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Ken has a lot going for him. The question is: can he give any credible reassurance that when push comes to shove he would stick to the Party line (or at least not oppose the Party line) on the euro and the EPP? I genuinely don't know the answer to that question. But I doubt it.

Well that's the case for the prosecution.

But for all Ken Clarke's flaws let us not forget he is massively experienced in government.

He was a successful Chancellor who left things in a better state than he found them. Which is more than one can say about Brown.

Ken Clarke cannot be blamed for all the tribulations of the Major years. He deserves a fairer assessment than what is offered above.

Is appointing him a risk? Yes. But surely no more than keeping on Osborne as Shadow Chancellor after his recent track record.

It's time to lay the past aside and think more objectively.

Clarification of laying the past aside from someone who attended and witnessed the carnage of the '92 party conference.

There is a lot of personal dislike for Ken which is based in a time when it seemed the party was almost suicidal about Europe.

But things have moved on. A lot. So a new assessment is needed and a willingness to put aside old prejudices born in a time which has long passed and from which a lesson of unity is abundantly plain.

Tim, you can't have it both ways, if the grassroots vote for something you agree with it's fait accompli, if not there is a series of stories to the contrary, If Ken cannot be promoted to the cabinet for fear of upsetting the right, then a whole bunch of folks on the right need to be excluded for the same reasons.

ffs, why is Tebbit's opinion important here?

(ps, on David Smith in the Sundae Times, he's a rubbish economics editor with an inflated ego )

I don`t dislike Ken Clarke: on the contrary I share his taste in jazz and he seems a jovial character a lot of the time. However, he is just plain wrong. As previously stated here, UKIP would gain enormous benefit from his promotion. So bring him on!

If Dave appoints Ken Clarke he is sticking two fingers up to every Eurosceptic in advance of June's elections.

While there are undoubtedly some talented members of the shadow cabinet, the problem with opposition is that the public have never heard of them and they have never been tested in government.

We need to present a team at the next election which is recognisable, tested and liked. Ken Clarke has experience of getting Britain out of a recession, he is liked by the general public and even 50% of Conservative Home readers want him back - that is 12 years after he last held office.

Ken would complement Cameron perfectly, in ways that Osborne cannot. His background means that two of Labour's main attacks - Tory toffs and "you're novices - would be destroyed.

Ken would be a net gain for the shadow cabinet. Of course there would be arguments over policy, because he has a beating pulse, some ideas and views. But, my goodness, that is what we need right now.

I do hope Cameron doesn't back off from doing what is right: which is to bring one of the most talented, recognisable and popular Conservatives back into the shadow cabinet at a time we need big people around the top table.

One further thought for Cameron: if he doesn't build a strong team around him, and fast, this is going to put a further strain on his relationship with other members of the shadow cabinet. Blair didn't have 24 great people, but he had enough recognised, intelligent and argumentative people at the top to ensure ideas were tested properly in shadow cabinet and then communicated effectively to different sections of the electorate - Brown, Prescott, Straw, Beckett, Cook. We need similar strength - of mind and voice. Looking pretty is not enough.

Oberon: I've made it very clear what the grassroots think. The 50% to 41% support for his return has been widely featured in the national newspapers.

But I'm entitled to my view too. It's not just Europe. It's not just Tebbit. The above post contains a number of reasons for my concerns.

This will be my last comment today as I'm taking the day off. Jonathan will be monitoring the site :-)

"He was first to propose the disastrous VAT cut. Then changed his mind. "

Well, that seems a perfect fit with Osborne who took credit for proposing the even more expensive and more ineffective recapitalisation plan. Then changed his mind.

Can we have John Redwood yet?

"I think it would be a nightmare," says Norman Tebbit, "as I don't think he would be able to stick to the party line."

Side-splitting stuff from the man who CH says "exasperates his successors on the Conservative green benches", who compared Cameron to Pol Pot, who said the Conservative Party was "eroding its ultra-loyalist bedrock vote, while doing nothing to entice back its thoughtful erstwhile supporters", who demanded "more beef from Cameron", and so on.

