hoo-ha. Outside Tory gatherings it is a fairly minor issue at the best of times; now, with the economy FUBAR, it is nothing.


It doesn't matter if we are right about the economy, education, social justice, crime, health etc... If we are seen as split we will not win the next election. Labour are dragging us tooth and nail deeper into the EU. Next stop the Euro. European policy will have a major impact on the economy and the next election. Ask farmers, fishermen and small businesses what they think of the EU.

Whenever I've read one of Osborne's speeches or seem him in action on tv/youtube he's been straight-forward, informed and articulate. His stock can only rise and any thought of replacing him would be disastrous for the Party.

There is one thing David Cameron does need to ask Ken Clarke to do: from now on every time an interviewer asks him about this he must declare that this is categorically not on the agenda and that line of questioning should end there. Whatever happens would only ever happen behind closed doors, interviews like this only create trouble.

Unlike many writers here, I have worked with Ken Clarke - across the table! We argued and we got on within the role I and he had. I found him totally honourable and likeable. I will defend the man from the rather hysterical words above this!

I am a former member of Ukip as I am totally opposed to the EU in all its forms.

However, I accept that others who are equally in favour of it. I am quite happy with the Conservatives stance on the euro and on a referendum over the Lisbon treaty, and I so believe that Ken Clarke accepts that position. Although he has honestly articulated that he has always opposed referendums- he believeing that Parliament is elected to make decisions.

That said. IF he is willing to serve in a Shadow Cabinet Cameron should grab that opportunity He IS a big beast. He would tear Darling up for waste paper. and to hear the ageist comments I despair. Age is no barrier to experience and nous.

I would also look at inviting Malcolm Raffkind, John Redwood and Michael Howard back alongwith David Davis and especially Ian Duncan Smith. You need people that can, and will, take the fight to this rotten, evil and incompetent government.

Bring back KEN today!

Give Clarke the Business post and leave Osborne where he is.

"Give John Redwood more voice. He has consistently put forward sensible views and ideas on his blog. He has the experience and insight to be able to really take Brown and Darling to task on their mismanagement of the economy."

Nice try, John...

Posted by: strapworld | December 20, 2008 at 14:03

MP's are elected on a manifesto and are not elected to give away my sovereignty.

If they ignore their manifesto then they are liars and deceivers and if they give my sovereignty away they are not doing it in my name. I have a right ( as he does ) to express my wish to the people I elect to represent me and if it is different to that then it's time it was changed.

Whether or not Ken Clarke agrees with that, his judgment is no more important than the wider judgment of 20 million voters which government should be there to serve.

Incidentally, no one please try to tell me that politicians don't make mistakes or have flawed judgment, as I'll rattle off a list here as many others will no doubt of the total crass and breathtakingly stupid ignorant decisions many of them have made not least but not solely reserved to Labour's last 11 years in government.

Any thought of Ken Clark becoming Shadow Chancellor is bonkers!! The grass roots of the Tory Party are so intolerant of anyone with moderate opinions on Europe they would be in revolt over it.
The grass roots would rather have what they see as purity on Europe than a team capable of winning the election.

I do worry about some of these comments. Ken Clarke has always had differences with the main stream of the party on Europe and always will do! I happen to disagree with him on european issues but this doesn't mean he's any less of Tory than me, and it most certainly doesn't make him a traitor simply because he spoke out about something in which he believes against official party policy....this makes him a man of principle!!

The party needs serious economic heavyweights to smash Brown and Cable out of the water. I fear Osbourne his before his time in his ability to do this and we badly need Ken in one of the economic portfolios.

George Osborne makes some excellent speeches
and may be as bright as a button, but he slides off the radar too easily and lacks charisma.
Ken Clarke has star quality, knows what hes talking about and exudes confidence, and most importantly, transmits that confidence to his

Strapworld...agree with everything you've said!

Ken Clarke's voting record:


1 May 1997 to 14 May 2001, 5 votes out of 543, 0.9%

7 Jun 2001 to 11 Apr 2005, 26 votes out of 610 4.3%

5 May 2005 to date, 44 votes out of 497, 8.9%

Do you see a pattern emerging?

In almost one in ten votes, he votes against the party. Split anyone?

I have no doubt that Clarke can be very charming and persuasive and, of, course, he is entitled to his own views about Europe and referendums. However, where this becomes objectionable is when he resorts to deliberate misrepresentations in order to further those views.

