But Ken Clarke has it in abundanceby Alex Dean / December 13, 2016 / Leave a comment
Published in January 2017 issue of Prospect Magazine
After all the chin-stroking about the Brexit vote and the rise of Donald Trump, there’s only one conclusion on which everyone can agree. Rage against politicians is at an all-time high. But why? Ipsos MORI’s “Veracity Index” gives us a valuable clue. It rates trust in different professions, and politicians come out bottom of the pile. A mere 15 per cent of Brits believe what they say—that’s six points down on their appalling score last year. Voters think those they elect are liars.
Mainstream politicians are acutely aware of this—and desperate to change it. Centrist Labour MPs and moderate Tories alike watch on in baffled envy, as they see Jeremy Corbyn to the left and Nigel Farage on the right inspire their own ends of the spectrum. Most of them haven’t inspired anybody in years. Whether they rely on spin doctors or not, their cautious talk comes out sounding like pre-cooked “lines to take.” The public closes its ears, and the great virtue of our age—authenticity—becomes the preserve of people who take such strident positions that nobody can accuse them of failing to speak their mind.
Ken Clarke is the last living link with the era when moderate voices would speak with their guards down. Like his fellow former chancellor—the late great Denis Healey—he has a knack of making his generally reasonable opinions sound offensive. Spend half an hour with the man who has represented Rushcliffe for 46 years, and you walk away with no doubt that this is a man who tells you exactly how he sees it. It’s too fashionable a word for him, but he brims with authenticity.
His CV says it all. He’s held two great offices of state, eight Cabinet posts, but never got to the top. Why n…