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Bat out of hell

Nick Robinson | 22:00 UK time, Sunday, 18 January 2009

He's back. The man the public backed to be Tory leader in 1997, 2001 and 2005 but his party rejected.

Ken Clarke is to take on the Cabinet's re-tread Peter Mandelson as Shadow Business Secretary.

The deal was done over a lunch of meatloaf at George Osborne's house yesterday. Four people were present - Clarke, Osborne, Cameron and his Chief ofStaff, Ed LLewelyn. I am assured that hard cheese and sour grapes were not on the menu.

Conservative sources say that "no-one wants Ken to undergo a false conversion on Europe". The source said "the party has a settled view on Europe and he won't try to change it". In other words Cameron and Clarke have agreed to disagree on Europe.

Before tonight's news the idea of bringing Ken Clarke back has been attacked by euro-sceptics Norman Tebbit, John Redwood and Tory donor, Stuart Wheeler.

Mr Clarke's pro European views - in particular, his support for Britain scrapping the pound and joining the Euro - have alienated him from the mainstream of his party.

The issue of Europe is still a live one since some now argue that the current economic crisis demonstrates the case for the Euro.

Also, the Tories are opposed to the Lisbon EU Treaty which Clarke has backed and they are committed to holding a referendum on it which could lead to a Cameron-led government Britain re-negotiating Britain's relationship with the EU.

Comments

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  • Comment number 1.

    Nick for a political jornalist it strikes me you don't seem to know much about how parliment works. Clarke will not be "taking on" Mandleson, as they are in different houses! Unless that is Clarke is about to be made a Lord! The closet they will ever come is if Clarke does some Cameron style grandstanding and has a press conferance at the same time as Mandleson!

    And what will Clarke do anyway? He can't suggest working with Europe as his boss wouldn't like that, he can't bash the VAT cut, as he proposed and backed it! So unless there is about to be a major shift in Tory policy this is simply a head-line grabbing appointment that Cameron is desperatly hoping will increase his poll lead.

  • Comment number 2.

    How long before he has to go because of a dispute over Europe especially given the level of trade the UK has with Europe?

    How can he comment on the UK joining the Euro or how the £-€ rate compares and what the recent fall means before there are arguments in the party.

    This shows more about Camerons lack of judgement that Clarkes

  • Comment number 3.

    Nick - this sounds fun - maybe Mr Cameron can keep the Euro-sceptics out of the media for 5 minutes?

    Of course maybe Mr Clarke and Lord Mandelson can plot for Britain to join the Euro - LOL. Not only do we have funny economics but now funny politics.

  • Comment number 4.

    Without a doubt Labour and the Conservatives are gearing up for an election that is to be the most exciting we have seen for many years.

  • Comment number 5.

    As expected; Europe : Europe: Europe.

    How about notes on the man who as Chancellor left the UK finances in such a good state that it took Gordon Brown 11 years to ruin them?

  • Comment number 6.

    This is risky for Osborne, who has struggled to maintain a high profile anyway. Ken's mix of experience and popular support could make Osborne seem callow and aloof.

  • Comment number 7.

    There is no way I would have suppored his return - but now it is done.

    I just hope his pro-eu posiiton doesn't cause him to pull-punches when dealing with the prince of darkness.

    It is for him to prove himself - I hope he does.

    - With brown following a scortched earth policy on this country we need strong people to minimise the damage he does before he goes.

  • Comment number 8.

    "The deal was done over a lunch of meatloaf at George Osborne's house yesterday."

    That doesn't surprise me, they are both Bilderberg Group members...

    Why don't you write about that fact Nick?

  • Comment number 9.

    Of course it is also somewhat embarassing that he supported the government's VAT reduction, which Cameron has dismissed with such contempt.

    I have to say that I am all in favour. Having watched Mandy's virtuoso performance before the Select Committee last week, when his laid back style and demolition of his critics reminded me very much of Ken, it will be fascinating to see them going head to head. Just a pity that Mandy isn't in the Commons, where I suspect that the government will have to bring in somebody rather more fleet-footed than the present Minister (whose name escapes me, which might mean something in itself).

  • Comment number 10.

    laughingdevil: You're making the incorrect assumption that politics happens in the chambers at the Palace of Westminster.

  • Comment number 11.

    They want him, they need him, but there ain't no way they're ever gonna love him?

  • Comment number 12.

    Dear Ken - 68 and still in the thick of it! Yes he may have different views from some of his colleagues - I though 'diversity of thought' was always good in difficult times - it allows you to see and evaluate a broader approach to difficulties - well done David Cameron for being brave enough to bring someone like Ken back into the front line. There is no substitute for hard bitten experience and a pragmatic approach. And perhaps the most refreshing thing is that Ken is of my generation too! Sometimes we 60 somethings get fed up with the younger and less experienced members of society and politics claiming they know all the answers. Well I for one reckon we have been where we are today at least 3 other times in my working life (since 1963) - so welcome back Ken - go out and kick some young butt and be as outspoken and as grumpy as you like with those young useless wipper snappers like Darling and Mandy - and especially Brown, the man who single handedly squandered the excellent financial position you left us with in 1997

  • Comment number 13.

    #1 laughingdevil says "Nick for a political jornalist it strikes me you don't seem to know much about how parliment works. Clarke will not be "taking on" Mandleson, as they are in different houses!"

    Nick knows exactly how Parliament works under New Labour - or at least politics ie the media matters, the House of Commons doesn't.

    Say what you like about Mandy. he has been a ( the ?) leading light for Labour since his return, without setting foot in the HoC - except in the public gallery.

    Your points about Clark's "previous" on Europe and the VAT cut are more valid and certainly he will be targetted by Labour and his appointment is a risk for Cameron. That said, he is a heavyweight politician and comes across as human and down to earth.

    On balance, I think he will effective - in shadowing Mandy in the media and baiting Brown in the House.

  • Comment number 14.

    Hey! you took the words right out of my mouth, EUROPE! O'

    Dont be sad George two out of three aint bad.


    Well! Ken remembers everything as if it was only yesterday' standing with the knife and there was only thatcher in sight.

    Now the chilli European winds are blowing down westmister again and the conservative back benchers are crying Icicles in stead of tears! O' ooo' O'

  • Comment number 15.

    I am fascinated by politics and this appointment by Cameron is either brilliant or desperate. I vote Tory but even I can see they've struggled with this financial crisis. Ken Clarke is one of my favourite politicians. Straight talking, funny, experienced, Tory - Shame he's so Pro-Europe. From what I've heard he was a good chancellor - granted I'm too young to remember - but hopefully his return will help the Tories improve their lead over Labour in the polls. Brown can't be allowed to play the hero when it's quite clear he's caused most of the financial mess himself. Also, Ken Clarke retracted his VAT cut comments - something the PM will never do, even though the policy has failed and will continue to fail.

