Kenneth Clarke

Kenneth Clarke
The Right Honourable
Kenneth Clarke
Clarke, as Lord Chancellor
Lord Chancellor
Secretary of State for Justice
Assumed office
12 May 2010
Prime Minister David Cameron
Preceded by Jack Straw
Shadow Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills
In office
19 January 2009 – 11 May 2010
Leader David Cameron
Preceded by Alan Duncan
Succeeded by The Lord Mandelson
Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer
In office
2 May 1997 – 11 June 1997
Leader John Major
Preceded by Gordon Brown
Succeeded by Peter Lilley
Chancellor of the Exchequer
In office
27 May 1993 – 2 May 1997
Prime Minister John Major
Preceded by Norman Lamont
Succeeded by Gordon Brown
Home Secretary
In office
10 April 1992 – 27 May 1993
Prime Minister John Major
Preceded by Kenneth Baker
Succeeded by Michael Howard
Secretary of State for Education and Science
In office
2 November 1990 – 10 April 1992
Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher
John Major
Preceded by John MacGregor
Succeeded by John Patten (Education)
Secretary of State for Health
In office
25 July 1988 – 2 November 1990
Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher
Preceded by John Moore (Social Services)
Succeeded by William Waldegrave
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster
In office
13 July 1987 – 25 July 1988
Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher
Preceded by Norman Tebbit
Succeeded by Tony Newton
Paymaster General
In office
2 September 1985 – 13 July 1987
Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher
Preceded by John Gummer
Succeeded by Peter Brooke
Member of Parliament
for Rushcliffe
Assumed office
18 June 1970
Preceded by Antony Gardner
Personal details
Born 2 July 1940 (1940-07-02) (age 71)
West Bridgford, Nottinghamshire, England
Political party Conservative
Spouse(s) Gillian Edwards
Alma mater Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge
Religion Church of England

Kenneth Harry "Ken" Clarke, QC, MP (born 2 July 1940) is a British Conservative politician, currently Member of Parliament for Rushcliffe, Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice. He was first elected to Parliament in 1970; and appointed a minister in Edward Heath's government, in 1972, and is one of Britain's best-known politicians. Since 1997 he has been President of the Tory Reform Group.

Clarke was a minister throughout the 18 years of successive Conservative governments from 1979 to 1997, serving in the cabinets of both Margaret Thatcher and John Major. After the Conservative defeat in the 1997 general election Clarke became a backbencher. He has contested the Conservative Party leadership three times—in 1997, 2001 and 2005—and was defeated each time. Although he was considered popular with the general public, his famously pro-European integration views conflicted with the Conservative Party's scepticism of the EU. Notably, he is President of the Conservative Europe Group and Vice-President of the European Movement UK.[1] Despite this conflict, and his involvement with the tobacco industry, Conservative leader David Cameron returned Clarke to the Shadow Cabinet in March 2009 as Shadow Business Secretary. When Cameron became Prime Minister in May 2010 he appointed Clarke as Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice, after appointing Vince Cable, a Liberal Democrat, Business Secretary.


Early life

Kenneth Clarke was born in West Bridgford, near Nottingham, in 1940, and educated at Nottingham High School (then a direct grant grammar school). He went on to Cambridge University, where he studied law at Gonville and Caius College and graduated with a 2:1 honours degree. Clarke originally had Labour sympathies, his grandfather having been a Communist. However while at Cambridge, he joined the Conservative Party, and was chairman of the Cambridge University Conservative Association. Controversially, he invited former British fascist leader Sir Oswald Mosley to speak, for a second year in succession, leading some Jewish students (including his future successor at the Home Office Michael Howard) to resign from CUCA in protest.[2] Howard then defeated Clarke in one election for the presidency of the Cambridge Union Society, although Clarke was elected President of the Union a year later. In an early 1990s documentary, journalist Michael Cockerell played to Clarke some tape recordings of himself speaking at the Cambridge Union as a young man; Clarke displayed amusement at his own stereotypically upper class accent. Clarke was counted one of the Cambridge Mafia, a group of prominent Conservative politicians who were educated at Cambridge in the 1960s. On leaving Cambridge, Clarke was called to the Bar in 1963 by Gray's Inn and was appointed a Queen's Counsel in 1980.[3]

