Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Who's afraid of the big Ken Clarke, the big Ken Clarke, the big Ken Clarke?...

Not me, I must confess? In fact, I would suggest that having Ken Clarke back on the Conservative frontbench is probably good for us.

The justification is that the Conservatives need someone with experience to take on Peter Mandelson. Hang on a minute, the noble Lord is... in the Lords, the one place where our suede shoe wearing, jazz loving Europhile can't go. And yes, he'll be up against him on television, but how many of the public actually care about business regulation? Indeed, how many Conservative shadow spokespeople in that role can most people remember?

Let's be honest here, bringing back a sixty-eight year old is hardly intended to be a long-term appointment. The prospects of Ken Clarke serving in the first Cameron cabinet are probably pretty remote, and this is simply a short-term fix intended to distract attention from the fact that there is no policy substance (still!).

He will entertain, in all likelihood, but he is a bruiser, not a strategist. You always sensed that his primary tactic as a minister was to pick a fight, and then get shuffled off to another job, leaving some other poor soul to mend fences afterwards.

From an outside perspective, his well-publicised differences with the Party leadership on the subject of Europe mean that he will be distrusted by the Eurosceptic right and by the more reactionary press (Daily Mail and Daily Telegraph). Every utterance with regard to Europe (and his portfolio is impacted by Europe more than some others) will be analysed for adherence to the 'line', and I frankly doubt his discipline.

I have to say though, he will at least be consistent, unlike his leader. Now, Mr Cameron, your policy on leaving the EPP and forming a more conservative grouping in the European Parliament. How's that going?

1 comment:

Jennie said...