Thank you, Lord Tebbit, for a very good laugh on a Sunday morning.

"Despite a 50% to 41% vote of confidence from party members, Jonathan Isaby and I raised our worries about Ken Clarke earlier this week. "

You might have raised concerns as late as this week but along with Pickles, you've been doing your best to cheerlead for him!


Hush puppies, cigars, europhile, read the newspaper and did the cross word whilst meeting the Police federation, failed 3 times contesting the party leadership.

yes impeccable credentials!

The job that seems to be being proposed for Ken is Shadow Business Secretary. The key problem that everyone seems to have with Ken is his Euro views. Maybe then this isn't the best job for Ken, as the Euro is bound to come up in his brief.

An alternative job would be Party Chairman. His great strength is his ability to connect with the public. So who better to sell the Conservative Party to the public. And, as an election approaches, there aren't many more MPs in the House of Commons who have fought more General Elections than Ken Clarke. It wouldn't tie him to any particular brief, but would allow him to do what he does best - Labour bashing! He would be a great mouthpiece for the party.

This is starting to get boring, is there really anything new to say about the subject? Much as I admire Lord Tebbitt he really is the last person who should talk about party loyalty.

Go ahead and bring Ken onto the scene,then sit back,relax and watch David Cameron dissapear as he slips silently over the horizon,along with all our hard earned gains.
Maybe Man Utd should bring back Bobby Charlton as well eh?

KC may be an amiable a talented 'bloke' but I remember the bitterness of the '92 conference - I was there!
There were some Associations so appalled by his position on europe they considered calling on his Association to deselect him.
His challenges for the Leadership were very bad experiences and UKIP membership grew as a result.
If DC is considering bringing KC back to the front bench then it suggests the talent needed doesn't exist elsewhere on the back bench. That I do not believe.

Yet another day, yet more more tail trying to wag the dog regarding Ken Clark- this site used to be good in that it did not try lead its readers to conclusions.

Bottom line. Ken Clark is much liked by the general population out there- more so than most Conservatives. There are reasons for that.

Speaking here as an ordinary voter, not a Member of the Conservative Party, i was once, indeed I was an even a trained Agent. I now sit on the sidelines and look at things from a different perspective to those who eat live and breath politics daily.

Ignoring the likes of Ken Clarke etc, in my opinion is a big mistake, the everyday voters, the job blogg's in the towns and city's care not that he has a more liberal view on Europe, in fact the vast majority really couldnt care less about Europe and weather the Tory Party should stay or leave the EPP grouping - but I digress. Ken Clarke is very down to earth and gets across things in a way that the every day voter understands. His no nonsense style is what is needed.

The Conservative party needs to reach out by including figures such as Ken Clarke.

Why this victimisation of Ken from a party which owes him so much. I feel extremely angry at the stitch up job a bunch of extremist Eurosceptics seem to be doing. You can't seem to tolerate anyone having a different opinion to you. The electorate and the party members like and want Ken. There is a reason for this - competence. Something that Tebbit has never had.

Well of course he is the "most rebellious Tory MP", almost exclusively over Europe where his principled views, even if out of step with Party policy, can hardly be said to be hidden and his rebellions not known in advance!

But it's hardly for people like Norman Tebbit to then attack Clarke and say he wouldn't toe the line. Because of course the right-wing never do anything to undermine the leadership of the Party!

It is interesting. In the past when Ken Clarke has been mentioned on here, a large majority have been against him having any frontline role - probably 85% - 15%.

Now there is a much more even split, for every post speaking out against Clarke, there is one in his favour. The bloggers on this site seem to be split right down the middle, 50-50.

Yet this is not relected in the editorials. It is noted on other sites that Conservative Home is against the return of Ken Clarke. That is not true. Tim and Jonathan are against it. The membership are split. A bit more recognition of what your members are saying would be nice.