Member of Parliament

Clarke sought election to the House of Commons almost immediately after university. He began by fighting the Labour stronghold of Mansfield in the 1964 and 1966 elections. In June 1970, at the age of 29, he gained the East Midlands constituency of Rushcliffe, south of Nottingham, from Labour MP Tony Gardner. Labour has not come close to winning the seat since, but even Gardner's 1966 victory was partly due to the unpopularity of the Tory MP whom he defeated. Clarke was by 2005 one of the longest serving of all MPs. In the 55th Parliament, only Peter Tapsell (serving since 1959) has served longer, and Gerald Kaufman, Dennis Skinner and Michael Meacher all entered Parliament on the same day. David Winnick entered Parliament before Clarke (in 1966) but left in 1970 and only re-entered in 1979.

Kenneth Clarke was soon appointed a Government whip, and served as such from 1972 to 1974; he helped ensure Edward Heath's government win key votes on entry to the European Economic Community (now the EU) with the assistance of Labour rebels. Even though he opposed the election of Margaret Thatcher as party leader in 1975, he was appointed as her industry spokesman from 1976 to 1979, and then occupied a range of ministerial positions during her premiership.

Ministerial positions

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

Despite being an ardent pro-tobacco advocate, he was appointed Health Secretary in 1988, in which office he introduced the controversial 'internal market' concept in the NHS,.[4] Just over two years later he was appointed Education Secretary in the final weeks of Thatcher's government, following Norman Tebbit's unwillingness to return to the Cabinet. He was famously the first Cabinet minister to advise Thatcher to resign after her inadequate first-round performance in the November 1990 leadership contest; she referred to him in her memoirs as a "candid friend". He supported Douglas Hurd in the next round.[citation needed]

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

Chancellor of Exchequer

At first, Clarke was seen as the dominant figure in the Cabinet, and at the October 1993 Conference he "defended" Major from his critics by announcing "Any enemy of John Major is an enemy of mine".

In the party leadership of contest 1995, in which John Major won against John Redwood, Clarke kept faith in Major and commented "I don't think the Conservative Party could win an election in 1,000 years on this ultra right-wing programme".[5]

Clarke enjoyed an increasingly successful record as Chancellor, as the economy recovered from the recession of the early 1990s and a new monetary policy was put into effect after Black Wednesday. He was able to reduce the basic rate of Income Tax from 25 to 23%, reduce government's share of GDP, and to reduce the budget deficit from £50.8 billion in 1993 to £15.5 billion in 1997. Clarke's successor, the Labour Chancellor Gordon Brown, continued these policies, which elminated the deficit in 1998 and allowed Brown to record four years of budget surplus' 1998 - £703 million, 1999 - £12 billion, 2000 - £16.7 billion, 2001 - £8.4 billion. Interest rates, inflation and unemployment all fell during Clarke's tenure at HM Treasury.[4]

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


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

Clarke contested the party leadership for the second time in 2001. Despite opinion polls showing he was the most popular Conservative politician with the public,[4] he lost in a final round among the rank-and-file membership, a new procedure introduced by Hague, to a much less experienced, but strongly Eurosceptic rival, Iain Duncan Smith. This loss, by a margin of 62% to 38%, was attributed to the former Chancellor's pro-European views being increasingly out of step with the members' Euroscepticism.[4]

Clarke opposed the 2003 invasion of Iraq. After choosing not to fight for the leadership after Duncan Smith departed in 2003, in the interests of party unity, he returned to fight the 2005 election. He again had large popularity among voters, with 40% of the public believing he would be the best leader.[6] However, he was accused by Norman Tebbit of being "lazy" whilst leadership rival Sir Malcolm Rifkind claimed that Clarke's pro-European views could have divided the Conservative Party if Clarke had won.[7] In the event, Clarke was eliminated in the first round of voting among MPs. Eventual winner David Cameron appointed Clarke to head a Democracy task force as part of his extensive 18-month policy review in December 2005, exploring issues such as the reform of the House of Lords and party funding. Clarke is president of the moderate, pro-European ginger group within the Conservative Party, Tory Reform Group.

