Ken Clarke: ave atque vale

by Stephen Tall on October 18, 2005

Ken Clarke has been, for me, the real hero of this Tory election campaign, the only candidate to have said anything worth saying, and memorably so.

His final line to the Blackpool conference was one of the most audaciously brilliant punch-lines I’ve heard in a political speech:

“We search for leaders who will be seen by the public as
prime ministers in waiting. Oh boy, have you kept me waiting.”

And now, just as he was hoping to walk down the aisle, he’s been jilted. I guess as a Lib Dem I should be grateful the Tories have ungraciously tossed to one side their biggest electoral asset (beaten by Liam Fox and David Davis, for Chrissakes!).

But, as it happens, I’m sorry. Politics has too few stars. The loss of Ken to frontline politics will make for more anodyne debate, especially if the young Master Cameron’s bandwagon – pushed by a youth-fetishising media – blandly triumphs. The Tories’ loss is our loss.

It’s the triumph of hope over experience. And pretty damn classy experience at that.