15 February 2010

Will Cameron make Ken Clarke Shadow Chancellor?

Continuing with our theme of the ones to watch, we need to return to Ken Clarke.  According to Margareta Pagano, there is some truth about a rumour doing the rounds in the city:

The story is that David Cameron is considering reshuffling his shadow Cabinet, promoting the brown-suede-shod Big Beast to take over from Bullingdon Boy. Apparently, Cameron will replace George Osborne with Ken Clarke, the shadow Business secretary and former chancellor, either before we go to the polls or swiftly afterwards. Cameron would then give Osborne something big in return, maybe the Foreign job. To make way, William Hague would be offered a peerage.

Let’s dismiss what happens to Hague and concentrate on Osborne and Clarke.

Cameron has got to do something to restore the Tory party’s credibility after the recent cock-ups and U-turns.  Policy announcements are one thing, but they hardly capture the public's imagination.  Moving Ken Clarke this side of the election solves a few little problems.

First, it would remove Osborne from the the front line, and therefore wrong foot Mandelson’s strategy of targeting what he perceives as the Tories weakest link.  Second, it would reassure the city and the markets, both of which must be kept on side after the election.  More importantly, it would demonstrate that Cameron is a ruthless operator, capable of taking the single-minded decisions that a Prime Minister must display in office.

Initially, Labour would say that Cameron had misjudged Osborne and he was bowing to pressure from the city, but it will not last.

Cameron should make the change.  It will take courage, but he needs to be bold and regain the initiative.

Moving Osborne and replacing him with Ken Clarke may well do the trick.

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  1. This would be the most intellegent thing to do.

    Clarke is only midway through his career despite his age, with so much to offer. But beyond this, he has the vital experience needed and called upon here. He pulled us through the last recession, and boy-George has not.

    I say Clarke for the chancellor job again.

  2. I think there are few Tory supporters or"leaners" who would be opposed to, or disappointed by, Ken Clarke being made shadow chancellor or ultimately Chancellor. I find it hard to believe Hague would be willing to accept a Peerage instead of being, in effect, DPM and Foreign Secretary. Much more likely that Osborne will be given Chairmanship of the Party, and Hague would remain in situ. Osborne is far from a bad shadow chancellor, but the public don't trust him. Cameron moving him now, would show decisiveness at just the right time, particularly as the public appear to like and respect Ken Clarke. Go for it!