Monday, January 19, 2009

Ken is back

Pleased to see that David Cameron has persuaded Ken Clarke to rejoin the shadow cabinet. We need to use all our best people, and Clarke is one of them.

Ken Clarke was a very successful chancellor, who took over after Black Wednesday and left an economy surging so strongly ahead that all Brown had to do was not wreck it.

I don't share Ken's views on Europe in general, and the Euro and the Lisbon treaty in particular, but the Conservative party is big enough to be able to accomodate people with a range of views. As a cabinet minister Ken Clarke was completely loyal to John Major, and I'm confident he will work with, not against, David Cameron.

The people who argue that his presence on the Tory front bench gives new Labour and the BBC an opportunity to point to Conservative splits over Europe are missing an important point - the BBC and others had already been pointing to Ken’s absence from the front bench as proof that Europe was stopping Cameron from being able to deploy his best people. (See Nick Robinson’s blog a couple of weeks ago.)

By making full use of William Hague and Ken Clarke, DC does two things: he demonstrates that he is not obsessed with Europe, and that he is confident enough and persuasive enough to get the best known figures in the party into his team without limiting it to a narrow clique.

One of the problems which successive Conservative leaders had from 1997 to 2005 was that half the party’s best known figures were not on their teams, and that the shadow cabinet was overshadowed by people on the backbenches behind them.

Instead DC is well on the way to creating a situation where the shadow cabinet looks as much like an administration as the real one.

As a poster using the name Jono said on Conservative Home, (see link at right)

"It was the right move regardless of the European thing.

There is one pillar of the whole, painstakingly constructed edifice of the Brown myth that has always been vulnerable and that is the role of Ken Clarke in creating what was sustainable economic growth. He created the ‘Golden Legacy’ that Gordon, a lesser economist all round, has destroyed. It’s a powerful narrative.

So I’m pretty sure he’s been brought back to challenge Brown, not Mandelson. He is Brown’s achilles heal and Brown knows it. Mandelson just pails. He’s the superficial, headline-grabbing, vain ex-Trot, lightweight irrelevance he has always really been. He’s outclassed.

I think Clarke (no stranger to vanity himself, but a manager like Cameron knows that) is pissed off with Brown’s boasts and he’s been given the opportunity to stick it to the pretender. And he will take that opportunity. One more for the team and a legacy secured.

He is an annoying, flawed, lazy, implausible Europhile but he is brilliant and he’s got the bit between his teeth. Which means there are going to be excellent fireworks from now until the election.

I think Brown’s life just got a lot more difficult - not least because he’s about to be held a lot more accountable for his incompetence - by someone he looks up to (not through choice).

It’s a shrewd move by the Tory leader."

Posted by: Jono

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