Why give the Conservatives the headache of having a divisive figure in a prominent position? The Labour Party would love that.

The EU is not one of the major issues facing us right now. I agree with BOO, but the EU comes so low down most voters priorities, to concentrate on ideological purity on this would be madness.

The issue facing the country now are:

- Economy
- Jobs
- er...the Economy

Ken Clarke will destroy Labour on this and also rebuffs the "Toff" and "inexperienced" lines of attack. He is hugely popular with the public. The pros far outweigh the cons.

There may be more sound individuals, but none have the appeal of Ken. In fact, someone like Redwood is a huge turn-off for moderate voters.

Since without Tim there simply wouldn't be a Conservative Home, and since he is the site's editor, it's not fair to criticise him for repeatedly telling us he doesn't want Ken in the shadow cabinet. I suspect it's not Ken's europhilia (with which I disagree) so much as his lukewarm support for the social justice agenda which causes editorial discomfort (I also agree with Tim about that).

Leaving aside Lord Tebbit's contribution (to which the healthiest response is hollow laughter) and the amusing sight of other columnists whose usual raison d'être is to decry interference with the Market suddenly developing a social conscience over tobacco sales, I still think Tim is wrong.

Ken did great things at health and education. He wasn't scared to take on vested interests and he made changes which were among the most "Thatcherite" (in terms of extending consumer choice) than many of his dryer colleagues. He did all this while still exhuding the easy bonhomie which makes the voter disposed to listen to him (I fear the rightwing of our party, in thrall to "ideas", will never get this). He was very successful at the Treasury and dollops out the right amount of contemptuous disdain to Darling and his cohorts. He would politically destroy Mandelson. I doubt he will, but for all these reasons I would love to see David Cameron bring Ken onto the front bench again.

Despite his views on the Single Currency, and the Constitution, I would strongly welcome Ken Clarke back onto the front bench.

Most of the good things in life are worth a risk.

He also has a very fine constituency in South Nottinghamshire worth visiting for a holiday.

The fact that one man - Kenneth Clarke - can generate such interest in the media and blogs like this suggests he is too interesting to ignore. For years, people on this blog and elsewhere have been criticising Labour "clones", who live for their pagers to tell them what to say and how to vote. Ken is not a clone; that means he has independent views and is a man of principle who votes accordingly; he is not bound by the collective responsibility of the front bench - but of course he would be if he joined the front bench.

I don't mean to be rude to donors, but would anyone really be interested in what Stuart Wheeler had to say unless he gave millions of pounds to the party. I do not think policy or personnel decisions should be influenced by threats of this kind.

For what it's worth, I'm a strong fan of Norman Tebbit aswell, but it really is a bit much for him to lecture others on loyalty when his record on that isn't so great, even on a few occasions whilst Mrs Thatcher was still PM. (such as allowing people to come from Hong Kong pre the handover, during 1990).

Just to be clear, I wasn't criticising Tim for his opinion or for having an opinion. I completely understand and respect where those who don't want to see Ken back in the shadow cabinet are coming from. I don't want to see John Redwood back in the shadow cabinet (although do when we get in government), but likewise I can see why those who do want him back feel that way.

Yes, without Tim Montgomerie there wouldn't be a Conservative Home. It is an incredible site, one I visit many times a day, and it has made a huge impact on British politics since he set it up. At the same time, it wouldn't be as big without its readers, contributors, members etc. and all I am asking is that their views be reflected a little more on this issue, which is that there are as many in favour as against.

Personally, I think the arguments for and against Ken have been rehearsed on both sides extrmeley well, and there are good arguments for and against him. Would be nice to look at other aspects of this reshuffle now.

Will IDS be coming back, for instance? Should Grieve be moved from the Home Office? Who should be Party Chairman? What about members who have served since the days of the Hague shadow cabinet like Oliver Letwin, Francis Maude, David Willetts, Theresa May, Liam Fox? Who should be brought in to the shadow cabinet for the first time? Justine Greening? Maria Miller? Might there be any surprise retirements - Lord Strathclyde has been mentioned before. The focus has been too much on Clarke!