In 2006, he described Cameron's plans for a British Bill of Rights as "xenophobic and legal nonsense".[8]

Promotion to the shadow cabinet

Clarke was promoted to Shadow Business Secretary in opposition to the then current Business Secretary, Lord Mandelson. David Cameron described Clarke as the only one able to oppose Mandelson and Brown's economic credibility. Two days later it was revealed that Clarke had warned in a speech a month earlier that President Barack Obama could see David Cameron as a "right-wing nationalist" if the Conservatives maintained eurosceptic policies and that Obama would "start looking at whoever is in Germany or France if we start being isolationist."[9] However, the Financial Times said "Clarke has in effect agreed to disagree with the Tories’ official Eurosceptic line".[10]

Lord Chancellor and Justice Secretary

On 12 May 2010, it was announced that Clarke had been appointed Secretary of State for Justice and Lord Chancellor by Prime Minister David Cameron in a coalition government formed from the Conservative and Liberal Democrat parties.[11]

In June 2010, Clarke signalled an end to short prison sentences after warning it was "virtually impossible" to rehabilitate an inmate in less than 12 months. In his first major speech since taking office, Mr Clarke indicated a major shift in penal policy by saying prison was not effective in many cases. This could result in more offenders handed community punishments. Mr Clarke, who described the current prison population of 85,000 as "astonishing", faced immediate criticism from some colleagues in a party renowned for its tough stance on law and order. He signalled that fathers who fail to pay child maintenance and disqualified drivers and criminals fighting asylum refusals could be among the first to benefit and should not be in prison.[12]

In December 2010 Clarke, in a move to cut prison numbers, said that a Conservative Party election pledge that anyone caught carrying a knife illegally could expect a jail term will not be implemented. Clarke said he would put sentencing policy in the hands of judges, not newspaper pundits but that those guilty of using a knife illegally would face a “serious” jail term. Asked by BBC political editor Nick Robinson whether people caught carrying knives illegally could expect a lesser punishment, Mr Clarke said ministers would not insist on “absolute tariffs”. It means that, as at present, someone caught carrying a knife illegally may not face a custodial sentence, and may be cautioned instead.[13] The government is to try to reform the relationship between the European court of human rights and national parliaments when it assumes chairmanship of the Council of Europe in November after controversial rulings on sex offenders and votes for prisoners.

Clarke, in February 2011 said that the government intended to scrutinise the relationship between the European Court of Human Rights and national parliaments. This follows calls from a large number of Conservative backbenchers for the UK to walk away from the ECHR because they are unhappy with its rulings. MPs recently voted to maintain a ban on voting by prisoners despite an ECHR ruling that it was illegal. Many MPs have also been outraged by the UK supreme court's ruling that the ECHR would uphold the right of sex offenders to appeal against having to register with the police for the rest of their lives.[14]

In May 2011, controversy related to Clarke's reported views on rape resurfaced after an interview on the radio station BBC 5 Live, where he discussed a proposal to shrink the sentences of criminals, including rapists, who pleaded guilty in trial.[15]

Expenses scandal

On 12 May 2009, The Daily Telegraph reported that Clarke had "flipped" his council tax. He had told the Parliamentary authorities that his main home was in his Rushcliffe constituency, enabling him to claim a second homes allowance on his London home and leaving the taxpayer to foot the bill for the council tax due on that property. However, he told Rushcliffe Borough Council in Nottinghamshire that he spent so little time at his constituency address that his wife Gillian should qualify for a 25% council tax (single person’s) discount, saving the former chancellor around £650 per year. Land registry records showed that Clarke did not have a mortgage on his home in Nottinghamshire, where he has lived since 1987. He instead held a mortgage on his London house, which he had most recently charged to the taxpayer at £480 per month.[16]

Corporate and other work

While a backbencher and shadow cabinet minister, Clarke took a number of non-executive directorships:

  • Deputy Chairman and a director of British American Tobacco (BAT) (1998–2007), for which Clarke faced allegations relating to activities of BAT in lobbying the developing world to reject stronger health warnings on cigarette packets and evidence that that corporation had been involved in smuggling and targeting children with advertisements.[17][18]
  • Deputy Chairman of Alliance Unichem
  • Chairman (non-executive) of Unichem
  • Director of Foreign & Colonial Investment Trust
  • Member from June 2007 of the Advisory Board of Centaurus Capital, a London based hedge fund management company.[19]
  • Clarke is a member of the advisory board of Agcapita Farmland Investment Partnership,[20] a Canadian farmland investment fund.
  • Director (non-executive) of Independent News and Media (UK).[21]
  • Participant at the annual meeting of the Bilderberg Group in 1993, 1998 and 2006–2008.[22][23][24][25][26]

Media work

Also while a backbencher, Clarke engaged in non-political media work.