  • Comment number 16.

    I can imagine Osborne and even Dave C being closet Meatloaf groupies, but isn't Ken Clarke more into jazz? :-)

    It doesn't much matter what policies Ken suppported or didn't support last week. There will be an increasingly panic-stricken raft of U-turns from the Flash Darling spin factory over the coming weeks and months, as their various world-saving adventures unravel. The Tories won't need any policies for a while - just a willingness to fight in the gutter, since that's the only place left for government to try to defend itself.

    I reckon Ken is up for that sort of brawling. Honest Dave and his sidekick Osborne can show up again to clean the Labour bloodstains off the carpet, after Ken's finished mauling them.

  • Comment number 17.

    #8 wanabee07 wrote:

    "The deal was done over a lunch of meatloaf at George Osborne's house yesterday."

    That doesn't surprise me, they are both Bilderberg Group members...

    Why don't you write about that fact Nick?

    -----------------

    Yeah, Nick, and mention that Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, Ed Balls, Harold Wilson, James Callaghan, Roy Hattersley, Hugh Gaitskell and Denis Healey were all invited attendees and lots of disparate folk seem to have popped up in this peculiar feeding group.

    So what?

    If you want to imagine world-domination conspiracy, just go back and read Dan Brown's novels.

    Absolute rubbish, but for about 5 minutes as you drift off to sleep, it's enough to prove that your own imagination is at least as good as theirs...

  • Comment number 18.

    Ken Clarke is a big hitter, popular with the public and knowledgable about economics. He is also, according his own side, lazy, and too pro European for most in his party.

    He has also never been forgiven by many Tories for his role in getting rid of Thatcher. His brawling ability may well be what the Toriies need - the risk is that he won't be able to resist brawling with his own side, many of whom he clearly holds in contempt.

  • Comment number 19.

    It is interesting to see that, at a time when we should be focusing all our energies in Britain, the old ghosts come back to talk about Europe, Europe, Europe.

    This is a time of great danger, but also a time of great opportunity. We have huge energies that are being set free by unemployment. All we need is somebody able and willing to channel those energies in the right direction.

    Companies and countries go under and are going under because they do not have the flexibility and the capacity to think out of the box, because everybody seem to be following and implementing the same recipes.

    Woolworths is perhaps one of the best examples. They had an outdated business model and were stuck on their ways.

    We should forget about Europe and the Euro and look around to see the many things that in this country need to be done and are not done and I am certain that doing everyday things that need to be done we will find our way out of the recession.

    Instead of producing massive numbers of University graduates that are virtually unemployable we should be focusing on the professions that we trully need.

    A big crisis is a wonderful opportunity for meaningful change. I hope we do not waste this opportunity by calling back the old and failed magicians.

  • Comment number 20.

    But you wont do that! take a look.


    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/European_Union

  • Comment number 21.

    I'll wager Mandelson is happy to be in the Lords - Clarke would eat him for breakfast if he was in the Commons.

  • Comment number 22.

    I heard a rather stupid question on the radio, when it was asked what type of dog Obama would be bringing to the White House. Well, our dear boy David Cameron isn't even in Number 10 yet, and he is bringing in a Big Beast!

  • Comment number 23.

    I think that this speaks volumes about the fundamental difference between Cameron's lot and Brown's mob.

    At least HM Opposition have got the spherical objects to bring to the fore a seasoned campaigner who may not perfectly echo the beliefs of those around him. How refreshing is that?

    Also, Clarke is actually elected and therefore has some kind of a meaningful mandate from the people who put him in the Commons. And what does Mandleson have? Brown's patronage that means that even when Labour are hoofed out of office, we get lumbered with him in the Legislature for the rest of his / our days.

    So ask yourself, which is stranger: Mandleson coming back from the dead for a third time, with previous chapters of his political machinations conveniently swept under the carpet? Or Clarke taking his place in a Conservative front bench which is a broader church of thought than Labour under Brown could ever be?

    The constant procession of Labour's goonish, lick-spittle ministers, MPs and general toadying wannabes, some of who crow on about a supposed super-hero as a Prime Minister, has got to be the most nauseating low point of our already sullied political system.

    Generally, I thought that if Superman did a job, it stayed done. Yet, Super-Brown sinks billions into the banks just a few months ago, bleats on and on about it and how much of a great job he has done, and then, unbelievably, has to do it all over again.

    What was the real name of the real Superman? Doesn't that have a Clarke in it... ;-)


  • Comment number 24.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 25.

    "The issue of Europe is still a live one since some now argue that the current economic crisis demonstrates the case for the Euro."

    What, the economic crisis IN MEMBER COUNTRIES demonstrates the case for signing up for what caused their crises?

    This is such an illogical comment that I really don't understand it - and I've tried hard. Let's put aside all considerations of rhetoric, pathos and idealism; let's focus on fact and instead agree that we're in no hurry to become the next member of the PIGS.

    PIGS (Portugal, Italy-and-Ireland, Greece and Spain) countries all desperately want to cut interest rates and/or devalue their currency, but rather than being allowed to do this (they are handcuffed by Euro membership), instead they are quietly accumulating liabilities on Germany's balance sheet. When the German people wake up to this, who knows what the consequences will be but it's a safe bet it won't be pretty.

    So our Eurocrats in Brussels are cultivating riots and potentially revolts, whilst risking stoking nationalist sentiment in Germany. The ever-closer union that was initially sold to the public as the only way to prevent war is now actually in the opposite direction, and it terrifies the life out of me.

    If you've ever run a company, or managed people in a bottom-line business, and witnessed an internecine argument over money you will know for sure that this is what's brewing.

    If you haven't, then you'll continue to believe in these idealistic theoretical platitudes about how the Euro can solve all ills.

    Ultimately high-flows ideals run aground on the rocks of reality.

    We are entering a genuinely scary chapter in world events where we risk geopolitical consequences of the gravest magnitude.

    I'm scared.

  • Comment number 26.

    I'm not convinced Ken Clarke has a "team player" ethic, but his return is most welcome. Frankly, political aficionados can forget any utterances of value from Alistair Darling and George Osborne. Darling has always tacitly been undermined by Golem. In a period of enormous economic/financial upheaval, Osborne is too lightweight in his present role for his opinions to be taken seriously. Ken Clarke is a huge asset to a potential government in waiting.

    Don't forget, Golem Brown took the credit, as is his wont, for the achievements in goverment of Ken Clarke and then proceeded to p*ss them all up the wall, which is where we are now. David Cameron could do considerably worse than hold out an olive branch to the honorable member for Haltemprice and Howden. With these two back on board, (Clarke and Davis), the Conservative Party acquires voices of reason and experience. Compare and contrast to the incumbents, lurching from one crisis to the next winging it, (badly), as they go.