Many people seem to forget Clarke and Hesseltine joining Blair and Brown covered by every news channel without a vestige of interest in our country pushing for the Euro, endorsing the two people that have ruined this country and a certain betrayal to the Conservative party

They weren't endorsing Blair and Brown they were advocating membership of the single currency, which is something they personally believe in. I'm not old enough to remember the referendum to confirm membership of the EEC in 1975, but I do believe that it was cross party on both sides of the argument, with Willie Whitelaw, Thatcher's right hand man, sharing platforms with Roy Jenkins, while those against were sharing a platform with people like Barbara Castle and Tony Benn. Some issues cut across party lines. Parties are broad churches, and not everyone within them can have exactly the same views on exactly the same thing - we are not New Labour's army of clones. Conservative Home favourites Eric Pickles and Damian Green are pro-European too I believe!

COMMENT OVERWRITTEN

The only thing that matters is not whether the RT Kenneth Clarke MP is on a front bench seat, but whether we fall apart over Europe as a result of it occurring.

David Cameron would surely be a fool not to consider that as being very likely and I doubt the man is a fool. Minds do also change and in the likelihood of such a move, DC needs to get KC to make a deliberate statement on his position with the EU which I hope would not be so intransigent so as to completely wreck our party !

Personally I think such a risk is not worth taking.

Both Clarke and Hesseltine could have mounted their own campaign with other Conservatives but to join Blair’s campaign was endorsing two people that were the perpetrators of the campaign and was reported widely as this through the press and did not go down well with the Tory leadership or Conservative members at the time.
Clarke was a first rate Chancellor and would in interview easily put people like Paxman in his place with ease. Too many people in the media would always ask the European questions to cause an internal rift and we need to go forwards not backwards.

Ken Clarke is a bruiser; a savvy political operator and a guy who genuinely commands respect from the sort of suburban, working class Tories that this party desperately needs for us to win the next election.

Do you think these people, who don't live in deepest Leicestershire in a big house with three horses, care anywhere near as much about the frigging EPP as some of the earlier posters on here clearly do?

Of course they don't.

I'll tell you what they do give a care about, however. They are worried about their jobs and the financial security of their families. They look to the two main parties for some comfort that they will help them. It has to be said that they don't quite trust Osborne yet. They want reassurances from politicians they can trust. Ken Clarke gives us this enormous credibility.

I think we should remember that before splitting ourselves along the pathetic old dividing lines on Europe which ordinary people in this country couldn't give an MEP's expense account for.

Get KC back, put him on every news programme lambasting this government in his enduring way. Have him on Question Time, Newsnight with Paxman... hell we should have him touring the must-win suburban constituencies supporting our hard working candidates.

That is the way to win.

OK, look at this another way round do we need a bit more experience to balance the youthful drive and enthusiasn? Answer, yes. Do we need a bit more grit or blokeishness, (an element of northerness even). Answer, Yes.

Who have we got? Well various people that fit both descriptions but are out on a limb at present. If we brought them back, would it improve our chances and image? Yes again. Should we bring them back? Yes.

From Cameron's interview.

Asked about former Chancellor Kenneth Clarke, who has been tipped for a shadow cabinet job, Mr Cameron said: “As far as I’m concerned he’s back already.”

rightwingery: spot on.

I think a balanced compromise would be to see the pro-European's Damien Green & Ken Clarke brought back along with the middle of the road Sir Malcolm Rifkind along with John Redwood , Iain Duncan-Smith & David Davis.

That would hardly spark fears of a lurch to the right or of a move in favor of the single currency by the Tories. We need all the talents there in the front-line to expose Brown's failings and sell a decent alternative vision telling the voters that we can improve things.

Justine Greening, Angela Watkinson and Maria Miller could join the Shadow Cabinet to prove our meritocratic credentials inasmuch as talented women can get on in the Tory Party.

