Ken Clarke needs no introduction. One of the genuine 'Big Beasts' of the political scene, during his forty-six years as the Member of Parliament for Rushcliffe in Nottinghamshire he has been at the very heart of government under three prime ministers. He is a political obsessive with a personal hinterland, as well known as a Tory Wet with Europhile views as for his love of cricket, Nottingham Forest Football Club and jazz.In Kind of Blue, Clarke charts his remarkable progress from working-class scholarship boy in Nottinghamshire to high political office and the upper echelons of both his party and of government.
But Clarke is not a straightforward Conservative politician. His position on the left of the party often led Margaret Thatcher to question his true blue credentials and his passionate commitment to the European project has led many fellow Conservatives to regard him with suspicion - and cost him the leadership on no less than three occasions. Clarke has had a ringside seat in British politics for four decades and his trenchant observations and candid account of life both in and out of government will enthral readers of all political persuasions.
Vivid, witty and forthright, and taking its title not only from his politics but from his beloved Miles Davis, Kind of Blue is political memoir at its very best.
Ken Clark's reputation as a man of integrity comes across clearly in this easy-to-read factual account. It is a laudably concise and frank documentation of the political times in which he lived and worked, spanning most of the top jobs in British government, in which he uses his dry wit most readily and is measured but forthright in his criticism and praise. Occasionally, I could see why one or two commentators have said the book is a bit arrogant; however, I think KC has earned the right to sing his own praises (who else is going to?) and it has to be remembered that he undoubtedly had a massive impact on the modernisation of British political life for over thirty years. Especially interesting are his sections on being health secretary and, later, chancellor.
Certainly some commentators will merely disagree with his politics, but when it comes to a pragmatic sense of secure fiscal policy and a high degree of compassion, he is head and shoulders above most - maybe nearly all. To paraphrase Gerry Rafferty - "nutters to the left of me nutters to the right, here I am stuck in the middle with you." KC guided successive governments through those turbulent times and in this book there is much in the way of illuminating explanation.
The best prime minster we never had?-- he has a good case. - Will Mac
About the Author
Born in Nottingham in 1940, Ken Clarke was educated at Nottingham High School and Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, where he studied law and was called to the bar in 1963. In 1970, at the age of twenty-nine, he became MP for Rushcliffe in Nottinghamshire, a seat he has held ever since. He held many ministerial posts in Margaret Thatcher's Cabinet, including Secretary of State for Health and Secretary of State for Education. He subsequently served as Home Secretary and Chancellor of the Exchequer under John Major and Secretary of State for Justice and Minister without Portfolio under David Cameron. He lives in London and Nottinghamshire.