    In conclusion, a brave move by Cameron but his line up approaching a likely General Election isn't quite complete.

  • Comment number 27.

    Kenneth Clarke - this is the man who for the first few years of the Labour government pointed out that the economy was doing well basically because Gordon was following his plan.

    Then, when it was obvious that the economy had been blown apart in the 80s and 90s and was living on borrowed time, turned face and said it was all Browns fault.

    Between that and selling cigarettes to Africa, he is perfect Tory front bench stuff I would say.

    Though, at least he is pro-European.

    However, I notice that over the last couple of years that he has tried to be both Pro Europe and anti Europe all at the same time, by saying he agrees with his party that Europe is badly run.

    Mr. Clarke, exactly how many times can you spin round and round and round?

  • Comment number 28.

    brilliant to see ken clarke back in front line politics.
    he left brown one of the best set of books for an outgoing government in history!

    the only "experience" on the labour benches is with those who have failed us for the past decade, cant wait to see labour quote their usual unbalanced statistics in parliament now, clarke will just laugh at them.

    i dont care if i disagree with his pro european stance, unlike labour it would appear that the conservatives have a broad range of views amongst their party, a refreshing change from a government who say one thing to the public then vote the exact opposite when it comes to parliament.

    im glad he is back, we need more experienced people on the front benches on both sides, too many "young" pretenders who are too scared to voice their opinion or a clue what they are doing!

  • Comment number 29.

    Ken Clarke - the only Tory you can actually like.

  • Comment number 30.

    Most of you agree Ken is fantastic.

    But then wonder at him for...liking Europe.

    On the one hand he is such a clever man. And on the other, he has got it so wrong ways round.

    If he's an idiot over Europe, but not an idiot over everything else....doesn't add up, does it?

    Perhaps there is a message in there....?

  • Comment number 31.

    I'm not convinced Ken Clarke has a "team player" ethic, but his return is most welcome. Frankly, political aficionados can forget any utterances of value from Alistair Darling and George Osborne. Darling has always tacitly been undermined by Golem. In a period of enormous economic/financial upheaval, Osborne is too lightweight in his present role for his opinions to be taken seriously. Ken Clarke is a huge asset to a potential government in waiting.

    Don't forget, Golem Brown took the credit, as is his wont, for the achievements in goverment of Ken Clarke and then proceeded to waste the legacy which is where we are now. David Cameron could do considerably worse than hold out an olive branch to the honorable member for Haltemprice and Howden. With these two back on board, (Clarke and Davis), the Conservative Party acquires voices of reason and experience. Compare and contrast to the incumbents, lurching from one crisis to the next winging it, (badly), as they go.

    In conclusion, a brave move by Cameron but his line up approaching a likely General Election isn't quite complete.

  • Comment number 32.

    Nick,

    Oh yeah and like there is agreement in the labour party with regard to the part privitisation of the Royal Mail. Like there is total agreement in the labour party over the third Heathrow runway. Like there is total labour agreement over the Trident problem. The nationalisation of the banks which is not a nationalisation as most people understand it. The roads expansion under Hoon etc...the disagreements over the War on Terror quote from Milliband, the devaluation of the pound, the Lisbon non referendum, you mean that all labour MPs are content with the breach of trust over the referendum, particularly the ones who will have to go the electorate saying how they broke a manifesto pledge.

    But worst of all there is not unity over the continued occupation of Iraq and what is happening in Afghanistan, there can't be if there is any morality left in the labour party.

    So come on Nick you are going to have to learn a lesson. You are going to have to enter the real world when labour loses the spring election,in fact you are going to have to enter my world, the world of the unemployed, like so many other supporters of labour.

  • Comment number 33.

    What's your point 'wanabee07'? I looked up the Bilderberg Group via Google and lo and behold DENNIS HEALY was a FOUNDER MEMBER! So why the snide?

  • Comment number 34.

    Hi Nick,

    At least part of Ken's Europhile leanings has been defused by events - the Single Currency.

    Although Ken has been all for entering the Eurozone up until now, he would never call for it when the GBP and Euro are hovering near parity - it would be financial suicide to enter now, since the initial exchange rate at the point of entry would be so bad.

    I do think it a good tactic of Cameron to bring him back (sufficient to outweigh the risks). Ken a big gun, well-known by the public, and very good at making reasonable, sticky points in dialogue. But, between Ken and Lord Mandy, who do you think would be the one less likely to make the flesh crawl?

    It's just a pity our ennobled Business Secretary is unelected, otherwise we would be able to see them clash in the Commons. Instead, it will be the clash of press releases and leaks.

    See you in the pub.

  • Comment number 35.

    BTW, Nick - please pass this on...

    The BBC article

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/7836654.stm

    states:

    "His [Clarke's] appointment coincided with a boost to Labour's previously flagging poll ratings."

    Seems an odd claim to make when the appointment took place on the day that the Tories saw their lead over Labour double in the last month.

    Shurely shome mishtake.

  • Comment number 36.

    #18 stevenpalmer

    You say "Ken Clarke is a big hitter". This is true, although perhaps not quite in the same sense as John 'Biffer' Prescott.

    You say: "the risk is that he won't be able to resist brawling with his own side"

    The Euro question is now hopefully dead in the water, so I doubt this will be an issue. KC is certainly a 'big gun', but everyone realises that loose cannons get fired.

  • Comment number 37.

    Nice to see an appointment based upon proven ability rather than cronyism.

    As to the Europe question, I do alot of work in Europe and can fully understand his views. However, given the dire state of the UKs finances then the Euro is the last thing we need right now. IMHO the pound will have to fall well below 1 Euro in the next few years to give the economy the chance to get going again. Once it comes back above 1 Euro, then's the time to think about joining.

    As for the lisbon treaty, I would welcome a UK referendum on it - I believe it's called democracy. Too many other EU countries seem determined to stuff it down the populaces throats regardless of whether it's wanted or not.

  • Comment number 38.

    Dear Nick,

    Well done there, another good story reported dead at night, do you not sleep?.

    Shame you missed that little non-story of a YouGov poll putting (Useless)Tories way ahead of (Za)Nu(Improved)Labour, but you are busy these days.

    Will you be reporting/commeting on the political impact of the EU report into debt of member countries? Or are you off somewhere important?

    Xxxx
    ps
    How is Big Ken taking on Mandyson? Is Ken about to become Lord Kenneth of Rushcliffe?

  • Comment number 39.