Personal life

Clarke married Gillian Edwards, also a Cambridge graduate, in November 1964.[citation needed] They have two children—a son and a daughter.[4] He is well known for his enjoyment of cigars, jazz and motor racing.[4] He also likes birdwatching and reading political history, and is popularly known for his love of suede Hush Puppies, a brand of shoes, which have been his "trademark" since his ministerial days.[28]

He also likes watching sport. He is a supporter of Nottingham Forest and is a former President of Nottinghamshire County Cricket Club. He is currently president of Radcliffe Olympic F C. He is a keen follower of Formula One motorsport. He was involved with tobacco giant British American Tobacco's Formula One team British American Racing and has attended Grands Prix in support of the BAR team. BAR was sold to Honda in 2005.

He attended the 1966 FIFA World Cup Final and claims (with a little jest) to have been influential in persuading the man known vernacularly as "the Russian linesman" Tofik Bakhramov (who was actually from Azerbaijan), to award a goal to Geoff Hurst when the England striker had seen his shot hit the crossbar of opponents West Germany, leaving doubt as to whether the ball had crossed the line. Clarke's position in the Wembley crowd was right behind the linesman at the time, and he shouted at the official to award a goal.[29]

Clarke is a lover of Real Ale and has been a member of the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA).[30]

His wealth is estimated at over £1m.[31]


  1. ^ "Structure of the European Movement UK". 
  2. ^ Anthony, Andrew (27 March 2005). "Howard's way". London: The Guardian.,9061,1446073,00.html. Retrieved 24 September 2008. 
  3. ^ "Kenneth Clarke". 
  4. ^ a b c d e f "Contender: Kenneth Clarke". BBC. 2 August 2005. Retrieved 24 September 2008. 
  5. ^ [1]
  6. ^ "Clarke is voter favourite — poll". BBC. 5 September 2005. Retrieved 24 September 2008. 
  7. ^ "Tories round on candidate Clarke". BBC. 4 September 2005. Retrieved 24 September 2008. 
  8. ^ "UK | UK Politics | Clarke slams Cameron rights plan". BBC News. 27 June 2006. Retrieved 19 October 2009. 
  9. ^ Winnett, Robert (21 January 2009). "Ken Clarke warns Barack Obama could see David Cameron as right wing nationalist". London: Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 23 January 2009. 
  10. ^ "/ Interactive graphics – A Conservative Who’s Who". Retrieved 2010-06-19. 
  11. ^ "Election 2010 – Live coverage – General Election 2010". BBC News. Retrieved 2010-06-19. 
  12. ^ Whitehead, Tom (2010-06-30). "David Cameron insists short prison sentences to stay". London: Retrieved 2010-07-14. 
  13. ^ Clarke to drop knife jail pledge
  14. ^ Kenneth Clarke offers hope to Tory critics of European court
  15. ^ BBC 5 Live interview
  16. ^ Rayner, Gordon (12 May 2009). "MPs expenses: Ken Clarke’s council tax 'flip’". Daily Telegraph (London). Retrieved 9 April 2010. 
  17. ^ [2][dead link]
  18. ^ Monbiot, George (23 August 2005). "BAT role makes Clarke unfit for office". London: The Guardian.,,1554302,00.html. Retrieved 19 January 2009. 
  19. ^ "Hedge fund Centaurus appoints Ken Clarke as adviser". Reuters. 1 June 2007. Retrieved 24 September 2008. 
  20. ^ "Agcapita Partners LP". Retrieved 19 October 2009. 
  21. ^ "Kenneth Clarke MP". 
  22. ^ "Memorandum submitted by the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards — Complaint against Mr Kenneth Clarke". United Kingdom Parliament. 11 July 1997. "Mr Clarke subsequently explained that he and Mr Blair considered that they were attending the conference as representatives of the Government and the Opposition respectively, and stated that `I was quite confident that I was at the time meeting the rules applying to Ministers, and it did not occur to me that the new rules concerning registration could apply to this visit'." 
  23. ^ "Register of Members' Interests". United Kingdom Parliament. 
  24. ^ "His secret's out: how Georgie met Kissinger". The Evening Standard (London). 15 August 2008. p. 14. "Ken Clarke, Peter Mandelson and former mandarin Lord Kerr were also among the select group of British figures at the gathering of politicians and tycoons." 
  25. ^ Duffy, Jonathan (3 June 2004). "Bilderberg: The ultimate conspiracy theory". BBC News. Retrieved 24 September 2008. "The group, which includes luminaries such as Henry Kissinger and former UK chancellor Kenneth Clarke, does not even have a website." 
  26. ^ "Kenneth Clarke:Full register of members' interests". London: The Guardian.,,-978,00.html. Retrieved 7 May 2010. "5–8 June 2008, to Chantilly, Virginia, USA, to attend Bilderberg Conference. Hotel accommodation paid for by the conference sponsors. (I paid my travel costs.) (Registered 12 June 2008)" 
  27. ^ "Register of Members' Interests". 
  28. ^ Naughton, Philippe (14 May 2010). "Ken Clarke sheds Hush Puppies for new job". The Times (London). 
  29. ^ "Quizballs quiz 55 – questions & answers". Quizballs. Retrieved 24 September 2008. 
  30. ^ Hall, Sarah (6 August 2002). "Campaign to include women in real ale round". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 24 September 2008. 
  31. ^ Glen Owen The coalition of millionaires: 23 of the 29 member of the new cabinet are worth more than £1m... and the Lib Dems are just as wealthy as the Tories Mail on Sunday 23 May 2010

