Monday, January 19, 2009

Kenneth Clarke: What happens if Labour starts making pro-European noises?

Iain Dale describes his experience of arriving at the studio to appear on Simon Mayo's Radio Five Live programme, only to find himself confronted with Barry Legg:

I generally have a policy of not appearing on programmes with other Tories who I know are purely there to disagree with me, as it does not generally lead to a very edifying discussion. For those who have never heard of him, he was a Tory MP in the 1990s and before that was on Westminster City Council. He currently chairs the Bruges Group.

He was naturally against Ken Clarke having any role in the Tory Party whatsoever. Whatever question Simon Mayo asked him he always brought the subject back to Europe. It was like being in a timewarp ...

Legg had been invited onto the Mayo programme as a former Chief Executive of the Party, albeit for only a few weeks back in 2003. In some ways it was encouraging that they were reduced to choosing him, as it meant there were no leading figures prepared to put the anti-Ken argument over the airwaves. A few years ago, there would have been a queue at the studio door.

That is certainly an encouraging sign for the Conservative Party: it no longer gives the impression that it is more interested in theology than power, and the presence of Kenneth Clarke in the shadow cabinet will be popular with the wider public.

But what happens if the Labour government starts making gently pro-European noises? Clarke's opposite number, Peter Mandelson, will find have no problems with doing this either ideologically or tactically.

Will Clarke oppose him? If he doesn't, will rank and file opinion in the Conservative Party be outraged?

It will be fun finding out.

1 comment:

Mark Thompson said...

It will be fun indeed!

I have already spotted a non-europe based disagreement with the leadership (which I outline here).

I am looking forward to more of the same!