    Last week we were told that super euro skeptic William Hague who was parked out at Foreign Affairs by the Cameroon (which DC is not really interested in) is now back as a NuCon star. This week Ken Clarke super euro enthusiast returns from retirement (an OldCon?). Does anyone believe that either can keep their mouths zipped while a debate about actually joining the Euro Zone rumbles on in the backgound. Surely Ken rather from battling Mandelson, actually agrees with him! And Nick are you sure George was not serving humble pie at lunch.

  • Comment number 40.

    This surely just underlines the poor job done by Osborne over the financial crisis. Muddled, fumbling and out of his depth he hasn't given the Tories any clear voice or constructive ideas. Bringing Clarke back is a good idea, but Cameron has part fudged it, and we still don't have a credible prospective chancellor in the opposition. Never mind the election and politicial requirements, the country needs a competent voice in the shadow cabinet on financial matters - which has to date only come from Vince Cable. But has Cameron got the leadership qualities to reshuffle his mate?

  • Comment number 41.

    Nick
    The question of Britain joining the Euro is irrelevant as the Euro itself is under great strain and could well break up. The next economic crisis will be when the German electorate wake up to the realisation that their economy will have to carry the economies of Spain Portugal Italy and Greece and that will only be done by impoverishing the German taxpayers. I cannot see it happening.

  • Comment number 42.

    @37 agc3167 wrote:

    "IMHO the pound will have to fall well below 1 Euro in the next few years to give the economy the chance to get going again. Once it comes back above 1 Euro, then's the time to think about joining."

    I think you have this the wrong way around. Joe Public will find out just how bad the currency situation is in the UK when he travels to the Eurozone for his holiday this summer (assuming he can still afford to go).

    Effectively, everything in Europe has become 50% more expensive. Switching to the Euro at parity would make that effective increase a permanent one.

    We should be entering at about !.50/1.00.

    Doesn't matter anyway, since the economy is in such ruins that the UK would not qualify for entry.

  • Comment number 43.

    I am sure the team D.C announces today will prove to be a refreshingly invigorated team to salvage what is left of our country.

    Ken Clarke will be part of that team and blend in seamlessly. It is time for change and this team will bring hope and confidence back to the UK.

    The sooner there is a General Election the better.

  • Comment number 44.

    Dear Nick,

    Forgot to add that little non-story which is highly non-important and not to be reported because it does not mean much at all, but..

    What is your (HP)sources thoughts on that little fact that MP's will now not disclosed any expense details because they are about to change the FOI act to EXEMPT them! This change will take effect 24hrs after they pass it.

    My question is though, if they can move this fast over a minor irrelevance how efficient could this Government be if it really tried?

    Or is it a case of pigs, trough, own skins etc, etc.

    Xxxx

  • Comment number 45.

    I think this demonstrates Cameron's desire for balance on his front bench, which can only be a good thing. Although I class myself as a Euro-sceptic I'd be lying if I didn't think Clarke's experience would be an asset. Increasingly now the Tories are starting to look like a government whilst Labour are increasingly looking desperate - there's not one cabinet member who was first choice for their job any more and I can't think of any of them I'd describe as remotely competant.

    Roll on the election!

  • Comment number 46.

    #42 Common-Scents

    I believe the natural level for the pound was ca 1.25 Euros. Whether it can regain that in the next few years is debatable. Ireland and Spain will tend to drag the Euro down in the short term but the strength of the big Eurozone economies should see the Euro stronger than the pound (which currently lacks fundamentals).

    In any case, with the UK economy in such a mess HMG needs the freedom to set the UK interest and tax rates seperate from the Eurozone. It would however be nice if they could take advantage of that in a way designed to strengthen the economy rather than devalue the currency.

  • Comment number 47.

    I quite like Ken Clarke, he's one of a few politicians who speak their mind openly. It's good to see him in a front bench position even though he is widely outspoken over Europe and his position is often at odds with the party

    The whole Europe argument is a bit overdone though, who cares if he has different views? You can ask 10 random people in the street and get 10 different views. I don't care a jot that he doesn't agree with the policiy of the party - he's entitled to his opinions

    I think he will do a good job and will be outspoken. We need more of this in politics. I do think realisticaly he should have taken the shadow chancellors role - no-one can argue that he's not qualified! I can't see Mr. Cameron shuffling his mate though, he's not strong enough to do it

    I think the change will be refreshing, at least the tories are willing to openly accept that you can have differing views and still get the job done (hopefuly!) No-one needs to kow tow to the leader and grovel as seems to be the case for labour

  • Comment number 48.

    I fear that Cameron may have fallen into a Labour trap.

    Mandleson now has a background of supporting and interacting with our EU partners, plus the pound is virtually at parity with the euro.

    What happens if the Labour party start espousing the idea that membership of the Euro is our saviour from financial doom? How will Cameron and Clarke square their differences on that subject?

    The Conservatives will simply implode.

    So, is this the Conservatives falling for Labour's ploy to make Europe and not the economy the battleground for the next election?

    Only time will tell.

    Welcome to Mandleson's machiavellian world.

    By the way, did anyone spot Margaret Beckett's bit about "a bit of an upturn"? What did I say a few days ago about Labour talking up the economy? There'll be more, mark my words.

  • Comment number 49.

    Another person with intelligence and integrity to futher strengthen the Conservatives' hand.

    There is hope for the UK yet.

    Well done Cameron et al.

  • Comment number 50.

    Ken Clarke's return to frontline politics is well overdue, it's just a shame that he hasn't been appointed Shadow Chancellor.
    Nevertheless he is one Tory that Labour really do fear, Ken will no doubt give Brown and Mandelson constant nightmares between now and the next election.
    Politics just got interesting again.

  • Comment number 51.

    #48 delphius1

    I seem to remember an ex-chancellor, one G. Brown, proclaiming that the UK would only join the Euro when certain, well defined, criteria had been met. Apart from No1 (EVERYONE is going into recession) we are currently further from fulfilling these criteria than at any time since the 70s:

    http://www.economicshelp.org/2007/03/gordon-browns-5-economic-test-for.html

    Especially relevant is No2 considering the spendaholic behaviour of HMG at the moment.

    Perhaps a re-run of afew of this chancellors sound bytes over the years would make a superb conservative election campaign.

  • Comment number 52.

    They way things are going with Brown selling us and our children and our grandchildren into slavery - I am not sure the country will be able to afford a general election. Maybe we will use the new £1Trillion note as voting slips.

    Capitalism RELIES on the weak going bust - this clears the field for the fit - bad banks should have folded - compensating savers would have been CHEAP.

    Brown - the stupid socialist oaf - just doesn't get it - he props up failures ensuring that the fit cannot prosper -draging every one down.

    A double whammy.

    The gross and obvious incompetence of browns labour government means that the tories could have myra hindly, denis neilson, peter sutcliff in the shadow cabinet (adolf may be one too far) and still win.