External links

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Antony Gardner
Member of Parliament for Rushcliffe
Preceded by
Norman Tebbit
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster
Succeeded by
Tony Newton
Preceded by
John MacGregor
Secretary of State for Education and Science
Succeeded by
John Patten
as Secretary of State for Education
Preceded by
Norman Lamont
Second Lord of the Treasury
Succeeded by
Gordon Brown
Preceded by
Alan Duncan
Shadow Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills
Succeeded by
Peter Mandelson
Order of precedence in England and Wales
Preceded by
Rowan Williams
as Archbishop of Canterbury
as Lord Chancellor
Succeeded by
John Sentamu
as Archbishop of York

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  • Kenneth Clarke — (* 2. Juli 1940 in West Bridgford, Nottingham) ist ein britischer Politiker der Conservative Party. Gegenwärtig bekleidet er das Amt des Lordkanzlers und Justizministers. Leben Nach seiner Schulzeit an …   Deutsch Wikipedia

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  • Clarke (Familienname) — Clarke ist ein englischer Familienname. Herkunft und Bedeutung Der Name ist eine Variante von Clark (neuenglisch clerk) und entspricht damit in etwa dem deutschen Namen Schreiber. Varianten Clark, Clerke Bekannte Namensträger Inhaltsverzeichnis A …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Clarke — Family name A scribe or clerk, the occupation from which the name derives Meaning Clerk, scribe, secretary …   Wikipedia

  • Kenneth — Origin Word/Name Scotland Kenneth is a given name. Contents …   Wikipedia

  • Kenneth — hace referencia a: John Kenneth Galbraith, economista estadounidense; Kenneth Anger, cineasta, escritor y pintor estadounidense; Kenneth Boulding, economista del Reino Unido; Kenneth Clarke, político del Reino Unido; Kenneth Branagh, actor y… …   Wikipedia Español

  • Clarke, Kenneth Harry — ▪ 1994       In May 1993, with his government in trouble and the U.K. s economy still struggling to escape recession, Prime Minister John Major (q.v.) turned to one of the most combative members of his Cabinet to restore his fortunes. He… …   Universalium

  • Clarke (surname) — This article is about surname Clarke. For other uses, see Clarke. Clarke Family name Meaning clerk Region of origin Ireland Related names Clark Clarke is an Irish surname from …   Wikipedia

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