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Plenty of hinterland to Ken Clarke
Plenty of hinterland to Ken Clarke

One of the benefits to politicians of "hinterland" is its humanising effect in the eyes of voters. Ken Clarke's well-known enjoyment of jazz music, beer and cigar smoking are a key element in the ex-chancellor's unforced blokeish appeal to the electorate.

As he once said, "I am a hedonist, but if there was a clash between politics and beer, I would put politics first and beer second."

When he can he will spend a night tapping his suede-Hush Puppied toe at Ronnie Scott's. At free weekends he watches his football team, Nottingham Forest. He is also a keen ornithologist and collector of political memorabilia.

The son of a Midlands jeweller, he grew up with politics. His maternal grandfather was a communist, and the young Ken Clarke was no stranger to robust debate, with his grandfather and father often arguing about the issues of the day. At the age of seven he decided he wanted to become an MP and has said that "even in short trousers I was following the politics of the Attlee government".

When he arrived at Cambridge University he initially joined both the Bow Group and the moderate-Labour Campaign for Social Democracy. But by 1961 he was chairman of the Cambridge University Conservative Association.






Audio/Video Clips
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All five candidates head-to-head on Question Time
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Ken Clarke finally ends the speculation and joins the race, June 2001
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Ken Clarke makes his mind up - but keeps his decision secret, June 2001
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The pro-euro Clarke explains why he joined Tony Blair in backing Britain in Europe, October 1999
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The former chancellor refuses to serve in Hague’s shadow cabinet, summer 1997
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