  • Comment number 53.

    @48 delphius1 wrote:

    "What happens if the Labour party start espousing the idea that membership of the Euro is our saviour from financial doom?"

    As I said in #34, to recommend entry into the Euro at this time would be political suicide (can you actually commit suicide more than once?) since it would effectively be devaluing the Pound.

    I think the real trap was set for DC to name Ken as Chancellor, but DC saw it coming (the economic crisis is being fought by Brown/Cameron, not Darling/Osborne). Instead, we will have a Shadow Business Secretary beating the drum in the Commons, without the Government's minister present! How good does that look?

    So I think a little reverse psychology at play here.

  • Comment number 54.

    Ken Clarke's return can only be a good thing for the Conservatives. Hopefully now they will grasp the nettle and be a much stronger team.

    I watched Mr Darling trying to justify Labour's second bank bail out this morning on the TV. He was stuttering and looked very uncomfortable as he told us how this was certain to make the banks lend us, and each other, money. Not a very convincing performance!





  • Comment number 55.

    Ken Clarke is possibly the best PM we've never had. His stewardship of the mid-nineties economy was little short of brilliant, he is a well rounded human being, oblivious to 'celebrity culture' and no great lover of the City.
    What a contrast to Mandy!

    I look forward to some interesting exchanges in the media. Shame we won't see them in the House.

  • Comment number 56.

    I would like to see Mandy and Clarke on 'Gladiators'.....in Lycra

  • Comment number 57.

    Nick

    Ken Clarkes is back good he knows how to bring the British economy out of recession soundly having done it and handed it over to Brown.

    But the real elephant in the room today is the total failure of the Governments bailout and stimulus policies to work. At what cost?

    Before handing billions of tax payer’s money over to the banks for the bailout they did not do the most basic due diligence check as to how risky the bank’s balance sheets were.

    We now have to mortgage the country to the hilt to sure up the banks to create an insurance scheme.

    Seeing that no one else seems to know what questions to ask here are some.

    WHAT IS THE TOTAL LEVEL OF TOXIC DEBT WE ARE UNDERWRITING?

    CAN WE AFFORD TO DO IT?
    WHAT IS THE TOTAL DEBT POSTITION OF ALL GOVERNMENT DEBTS & LIABILITIES OVER THE NEXT 10 YEARS?

    WILL THE BOND MARKETS KEEP BUYING OUR DEBT IF THEY SEE THE SUMS DONT ADD UP?

    Also I believe that no one in this government has any idea what there are doing. Beckett yesterday said that first time buyers in the housing market could miss out on the next boom if they don't act now.
    The day before the government pushes all of our remaining chip on black to try to get the banks to lend.

    The people who are coming up with these new wheezes’ are the same faces in the government and the banks that got us in to the mess. If they had any integrity they would resign.
    Someone respond to this with any forecast on the economy that Brown and Darling have got right.
    They can never produce to right policies if their forecasts are always so wide of the mark. I give you the PBR a total joke.
    We need a new government ASAP
    And it must not be Labour.
    Vote for anyone else but Labour.

  • Comment number 58.

    Nick
    what is tomorrows headless chicken announcement and how many billions will it cost?

  • Comment number 59.

    I think the tories now have a team that can win an election, under Cameron they've learnt to be an opposition which Labour did under Blair. Consequently, I think they will manage to avoid the whole Europe issue.

    I'm not sure Labour wants an argument over Europe at the next election anyway. Given Brown's previous position it could come over as more evidence of his failure as Chancellor / Prime minister that after ditching "prudence" etc, he then ditches the 5 criteria for entering the Euro.

    Hague and Clarke are seriously big hitters and if they can unite against Labour they will be difficult to beat.

    Their real problems will begin when they have to form a government - they may well out perform Cameron and certainly Osborne and with Boris waiting in the wings as well it will be make very interesting times for David Cameron.

  • Comment number 60.

    #27 Gurubear

    There are no double standards in Ken Clarke's position in any of the issues you list.

    Your first scenario summarises perfectly many people's view over Gordon Brown's handling of the economy - merely that when sticking to the Tory spending plans we had a budget surplus and debt was repaid - since 2001 the Labour Government has led the economy on an unsustainable debt binge that has helped get us into this mess.

    It is also perfectly possible to be pro-europe and despair over how the EU is operating.

  • Comment number 61.

    #5 (and others): Gordon Brown caused the collapse of the American sub-prime market.

    #25: The existence of the Euro caused the collapse of the American sub-prime market.

    We may disagree over small details like these, but I think we can all agree that had the Conservatives been in power over the last ten years, there would have been much tighter controls on the free market, and stronger financial regulation.

    Or would there?

  • Comment number 62.

    Don't know how he will turn out if DC gets in. On the positive side, he is a man, no questions there. He speaks English fluently, and appears to represent Middle England. He certainly has a very good choice regarding jazz, and must be better than some of the greaseballs on the political scene today.

  • Comment number 63.

    Nick

    2 questions for you to ask

    1. How much Toxic debt do the banks have on their books?
    I think we need to know this as we are now underwriting it.

    2. How much Toxic debt has the Government run up both Enron off balance sheet and on balance sheets profligate spending?

    Gordon Brown is angry with the banks due to their accounting practices and not knowing the amount of toxic assets they have. Yet he is shovelling more of our money their way still not knowing how much toxic debt they have.
    Brown is a hypocrite as he does not know how much toxic debt he is running up for us and future generations.

  • Comment number 64.

    Where are the Opinion Polls when you need them?

  • Comment number 65.

    Seems the Tories are starting to take my advice...

    Osborne calls for action
    4:46pm on 10 Jan 2009
    214 + 217
    "And if pre-97 is history, and irrelevent, it must be because you want to forget it.....well remember that the one Tory who had any sense,pre 97 , the one you knocked back for ShamCam, ie Clarke, borrowed and spent his way out of recession and we are all grateful to him for that...but you have whitewashed away the fact that monetarist nonsense caused more harm than good and even you guys realised that after a while !
    No , Georgie has been told by his masters that all this talk of savage spending cuts, his inertia and his let's watch the economy bleed to death approach.... this whole approach is a no-goer and he is trying to backpeddle his way back to reality.
    At least we didn't have to endure him as Chancellor this year.Can you imagine the carnage which would have ensued?
    Georgie's Christmas panto exploits were enough for anyone to bear!"

  • Comment number 66.

    Ken's return reminds me of that Churchill drama-doc, 'The Gathering Storm'.

    The bit at the end, when Churchill's made First Sea Lord again and the signal goes out "Winston's Back" to the ships who all start their claxons in response to the good news... "whoop, whoop, whoop!" Great news for Britain.