The point about the referendum over the Lisbon treaty was not whether or not a referendum was the best way to proceed, but whether Labour should be held to their manifesto promise to hold one.

Similarly, whilst Clarke may be strongly in favour of the EU, he should not deliberately misrepresent ( as he has done many times in the past) the principal objective of that organisation, which is and always has been political union, involving a supreme EU government.

Some may argue against referendums upon the grounds that these usurp the functions of Parliament. But, when Parliament abdicates from its constitutional duties and delegates these to a foreign, unelected, body, then it has lost its democratic mandate to govern, which can only be restored by an election or a referendum.

Jack Stone,
I note that, in your book, only europhiles seem to be allowed to hold moderate opinions, whilst the grass roots only represent rabid europhobia.

If, indeed the Conservative Parliamentary party (as may well be the case) are concerned only with winning the next election, at whatever cost and upon whatever pretext, regardless of promises or principles, then they will undoubtedly lose a great deal of support, not merely from their own grass roots, but from potential swing voters.

We want substance rather than what "jon dee" refers to as "star quality". That is just one of the reasons, why George Osborne should stay.

NO to Ken Clarke!

On the otherhand, the return of Michael Howard and John Redwood would be most welcome.

Ken Clarke is popular in the country, has experience in economic policy and does not owe his political career to David Cameron. That makes him different from every other member of the shadow cabinet and it is bad - it means, for example, that we do not have an economic strategy when the economy is centre stage.

I can see why Cameron would be cautious: Ken would be a challenge, he has principles and is willing to fight his corner. But that should not exclude him from office - quite the reverse. Mrs Thatcher surrounded herself with big people who she could argue with - it helped her come to conclusions.

Cameron needs people other than "yes men" around him, and if Ken is willing to do it, he should be welcomed back. Now is, after all, no time for a novice!

To those people who are "eurosceptics" and would disqualify Ken from the front bench on those grounds - we have fought elections in the past on Europe, and we lost. So let's not get carried away with that argument for a minute!

John Scott

I suggest that the "banging on about Europe" (- and I am a banger) is currently low key as regards the electorate at large, by virtue of the currently stated official policy on the Tory website.

Whilst I agree that Ken Clarke is a formidable chappie, his appointment as shadow chancellor or other EU-relevant frontbench post would bring the topic very much to the forefront again, thus negating any advantage from so doing.

On the other hand, if he would state unequivocally that he accepts the official policy line, then maybe.....

@Andrew S

Sorry but I'm not the man himself, just someone who believes that he has the insight and ability to stick it to Nu Lab. We all want to see the back of this thoroughly corrupt shower we have in Government, but I do share the concerns of others that Kens' pro-europe stance would prove divisive. I am not in favour of removing Osbourne at all but do believe that the 'big beasts' - Redwood, Davis etc. should be given far more prominence.

Ken Stevens: I agree that he would have to sign up to the party's policy on Europe. I can't see him having much of a problem with that - the EPP policy seems to be about to change (it has been impossible to find a European group to join as significant in size and influence as the EPP) and he has already stated that he does not agree with joining the euro at the present time.

I think we should be focusing on our differences with Labour - and developing a coherent alternative on the economy - rather than worrying about internal party battles that have set us back over the last ten years.

I heard the article on the Westminster Hour and Ken was very jovial and when the reporter through the inevitable question, he straight away said he was happy where he was, didn't expect to be aksed, but if he was he'd have to think about it, but he dismissed the possibility of even being asked as a huge joke.

I knew when he said it that something like this would happen and I have no doubt there will be somehting in the Sundays about Ken angling for Osborne's job. It's nonsense and lazy journalism to suggest this based on such a flimsy source.

Move along please, nothing to see!

And can everybody please spell George Osborne's name correctly - there is no "U" in it!

I'm not the biggest Ken Clarke fan, I have to admit.

However, surely it's all hands on deck now?

John Scott,

Not quite true to say that we (the Conservatives) have fought elections over the EU in the past. Certainly we have fought elections in which the EU (and the Euro) have featured quuite prominently, but not only was the EU element in those campaigns badly presented and handled ( "In Europe but not ruled by Europe" etc.), but the circumstances were very different. The referendums opposing the proposed EU constitution had not been arrogantly ignored for the first, let alone the second time, nor had the EU leaders at that time openly admitted the objective of creating a supreme single European government.

