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Tuesday, September 7, 1999 Published at 15:43 GMT 16:43 UK


UK Politics

Alan Clark: Politician and diarist

Alan Clark at his home in Kent

Alan Clark, the former Tory minister, diarist and military historian who died suddenly at the age of 71, was one of the most colourful and flamboyant ministers of the Thatcher era.


Gary O'Donoghue canvasses opinion on Alan Clark's contribution to British politics
Mr Clark was a maverick right-wing Conservative - a free-thinking intellectual whose opinions often upset and sometimes shocked his colleagues.

His frank diaries, published in 1993, which catalogued his philandering and gave candid views on his fellow Tories, were a sensation and sold in their thousands.


[ image: Alan Clark served as a minister under Margaret Thatcher]
Alan Clark served as a minister under Margaret Thatcher
For 18 years he was a Plymouth MP, rising as a minister under Mrs Thatcher through the Departments of Employment, Trade and Defence - though he never reached the Cabinet.

As a defence minister he did not get on with his boss Tom King and was criticised in the report on the arms-for-Iraq affair.

In the celebrated Matrix Churchill trial he gave typically frank evidence, saying he had been "economical with the actualité". The case against the defendants collapsed.

He was the son of Lord Clark, an art expert. The MP owned a large estate in Scotland, lived in a castle in Kent and said he had no guilt about being rich.

Return to politics

Having stood down from the Commons in 1992, he proved unable to resist the temptation to return and got the voters of Kensington and Chelsea to elect him as their MP in 1997.

After his return to the Commons he was outspoken in his opposition to Nato's action against Serbia which he said was, "reckless, indiscriminate and brutal".

In June this year he under went surgery for a brain tumour.

Mr Clark also presented TV documentaries, notably a series detailing the history of the Conservative Party.

The former minister's political views were diverse and combined a pro-hanging stance with a passionate concern for animal welfare, which led him, unsuccessfully, to try to get Mrs Thatcher to ban fur imports.

He leaves a wife, Caroline Jane, and two sons.



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