  • Comment number 67.

    P.S. And Ken Clarke is an elected MP, unlike Mandelson.

  • Comment number 68.

    "If he's an idiot over Europe, but not an idiot over everything else....doesn't add up, does it?"

    I this this sums it up really.

    Clarke is cleverer than all you little-England Eurosceptics out there, and it hasn't once crossed your closed-minds that he is right and you are wrong.

    The European Union has its faults, but it has bought great benefits to Europe, and you only have to look at the policitcal/economic/ethnic history of Europe pre-EU to see that.

    Withdrawl from the EU would be extremely damaging to the UK, but thankfully it will never happen. More worryingly, a Tory government with a Eurosceptic bent will simply reduce the UK impact in Europe, without actually delivering any benefits to us.

    The UK would be much stronger if the Tories imbraced Europe (like Ken) and tried to make it work for us, rather than taking the Heads-in-the-sand approach of Tebbit, which served us oh so well during the last years of Major.

  • Comment number 69.

    @55

    spot on!

  • Comment number 70.

    # 33 badsworthboy

    Thanks for taking the time to look up 'The Bilderberg Group' on Google, I wish more people would take the time to do so.

    I think the question here is why elected representatives of ours meet in secret with no public record of what is said or agreed upon.

    What this groups agenda is and if following this agenda is more important than expressing the views of their constituents.
    Which, at the end of the day, is an MP's sole responsibility.

  • Comment number 71.

    Love to here Clarke's views on the smoking ban! A pro European Business minister in a xenophobic party could be fun. The man who should be leader. Excellent decision Dave.

    Let the grass roots campaigning battle commence!

  • Comment number 72.

    TV licence fee cash guarantees house prices of relocated BBC staff

    "The prices of hundreds of homes owned by BBC employees in London will be guaranteed by licence-fee payers under a relocation package aimed at enticing staff to Salford.

    Employees will also receive £5,000 in relocation expenses, up to £3,000 to pay for new carpets and curtains and will keep thousands of pounds in London weighting allowances, it emerged yesterday. The decision to use the licence fee to underwrite property values in a falling housing market has been condemned as unacceptable.

    Under the “guaranteed house purchase scheme”, employees on permanent contracts will receive up to 95 per cent of the market price for a property. The BBC will incur any loss on the price when the property is sold and will pay for solicitors' fees, surveys and stamp duty, home information packs and building society charges."

    ===

    Funny, this isn't on the BBC news website?!

    And, shouldn't the last sentencce start "We the mugs that pay the TV Licence will incur any loss on the price......"

    Green shoots indeed, but only if you work at the Beeb.

  • Comment number 73.

    Nick

    When asked about Clarkes return this morning Brown said

    'He seems more in tune with our policies.'

    On the 2.5% VAT reductions he supported it.

    First Brown deceit.
    The truth: Clarke voted against the measure because the UK economy could not afford it.

    European policy

    Second Brown deceit:
    He is closer to labour European policy
    The Truth: Mandelson is in favour of joining the euro Brown has blocked and dragged his feet all the time over joining and is clearly against it.

    How do you tell if Brown is not telling the truth?

    His mouth is opening and closing. Sometime involuntary.

  • Comment number 74.

    70. At 11:21am on 19 Jan 2009, wanabee07 wrote:
    # 33 badsworthboy

    Thanks for taking the time to look up 'The Bilderberg Group' on Google, I wish more people would take the time to do so.

    I think the question here is why elected representatives of ours meet in secret with no public record of what is said or agreed upon.

    What this groups agenda is and if following this agenda is more important than expressing the views of their constituents.
    Which, at the end of the day, is an MP's sole responsibility.

    ===

    You might want to Google "Common Purpose". You will get the same answer to your points, oh, except that CP is left-dominated.

  • Comment number 75.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 76.

    Since he probably has more idea of how to properly run the economy than Mandy and AD put together, plus a positive reception among the public (per BBC's own reporting) this looks like a shrewd move. On the issue of those who've suggested that current events show cause for joinging the Euro, be aware, they actually are exactly why we should not consider such a move. And ask yourselves what Europe, with it's central bank, has done to alleviate the situation. Answer? Nothing, it;s all be left to member states. Think on.

  • Comment number 77.

    I can sum up in two words why I will not be voting Tory at the next election: George Osborne. The similarity to his namesake in Blackadder IV is simply overwhelming. Yet, this novice, lacking any outward appearance of talent, is preferred to the wealth of Ken's experience and ample ability simply because Dave has decided that Euroscepticism is a prerequisite for being a Tory Chancellor. How fortunate we are that John Major did not share this criterion. Let us examine for a moment why differences on Europe did not prevent Ken's tenure at No 11:

    The Tory Party is nominally Eurosceptic, but Margaret Thatcher, while securing the rebate, actually took no action to reduce UK involvement in the Union.

    The Maastricht Treaty was signed by John Major, a TORY Prime Minister.

    On the other hand, the nominally Europhile Labour Party refused to take us into the Euro, and has vigorously defended its beloved "Red Lines" in treaty discussions.

    From this, I think it's fair to say that pragmatism, not principle, have led Government policy on Europe for the last 30 years. It does not take a great intellectual leap to assume that it will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.

    Therefore, throwing Ken Clarke on the scrapheap of the Tory Party for his views on Europe was a shocking waste of the man's talent and popularity, and made the party's leadership the poorer for his absence. Making him Shadow Business Secretary now is too little, too late.

    Now if he were shadowing Mr Darling, rather than Mr Mandelson...

  • Comment number 78.

    I dont see what the heck Ken Clarke's views on Europe have to do with him being Shadow Business Secretary. I am sure there are people in the Labour party who do not support Europe even though it is the party line to do so. An MP should have individual ideas or else whats the point of them, thats what democracy is for goodness sake. He believes in Conservative values and thats all thats necessary, or do we believe he could pull us into Europe on his own.

    He's there to do the job hes an expert at, and he will do a great job. He is a very honest man and we certainly need some of those in Government after Brown lot.

  • Comment number 79.

    Apologies for initially and erroneously giving Stuart Wheeler a knighthood.

  • Comment number 80.

    #79 Nick

    That will no doubt come after May 2010.

  • Comment number 81.

    Moderators

    Why has my post at #75 been referred?

  • Comment number 82.

    Re: 68

    I am a profound Eurosceptic. I am not a little Englander. In fact, my long contribution towards international, and specifically European co-operation and understanding, was recognise at a meeting last July. It was held in Switzerland

    Like so many people of your ilk you seem to think that Europe and the EU are one and the same. They are not.