Theresa May, Caroline Spelman, Peter Ainsworth, Francis Maude, Andrew Lansley, David Willetts , Alan Duncan, Dominic Grieve and the present chief whip have all been found wanting. Oliver Letwin has just muddied the waters while Andrew Mackay was a first class deputy chief whip during John Major's last year and the whip's office is not being well-run. Too much back-biting , briefing etc. Mr Mackay is well liked and trusted by the leader - sounds a good choice to run the whip's office.

Time for a change to get our poll lead up so we get a decent majority at the next general election.

I think we need to be more accommodating within the party, and recognise that there are people with different view on Europe, as indeed there are wet and dry's, free marketeers, people with a more state led bias etc.. Until we can learn to live together for the greater good, we only undermine each other. People like Ken, and indeed the right should be able to reach senior positions without causing major arguments and splits. The right need to stop this brinkmanship every time someone on the left is mentioned.

Of course the editor wouldn`t want Ken Clarke back in the cabinet he worked for IDS who is the party`s most right`wing leader ever.
Its like being surprised that Margaret Thatcher wouldn`t want Tony benn in a cabinet of hers.

Maybe party policy on the EU could determine whether Ken Clarke (who I find immensely appealing as a person but with whose views on the EU I am in disagreement) should return to the front bench or not.

Unfortunately, we do not seem to have any real policy on the EU at the moment, just bits and pieces, as with the economy.

I have suggested several times that, if the party's policy were to offer the country a referendum on either (i) staying in, (ii) seeking associate membership or (iii) leaving with the promise that the government would accede to the wishes of the people, then I think that if Ken Clarke accepted that position without reserve he should be brought back in.

So Cameron brings Clarke into his Shadow Cabinet, and somehow the latter manages to keep quiet about his real views on the EU for the next fifteen months.

Despite the EU Parliament elections in June, and the second Irish referendum in October, and the fact that - whichever way that vote goes - the Lisbon Treaty will be a significant issue in the run up to the general election in the spring of 2010.

And despite the accumulated evidence that he is a traitor, the more patriotic Tories decide to hold their peace for the sake of party unity, and UKIP and other groups fail to make much headway exposing him to the public.

And what's more he seems to make mincemeat of Mandelson, successfully covering up his true beliefs and fudging the issue every time the euro is mentioned, or the Lisbon treaty is mentioned, or the latest piece of lunatic EU legislation is mentioned, or the role of referendums in our political system is mentioned.

And because he's a "big gun", and wildly popular in the country, he helps Cameron into Downing Street.

WHAT THEN?

Does Cameron say "Thanks, Ken, you've been a great help, but I can't have you in my goverment"?

Or does Cameron accept that henceforth this "big gun" will be the proverbial loose cannon, rolling around the decks every time something comes up about the EU - which it will, again and again, in the following months and years - and even when he isn't openly splitting the government, he's constantly, surreptitiously, trying to undermine Cameron's own policies on the EU?

If Cameron is really willing to contemplate that eventuality, then it must call into question his judgement, or his own patriotism, or both.

I have not been in favour of Mr. Clarke being brought back into the Shadow Cabinet. Granted he can talk anyone down, and appears to command respect in some people, AND more people know OF him than say David Willetts.

Old Hack goes on about how 'things have moved on - a lot', but doesn't indicate in what way!

I think a high-powered committee of economic advisors, is a prefectly appropriate idea for the present state of the country, in fact I think that it is essential, and if Ken Clarke was part of that it would give it even more gravitas!

So if - as David Belchamber indicated @ 16.55 Clarke was confined somewhat on the subject of the EU and the Euro, I would go along with that.


I think we get the point. Saying no to Ken for reasons of ideological purity is a terrible shame for our Party. And that comes from somebody who fundamentally disagrees with Ken on Europe but thinks he is wasted on the back benches. It is something of a shame that this site seems to think it can somehow intimidate the party leadership ahead of the reshuffle.

