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Thursday, 24 October, 2002, 10:34 GMT 11:34 UK
Profile: Charles Clarke
Charles Clarke
Clarke was Neil Kinnock's chief of staff
Charles Clarke has been at the forefront of Labour since the days of Neil Kinnock but only now has he got a spending department of his own to run.

The new education secretary is not a complete newcomer to his brief - from 1998 he spent a year as schools minister in his first government job.

As Labour chairman, Mr Clarke has proved his loyalty to New Labour, ruffling feathers within party and union ranks in the process.

But being at the heart of internal Labour politicking was not a new experience for a man who served as Neil Kinnock's chief of staff during his years as Labour leader.

Tipped for the top

He had a hand in writing the speech in which Kinnock attacked Militant's administration of Liverpool.

Mr Clarke was tipped for office from the moment he was elected as MP for Norwich South in 1997, despite a few off-message wobbles.

He made clear his opposition to cuts in lone-parent benefits (although he supported it in the lobbies) and called for a full elected second chamber.

After his year at the education department, he became minister of state at the Home Office.

But he only gained high public prominence when he was moved to the newly created post of Labour chairman, with his salary paid from party funds.

'Whispered' criticism?

This caused great controversy, since constitutionally Labour already had its own elected party chairman.

In the role he has often served as a general media troubleshooter for the party and has used exhibited a tendency for straight talking which has proved too blunt at times for some people.

This summer has seen reports of a "whispering campaign" against Mr Clarke, something he denied was true in a recent interview with BBC News Online.

Now he has a role which puts him in charge of what Tony Blair says is still his government's top priority.


Key stories

Morris quits

Analysis

AUDIO VIDEO

TALKING POINT

FORUM
 VOTE RESULTS
Was Estelle Morris right to resign?

Yes
 58.32% 

No
 41.68% 

16899 Votes Cast

Results are indicative and may not reflect public opinion

See also:

23 Oct 02 | Politics

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