    Also, like so many of your ilk, you resort to name-calling. In the course of the debate in the letters columns of my local paper I have been labelled with a good many of those names and even accused, by a Labour MP, of living on Plant Europhobe. It actually says a great deal about the dearth of reasonable arguments on the euro-enthusiasts side that they have to resort to such tactics.

  • Comment number 83.

    #82 dwwonthew wrote:

    "Re: 68
    I am a profound Eurosceptic."

    Forgive me but that sounds like you are profoundly deaf.

    No doubt that's unfair. What is it you Eurosceptics don't like about the EU anyway? Granted it has failings, but the power doesn't even lie with the European Parliament.......(sorry, Euroscepticism is just such another world!)


  • Comment number 84.

    #51

    The thing is, Gordon Brown has ditched all his fiscal rules, so who knows what the master plan is.

    I did blog elsewhere that Mandleson rejoining the government might signify a more Euro-centric government and time would tell.

    Now that they have ruined things so much the pound has nosedived against the Euro to virtual parity, theres every chance that another Labour mantra that will be chanted over the next few months is "The Euro zone will save us", "strength in numbers" or somesuch.

    2009 is shaping up to be an interesting year.

  • Comment number 85.

    Ken Clarke should not even be an MP.

    About 80% of the people of this country wanted* a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty and about 70% wanted* to say NO. I want to say something a lot more assertive than NO.

    I presume that his constituency is not a lot different from the rest of the country on that matter.

    He is only an MP because our voting system is rubbish. We do not have a functioning democracy in this country.

    His appointment shows that you cannot trust the Conservatives on the "EU". I expect to be voting for UKIP at the next Euro-elections.

    UKIP ain't perfect but they are the best we have got.



    * I have written "wanted" as that was the situation a while ago. I have not seen any recent opinion polls directly on that point, but I believe the country is now more hostile to the "EU" than it was before these shenanigans.

  • Comment number 86.

    #85 SuffolkBoy2

    Got that, but, without seeking to change your mind, why are you so anti-'Europe' - I don't get it, that's all. A lot of people think it's a bit snobby.

  • Comment number 87.

    83. At 6:03pm on 19 Jan 2009, aye_write wrote:

    "... What is it you Eurosceptics don't like about the EU anyway?..."

    I cannot answer for others, but I do believe that they agree with me and don't come out with it. They don't come out with it, I believe/suspect, because they want to be friendly with the continentals once we have left the "EU".

    It is the character of the continentals.

    I have spent a lot of time in Germany and loads of Germans have been incredibly kind to me so it is embarrassing to criticise them.


    BUT...


    I have seen an awful lot of dictatorial behaviour from a certain type of German. Not from all Germans. Not from a majority of Germans but from a substantial minority. I have seen dictatorial behaviour from Brits but much less often.

    About three years ago I was on a training course for truck drivers doing the ADR certificate, that is the certificate to allow people like me to drive sixteen tons of explosives etc.

    An argument developed during a classroom session. I was amazed at my fellow truck drivers.

    These "rough" truck drivers had loads of tattoos. They swore all the time. They cannot say "Please could you pass me the tomato sauce." They have to weave a certain swearwords into that sentence three or four times. They seem to look at loads of pornography or at least they talk as if the do. They smoke like maniacs between sessions. The food they eat is rubbish. etc.

    AND YET...

    When there was a disagreement as to the application of the rules they were incredible civilised. I have sat in meetings with German teachers and professors and they (or at least a number of them) were unable to deal with a disagreement in such a civilised manner. There were frequently people shouting at each other. This is what was going through my mind during this class session twenty years after I left Germany.

    Reports from others who know the Germans and other continentals suggest that this impression is widespread and refers not only to the Germans but to continentals in general.

    In the past five years I have only twice met anybody who admitted to being pro-"EU". I put it to one of them that all the dictatorships they have had on the continent were down to the character of the continentals expecting him to disagree. To my surprise he agreed with me. To my shame I did the very thing I criticise in others - I talked to much and did not listen enough. I should have asked him how he could be pro-"EU" given his view of the continental character. If he is reading this please would he explain it to me very slowly because I am from Suffolk.

  • Comment number 88.

    #87 SuffolkBoy2

    Thanks. As you point out, it is indeed fascinating to hear things from a neighbour's point of view.
    (That's you :-)
    From what I can tell England and Scotland tend to differ on this, or perhaps English voters seem more vocal? - no judgement supposed.)

    I had not considered your point I have to say. My only experience, and I would not be so bold as to base an definitive opinion on it, of continental Europeans is from a few summer holidays and through meeting colleagues of many different nationalities through my husband's work.

    I did see a study documentary years ago on German children suggesting they had a particular streak to their character, which placed the blame on their fathers tending towards a certain type of behaviour, apparently! However I'd be loathed to elevate that from entertainment to a basis for anything. God forbid someone picked a group of Scots and held up their behaviour for criticism! We too have 'lovely' minorities.

    So, it is the dislike of 'the possibility of being dictated to' that is effectively putting some of you off the EU? Retaining your level of self-governance is paramount? Forgive me, I am guessing. Thanks for the post.
    :-)

  • Comment number 89.

    86. At 8:50pm on 19 Jan 2009, aye_write wrote:

    "#85 SuffolkBoy2

    Got that, but, without seeking to change your mind, why are you so anti-'Europe' - I don't get it, that's all. A lot of people think it's a bit snobby."

    I am not anti-Europe. I am anti-"EU". I love Europe.

    "A lot of people think it's a bit snobby."

    "A lot"? Got any numbers?

    " .. a bit snobby" Why?

    I want friendship and co-operation, not integration. I consider the continentals do a whole load of things better than the Brits and that we should learn from them. I do not accept that I am snobby.

  • Comment number 90.

    #53

    I don't think GB's team are clever enough to do the reverse psychology thing. Old "Clunking fist" has never been that subtle.

    No, I think there will be moves to integrate us closer with Europe whether we like it or not. Watch for the "we'd be better in the Euro zone" and "The Euro zone has weathered the storm better than us, so why not be part of it" messages over the coming months.

    Labour have the habit of planting such ideas long before they ever get pushed as actual policies, until such time as public opinion moves and then before you know it, they announce a policy "in line with public opinion".

  • Comment number 91.

    #89 SuffolkBoy2

    No, of course not. It was a criticism of a summary that I had supposed. I actually thought you would already know, but I thought I'd seen it reported (on the news?) that some European politicians were said to feel that Britain thinks itself too good to fully cooperate in the EU - I admit it was from a while ago.

    Everyone can have their views - I don't mind. I go by personality.
    (No numbers!)

  • Comment number 92.

