Thoughts on politics and life from a liberal perspective

Monday, 23 March 2009

Ken Clarke - loose cannon?

Following Ken Clarke's comments at the weekend about inheritance tax (he said that fulfilling their pledge on reducing the threshold was not one of their main economic goals) Iain Dale has said that it is a minor gaffe, he should just concede so and move on.

That is fair enough as far as it goes but it does demonstrate what I referred to a couple of months ago, that he is not exactly in lock-step with the Cameron leadership.

Dale also says that Clarke was not quite up to speed with the fact that the IHT policy was actually a commitment and not just a pledge. It's not really good enough though for a senior party grandee who has been brought back to the front-bench to add weight and gravitas to not be fully up to speed with policies that he then goes onto national TV to discuss. I have heard in the past that Ken Clarke is considered to be lazy by some of his colleagues. If the Tories are serious about vying for power, they cannot allow any of their front-benchers to have the charge of being lazy sticking to them. I certainly don't think that charge could be applied to any of the Lib Dem front-bench although we of course suffer from not getting as much coverage as the other two main parties (Vince Cable excepted at the moment!).

I originally thought bringing Clarke back was a good move on Cameron's part but now I am not so sure. I suspect it will only take one or two more gaffes like this before he is sidelined.


Oranjepan said...

Or maybe Clarke is in step with Cameron... which means that Cameron, Clarke and Osborne are out of step with the vast majority of Conservative members!

Mark Reckons said...

Interest point Oranjepan. Do you think they were preparing the ground in order to ditch this commitment and are were using Clarke to test the water?

I still think it was a gaffe caused by not being properly briefed.

Oranjepan said...

This announcement was a typically reactionary response to news, so I reckon the privy council has received figures showing just how big the deficit is going to be.

The Tories plans are hopelessly inadequate because they were predicated on a growing economy, not one which is sliding deeper into recession.

Arguably Brown calculated this and has factored it in when he inflated the stimulus package, or alternatively the EU ruling that PFI debt must be included on the balance sheet has change the outlook, or possibly a combination of both and more is true.

Whichever, the divergent political and economic realities have created a dilemma for both Labour and Conservative parties as the 'tax switch' agenda has already been claimed by the LibDems!

Clegg and Cable have prepared the ground perfectly for LibDem resurgence, staking out their territory with admirable foresight, and now they are about to receive the dividends as the debate is moving noticeably in our direction.

Some plaudits are deserved, but we await whether this translates into more LibDem seats, so keep an eye on the polls.