I have also blogged about this matter here:

http://www.platform10.org/the-view-from-here/article/?no=365

Put like that Denis Cooper above, I would agree with you, I suppose it comes down to - which is more important:-

Kenneth Clarke - reliable, or
Kenneth Clarke - well-known, a bruiser, but
single-minded on the single
currency and Europe.

rightwingery @ 15-08
You are so right about Ken Clarke.He is respected,admired and most of all,recognised by a huge number of potential Conservative voters.
Bluntly, his USP value far outweighs tribal differences and old battlelines.
As you also suggest,his communication skills are first class and desperately needed.

Bring him back the Euro needs him.

Listening to David Cameron this morning on Marr (bloody awful mess they made of the outside broadcast), doesn't sound like a return is on the cards. Great shame, if you look at how heavily the Right are represented there, it seems to me that we need to balance that out. Look Ken is far weightier that most in the shadow team, we need him there.

... ps, most of the hyperbole on this site about Ken is by overly medicated UKIPPERS, so lets be mindful that the grassroots aren't quite so rabid about a europhile's.

I never bothered about UKIP much, until I was up in Nantwich campaigning for Timpson and the UKIPPERS camped outside the Conservative Association with cars and vans pained yellow and purple with huge loudhailers rivetted to the roof (EU money paid for that btw!!)... ranting for hours on end. No sense of humour, swivel eyed (literally) about Brussels and spent their time scaring grannies and teenagers ranting their scripted EU monster lines. Is that who we want to influence whether Ken Clarke has a future in our party. Nope, not for me.

I now simply wish that David Cameron would get on with it! The longer this speculation drags on, the more damaging it is.

Bring KC back? - Labour would be dancing in the street!

I am not at all sure I want to vote for a party that cannot use talents like Ken & DD. The amount of unthinking, myopic, party-destructive vitriol, against Ken, is shocking. As Sally Roberts says, this needs to be got on with. Cameron's dithering on sorting out his new shadow cabinet looks as though he is being driven by events rather than driving them, he should not be dithering, waiting for any outside factors he should just do it. The man leaning on the bar wants Ken back, actually he wants a pint with him. He remembers Ken, for all his faults, as being a good communicator and good on the economics. The shadow Chancellor needs to be both. Is Osborne either of those things?

I would hope that Ken Clarke's "outspoken" comments would cease once he is in the shadow cabinet.

Someone please shake David Cameron (as he would like to shake Gordon Brown) and tell him to damn well get on with it.

Two things need to be done:
1) a COHERENT economic strategy, no more small announcements
2) Get Ken Clarke in the shadow cabinet and sod those who may object. It's your cabinet Mr. Cameron do what you want. Just hurry up!!

I absolutely agree with the Editor on this. Bringing back Ken Clarke would be a huge huge mistake. As the Ed points out, he opposes DC’s policies on the EU, such an evangelist for further EU-integration is he, saying even merely leaving the EPP is a "head-banging" policy, and doesn't support David Cameron's flagship, yes flagship, policies on recognising marriage in the tax system. Therefore how he be anything other than disruptive and undermining of Mr Cameron’s leadership and our chances?

As for his returning worrying Labour, I suspect the opposite may be the case. Rather surely it could delight Labour, and the BBC, who'd be forever looking for splits and disagreements over the EU. Labour (particularly EUphile Mandelson) would surely ensure EU policy moves up the media agenda to provoke such an outcome.

Also could any return of Ken Clarke to the Shadow Cabinet following Mandelson’s return to help Mr Brown give the impression that we’re 1) worried about Mandelson/Brown, 2) are merely reacting to Labour, following them in a change to bring back someone from the ‘old guard’, and 3) DC is not confident in enough of his Shadow Cabinet appearing to admit weakness without Ken Clarke?

(If we’re to have any ‘old guard' back, far better John Redwood!)