In the intervening period the Labour Government has relentlessly surrendered more and more of our sovereign powers to Brussels and committed this country to more and more unachievable and unaffordable EU policies, with no mandate to do so.

Even today, Brussels now exercises a greater control over the profitability of British businesses and the individual freedoms of British people than does our own Parliament and, as the recession bites deeper, more people will become aware of the consequences of this.

By all means let Tory EU enthusiasts and EU Sceptics make their cases loudly and clearly, but, at the very least, the party must admit that our future relationship with the EU will be of crucial importance to this country. Currently, the mutual pact between all three main parties to ignore whether they or the EU really governs Britain, merits the increasing contempt with which the public views all three leaders and our political class in general.

Ken Clarke should probably have become Conservative leader after the 1997 drubbing. We would have had more seats now, at least. But if he is not willing to change his euro-tune, which he won't be, unfortunately he cannot become (Shadow) Chancellor. His europhilia is anathema.

Why not compromise and make Ken Clarke Shadow Business Secretary with a mandate to fight for small & medium sized firms to get easier credit & to have to comply with fewer regulations ? He would be superb as one has to credit Mandy with being a big hitter and so unleashing one of our own might not be a bad idea . Ken could be a man with a plan to fight for small & medium sized business who will have a vital role in any economic recovery . He would also make life pretty nasty for Labor by exposing their failings while offering an effective Conservative remedy in a way that sways the voters in marginal seats. We need to sound like a government in waiting and having more adults in the top team might help to counter the no time for a novice line as effectively as Joe Biden did for Obama.


I agree with you.

I don't suppose it's crossed anyone's mind that we might have lost the 1997 election because Blair took an ardent negative stance on Europe at that time, and the 2005 election may have been lost because he was also 'adamant' that HE would put the EU Constitution to a referendum.

Further more, he also confirmed if the words were changed then he'd still hold a referendum and Brown gave messages AGAINST joining the Euro all through his Chancellorship and before it.

The Tories spent 10 years squabbling with each other and another 11 years being petrified to actually tackle it.

It is clearly the case that Labour conned the British electorate over the Treaty, and it's also clear from polls, that the British public still resent us being 'ran' by Europe so the question doesn't raise itself as to whether it is an "issue" as plainly it has been been, still is and always will be an issue.

Amazed that this thread has generated more comment than Aldermarston. I doubt Cameron would offer the post and I doubt if Clarke would accept the restrictions that would inevitably have to be placed upon him before he could be offered the job.

Tony Blair 33/1 to appear on Strictly Come Dancing 2009.

Malcolm Dunn,
Although, to elaborate, this would be going some way off topic, I do agree with your comments about Aldermaston, as merely one example of where we are now totally dependent upon other countries for even our basic defence logistics.

Surely the Party has more talent and imagination to have to go trawling back to the 1990's!!

Clark would be nightmare in the cabinet when it came to sorting out our relationship with the EU, and for this reason alone it should rule him out.

I think people have to remember that bringing back Clarke would immediately alienate the public, and turn many people away.

Experience he may have, but it is the past we are trying to get away from. The past that made us lose a record landslide defeat. To the party members, it doesn't matter. They would vote Conservative anyway - they have no choice. Its the public that have to be convinced. The dynamism and youth of George Osbourne is part of that.

Ken Clarke? No disrespect, but no thank you.

I think people have to remember that bringing back Clarke would immediately alienate the public, and turn many people away.

Experience he may have, but it is the past we are trying to get away from. The past that made us lose a record landslide defeat. To the party members, it doesn't matter. They would vote Conservative anyway - they have no choice. Its the public that have to be convinced. The dynamism and youth of George Osbourne is part of that.

Ken Clarke? No disrespect, but no thank you.

I don't see any reason at all why Ken Clarke should abandon his pro European views, just keep them to himself instead

The fact that we are even considering Ken Clarke shows that dear George Osborne has failed.

Given that Brown has been at the helm of the economy for nearly 12 years and we have the biggest downturn since the 1930's on our hands and I can't remember a contribution to the debate from George since the 'yachtgate' fiasco.
Why did he not see it coming and warn everyone? Moneyweek & Fred Harrison did.

Clarke was a good Chancellor but is yesterday's man and his bizarre pro-EU stance would reopen all the old wounds.

Swap Hague & Osborne and bring Davis in as Chairman/attack dog.

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