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Wednesday, 16 October, 2002, 15:07 GMT 16:07 UK
Kenneth Clarke

Date of birth

2 July 1940

Political profile

The last true big beast of the Thatcher and Major governments left in the Commons, Ken Clarke twice came close to leading the Conservative Party but after successive defeats has returned to the backbenches where he has sat since 1997.

Remarkably, he served as a member of the government all the way through the Conservatives' 18 years in power from 1979, having been a member of the Commons since 1970.

He served in the cabinet as Health Secretary, Education Secretary, Home Secretary and Chancellor of the Exchequer.

He gained wide support in his leadership campaigns because of his powerful performances as a debater.

A charismatic performer, he is capable of knocking the Labour party as effectively as any of his colleagues.

He has also constructed an image as an "ordinary bloke" with his penchants for jazz and cigars.

However, despite his impeccable free market credentials, he is also a long standing enthusiast for the European Union and the single currency - attributes which proved to be anathema to a majority of Conservative MPs in 1997 and to party members in 2001.

Contact

clarkek@parliament.uk

Constituency office 0115 981 7224

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