I agree that including Ken Clarke on a powerful economic committee with others as Tim suggested would be a better way of using his talents.

Andrew S 2040 "I would hope that Ken Clarke's "outspoken" comments would cease once he is in the shadow cabinet." isn't this just a little optimistic for someone identified by Philip Cowley as the most rebellious Tory MP?

No, no, no to Ken. He is a surrenderist in the war on terror.

Restoring Ken Clarke would be a disaster and the ultimate proof is that the trolls like him.

Super Blue, a lot of the general population like him too. He is a vote winner more than he is a vote loser.

One of the few Tories that a lot of people actually have respect for.

"Restoring Ken Clarke would be a disaster and the ultimate proof is that the trolls like him."
False. Ken is affable and plays well across the board. "It is not only what you say, it is how you say it".
Having said that, undermining Alan Duncan is not useful or productive on the part of those who want Ken in to do symmetry against Mandelsohn.
Where and how would I try to utilise his talents to drive home a more effective attack on Labour? I don't know, and one reason I would be hampered is that current leadership policy is keep the cards very close to the chest, so as a Shadow Front Bencher the message is "Protect your bailiwick, but keep quiet about it". This does not suit Ken's style, so unless there is a change of this policy, to me it would appear best to be Without Portfolio and put the boot in without having a defined area to be responsible for (ie opposition can't home in on to attack), - something which at present would suit your man's style.
Downsides are apparent, ie don't drop colleagues in it, Liaise and communicate.
Ken is the most rounded, and healthy , player at the moment: Health, Employment, Treasury. Loose the dog, flush them out. Make 'em rise.

BRING BACK KEN...

Interesting how many of the above posts were in favour of bringing Ken back. I would pout it at about 70% in favour.

This is strikingly different from only a few months ago, and I think represents the gravity of the collapse in the British economy.

Finally - could we stop this ridiculous assumption that right wing = anti-Europe and "wet" = pro-Europe. There are plenty of left wingers who are vehemently anti-Europe and vice versa. Ken is in my opinion quite right wing - and is to be credited for refusing to go on a left wing style spending spree at the end of the last Tory government. He is a principled politician - which is why I think many swing voters trust him.

It is wishful thinking, to assume that Ken would not be a divisive figure in the Shadow Cabinet. I don't believe that he would be a vote winner in the longer term, either.

Tim, I think the attack on you on Platform 10 is pretty funny. Typical neo-Victorian condescension from the gilded patricians who run the Conservative Party, produced appropriately enough by someone called Disraeli. How dare the hoi polloi criticise the (abysmal) performance of the Party Chairman? How dare they voice an opinion on who should be in the Shadow Cabinet (KC is overrated and would inevitably pick a fight about Europe)?

It's also pretty rich of them to accuse you of ideological purity when they have made it their mission to adopt almost all of the ideological baggage of the Labour Party.

Is this the launch - Hurrah,
or,
Hitting the iceberg - Boo.
I suspect the latter.

If Clarke is so good and so enthusiastic to help the party why has he kept his mouth closed over the past eleven years?

Surely, such a wonderful person could have helped us out of the wilderness long before now if he were such an effective "beast"?

His record over the period of this Labour government is so poor as to deny his consideration for High Office - even in the Shadow Cabinet.

If the party is serious about winning the next election it is absolutely vital that the big hitters, Clarke, Redwood etc., are brought back into the Shadow Cabinet as soon as possible to retrieve the mess made by most of the present incumbents who largely have shown no fight, no ability and certainly no hunger for victory. At the moment we have a leader who leans far too much to the left and seems to think it more important to appear 'nice' than right and who has modelled himself on Blair.
We have a shadow cabinet who don't seem to have any real Conservative principles and collectively no appetite for a dogfight with the government. Above it is suggested that a grand committee be formed to advise on economic affairs - I have just two comments on this naive suggestion. Firstly the camel is a horse designed by a committee and secondly I believe that the late Chairman of Fiat cars was right when he said that all committees should have an odd number of members and three is too many.

