British Conservative politician, Lord Chancellor 2010–12 and minister without portfolio 2012–14. A liberal, pro-European Union Conservative with a popular touch and blunt-speaking style, Clarke held a succession of ministerial posts in the governments of Margaret Thatcher and John Major in the 1980s and 1990s, to become the longest continuously serving minister since Lord Palmerston in the early 19th century. He was health secretary 1988–90, education secretary 1990–92, home secretary 1992–93, and chancellor of the Exchequer 1993–97. In January 2009 Conservative leader David Cameron brought him into the shadow cabinet as business secretary, and in 2010–12 he served as justice secretary and lord chancellor. In September 2012 he was moved to the cabinet post of minister without portfolio, with a roving brief on the economy. He stepped down in the July 2014 cabinet reshuffle.
His pro-EU views, in an increasingly eurosceptic party, meant that he failed in his 1997, 2001, and 2005 bids to become leader of the party when it was in opposition.
In his role of justice secretary and lord chancellor in 2010–12, he placed greater emphasis on the rehabilitation of offenders and on community sentences instead of locking away in prison ‘more and more people for longer’.
Born in Nottingham, Clarke was politically active as a law student at Cambridge. He was called to the bar in 1963 and was elected member of Parliament (MP) for Rushcliffe, Nottinghamshire, in 1970. He was a whip in the Ted Heath government 1972–74. A junior member of the first Thatcher government of May 1979, he became a minister of state in 1982. He became a member of the cabinet as paymaster general from 1985, with special responsibility for employment, and chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster in 1987 before his first appointment as a secretary of state in 1988.
He was a contestant for the leadership of the Conservative Party after its defeat in the 1997 general election and became president of the Tory Reform Group in 1997. At odds over the new leader's anti-European policy, he declined to accept a position in the shadow cabinet of William Hague, but eventually became David Cameron's shadow business secretary in 2009. While remaining an MP, he took up non-executive directorships and was deputy chair of British American Tobacco 1998–2007.
Clarke, Ken(neth Harry)
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