    91. At 11:07pm on 19 Jan 2009, aye_write wrote:

    "#89 SuffolkBoy2

    ... I actually thought you would already know, but I thought I'd seen it reported (on the news?) that some European politicians were said to feel that Britain thinks itself too good to fully cooperate in the EU - I admit it was from a while ago. ..."

    Enoch Powell tried to tell the Germans in German in Germany in 1968(?) that it wouldn't work but they didn't take any notice. I tried to tell Klaus Haensch (?) later president of the "EU" parliament roughly the same in a seminar at a German university in about 1978. He claims to not remember my contribution.

    When he was Chancellor, Helmut Schmidt visited London and noted that people were buying continental quilts. He linked that to the problems in the "EU" or its predecessor and claimed that in fifteen years time all the problems between Britain and the UK would be in the past. The fifteen years have long since passed. Some years ago (10?, 15?) I heard him on British radio admitting that he had given up in the Brits.

    At one time I was sleeping under a German duvet which was in a German duvet cover in German pyjamas on a German sheet on a German mattress on a German bed. I still wasn't pro-"EU".

    Germans are frequently not good listeners. I have had Germans screaming at me for mild criticism of the "EU". On one occasion I had a semi-circle of hate filled faces all screaming at me because I had dared to criticise the "EU". Just the way they deal with my criticism of the "EU" is enough to make me want not to b e in a political union with them.

    I find it very embarrassing to have to say all this. The fact is that loads and loads of Germans have been incredibly kind to me especially when I was very ill. And that includes the big-mouthed, dictatorial ones. When you are ill, they put the Brits to shame. I want to be friendly with them. I want to co-operate with them. I just don't want to be in the "EU".

    We do not have a functioning democracy in the UK. We have a sick-joke posing as a democracy. If democracy is a duck, then we have a decoy duck.

    Please would continentals throw us out of the "EU"?

  • Comment number 93.

    92 SuffolkBoy2

    Gosh, interesting. I have done a University class on the EU, its history etc., but this sort of thing doesn't pop up. Thanks, I will certainly mull this over.

    Do you suppose the Germans of whom you speak also 'want to work with' Britain but are frustrated as their approach is, it's their way or the highway? Isn't it scary how after such a long time agreements cannot be reached. I hope we Scots and English can do better!

    :-)

  • Comment number 94.

    This is completely off topic, but the tragic irony is such, I feel fellow bloggers would appreciate it. This morning, in passing, I heard on Woman's Hour" on Radio 4, about girl students being targetted by the Taliban. It appears that the Taliban in Pakistan are violently against girls studying and act against them. And all this in the SWOT VALLEY!!!!!

  • Comment number 95.

    #95
    Sorry, it is SWAT Valley

  • Comment number 96.

    93. At 10:23am on 20 Jan 2009, aye_write wrote:

    " ... Isn't it scary how after such a long time agreements cannot be reached. I hope we Scots and English can do better!"

    The foundations for this constant conflict were laid by Ted Heath who lied to the British people. Even one of the British team at the negotiations to join the Common Market (Lord Denman, Stenman??) stated on Newsnight some years ago that we had been lied to and that that was the real problem. The interviewer changed the subject - BBC pro-Eurocrumble bias.

    There is a standard line which goes "The issue of Europe has torn Britain apart for forty years."

    No! It isn't the issue of Europe which has torn Britain apart. It is lying "EU"-lovers who have torn Britain apart.

  • Comment number 97.

    #96 SuffolkBoy2

    Again, how interesting. I wasn't aware, though now it seems obvious, that English opposition to the EU, such as it is, has its roots in some past event.

    In saying

    "we had been lied to and that that was the real problem."

    I assume you are referring to

    "In April 1970, during the 1970 general election Edward Heath said that further European integration would not happen “except with the full-hearted consent of the Parliaments and peoples of the new member countries.” Despite this comment, no referendum was held when UK entered into the Common Market into 1973"

    Sounds familiar. As a Scot, I can totally understand where you are coming from.

    Given that Heath was so pro-Europe as, following his observation of the Nuremberg Trials, he saw it as a way to make future conflict between European nations very difficult if not impossible, there must have been some contradiction between that notion and the domestic effects for Britain? In which case I wonder if it achieved more in the way if a lasting opposite effect, for some.

    Anyway, I shall continue my reading. Thank you very much for your insights.

  • Comment number 98.

    Ken won't rock the boat now. But his return to front-bench politics may bring Europe back on the agenda.

    Like many Conservative party members, I take a pragmatic view of Europe. It is a good idea in principle but in order for us to back it enthusiastically, the European Commission needs root and branch reform to stamp out the pervasive corruption and nepotism that is rampant through its over-inflated and incompetent bureaucracy. one reason why the Conservative Party has split from the European People's Party is its supine attitude towards the EC. If Ken wants to win the internal debate over Europe he should realise it's a real concern for many party members.

    He also needs to explain why there is one rule for France and Germany, and another for every other country. He can't say that if we engage fully in Europe we will be heard. If that were the case, why are the interests of staunchly pro-European countries subordinated to the Paris/Berlin axis.

    The idea that the UK is on the point of joining the euro now or at some point in the future is a non-issue. The euro probably won't survive beyond June in its present form. Ken is aware of this, so we won't hear any off-message mutterings on that score.

    What the media and chattering classes discount is that Ken is a party man through and through. He always has, and always will, place the good of the party above his own ideas.

  • Comment number 99.

    25. At 00:31am on 19 Jan 2009, daringsneakybeaver wrote: "I'm scared."

    LOL! Don't be scared darnigsneakybeaver, it's only in your mind. Reality is not as scary as you think. I suggest you start reading less tabloids and maybe start following what's really going on in Brussels. You'll see it's not so evil as you think.

    The reason why the Tories are u-turning on their europhobic policy and have started considering an "ever closer union", by bring good old Ken in is that the euro-schengen deal would provide more stability to a volatile pound-isolated economy. It is in the name of the countries good. It would also enhance the City's standing for the recovery and put a break on the Scottish/Welsh/Irish centrifugal forces.

    But we know these are gimmicks, David Cameron may ride his bike to work and bring some pro-europe heavy weights... this doesn't mean he's going to do much about these topics once the gullible voters will have voted him in.

  • Comment number 100.

    Re 98. At 3:45pm on 23 Jan 2009, Webgraham001 wrote:

    "The euro probably won't survive beyond June in its present form."

    I like the europhobic mix of sense-of-humour and optimistic schadenfreude.

    So, what makes you think for the euro not to survive until June?
    Or is yours just hope? Perhaps you have a timeshare in Spain and are already dreading the idea of having to pay less than a pound for a euro?
    Well, if you do have some property in Spain, I suggest you rent it to some wealthy German/Dutch and start cashing in some euros. I'm afraid come october we'll all be needing those for your run to the local Tesco.

 

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