If Stuart Wheeler will stop funding the Tories if David Cameron brings back Ken Clarke, then why is he funding the Tories now? Why has he ever done so?

The Tories are the party of the Treaty of Rome, the Single European Act, the Maastricht Treaty, eighteen consecutive annual votes to approve the Common Agricultural Policy (with only the tiniest handful of rebels, towards the very hand), eighteen consecutive annual votes to approve the Common Fisheries Policy (likewise), the withdrawal of the whip from an infinitesimal number of MPs who merely abstained on increased British funding of the EU, the deselection of a Maastricht rebel and of no other MP ever on the European issue, the fake call for a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty rather than for its simple rejection by Parliament, and the refusal to promise to campaign for a No vote in the extremely unlikely event of any such referendum.

Even the vague promise to revisit the CFP, an old Major hand like Michael Howard’s nod to Euroscepticism, has been ditched by Cameron, Michael Heseltine’s mini-me. The Tories have not left the European People’s Party, and they never will.

So why does Stuart Wheeler fund them? Why has he ever done so?

Who cares what Stuart Wheeler thinks anyway ? It is not for him to dictate to the Party. His insular views on Europe, in any case, are more in tune with UKIP. Perhaps he should join that rabble.

"In current times it is important to be virulently eurosceptic in your
rhetoric and if this means concealing your real beliefs - don't worry.
Remember two things; you are a politician, so lying comes naturally, and
secondly, it is just for one night. Tomorrow they will have forgotten your
name, so you can go on being a federalist with a clear conscience."

Does the above ring any bells???

"Who cares what Stuart Wheeler thinks anyway?"

Well, he pays for your party.

Although I don't know why.

I was in two minds about bringing back Ken until I heard it was opposed by Stuart " I am important because I made my money from gamblers" Wheeler, and Lord Norman "right of genghis" Tebbit.

If these two self important hasbeen t**ts think it is a bad idea it must be a good one

Well I think it is interesting to refresh this line of debate and paste in what John Redwood had to say on his blog yesterday:-

I still meet Conservatives who say they would like Ken Clarke to replace George Osborne as Shadow Chancellor. How foolish they are. Peter Mandelson would like nothing better. The Labour spin machine is trying to sow discord in Tory ranks.

Let me give Conseravtives two solid reasons why we should not replace George with Ken. It was George who rallied Conservatives behind his proposals for capital tax reduction in the Autumn of 2007 and put Gordon off holding an early election when he was higher in the polls. In recent weeks George rightly led the Conservatives in Parliament to oppose the expensive and stupid VAT reduction, at a time when Ken said he thought it was a good idea. We need an Opposition which opposes the errors of this government’s economic policy, and shows the right judgement when the government does something as dangerous as the VAT reduction, boosting its borrowing too high, without stimulating the economy.

Labour are living in the 1990s if they think the united Eurosceptical Conservative party can be divided on European issues again. Conservatives represent the 75% of the UK electorate who think the EU has too much power and is too bureaucratic, leaving the federalist Lib Dems and Labour to fight over the other 25%.

It was good to hear William Hague reminding us that the Conservatives are against the extensive powers the EU has or is seeking in matters of defence, foreign affairs, immigration and criminal justice. I would also advise him to drop the line about the advantages of membership. We want him to negotiate a much better deal for us, so there is no need to suggest we like the present one at all. I want to hear him say “Conservatives accept the judgement of the British people in a referendum that they wish to trade with the EU and help shape a genuinely free market. In other matters we wish to have our own democratic right to decide for ourselves whether to reach agreement with our EU partners or not. We want a vibrant democracy in these islands, friendly trading relationships with the continent and common laws or regulations only where it makes sense for us as well. Overall we need much less tax, bureaucracy and regulation from Brusssels”.

You may also note that he has some intersting and pertinent things to say about the eu!

Please do not lose this thread - say something! JR's opinion counts.

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