Thursday, November 30, 2006


Trident issue Unlikely to Endear Clarke to Brown

'At 56, will he be an energetic part of it?' Michael White asks today. The 'it' relates to Brown's putative coming administration and 'he' to Charles Clarke, Home Secretary until forced to stand down by Tony Blair over six months ago. White's article is located beneath one by Patrick Wintour on the former student leader's speech on defence to the Fabian Society.

In it he lambasts-correctly in my view- the policy of renewing Trident: 'a new weapon to fight an old war'. Blair has promised a three month debate about the issue followed by a Commons vote in the spring. Together with the costly new Tornado fighter, designed to shoot down Soviet aircraft over Central Europe, Trident represents yet another 'white elephant' piece of kit. Wintour identifies 'a genuine heavyweight voice' lacking since the death of Robin Cook, on the question of Trident's renewal. But will his voice have any effect? Clarke has been asiduously offering a portfolio of views in recent weeks, because, suggests White, 'he clearly wants Gordon Brown to give him a job'.

My guess would be that, able as Clarke obviously is, Brown will not make the offer. Firstly Gordon has already said, in a curious aside in his June Mansion House speech, that he favours renewal of the present deterrent. This alone, I would have thought would have ruled him out of contention as a relative maverick to a man who prizes loyalty above most things. Secondly, and conclusively in my view, Clarke launched an extraordinary and intemperate attack on his colleague last September as 'stupid, stupid stupid', as 'nervous and lacking confidence' and as 'uncollegiate'. Brown did appear to suggest in a later interview with Andrew Marr that Clarke might still be in the frame, but everything one hears about Brown's character- not least from Clarke himself- suggests he'll neither forgive or forget.

Wasn't Clarke Home Sec until feb or so of this year? Or was I just experiencing a strange pre-finals timelag problem at the time?

Carke himself was neither strongly in favour or against Trident, he said he was "skeptical" about the use it could have when at the Fabian event, but mostly urged a debate on the issue, saying it was something we needed to know more about. He pointed to t he fact that Trident will be operable for the next 15 yaears or so as evidence that there is time for the debate and, when a commentaator mentioned Gordnon's comments on T, Clarke said he didn't feel that its renewal was decided, by any stretch of the imagination.

Re him seeking a post in GB's cabinet...hmmm...from what I can tell he's much much too pally with Alan Milburn for him to desire it or for GB to consider it.

I'm gonna blog shortly on the Fabian event, so you might want to peep my page in about an hour or two.
You're right but it was May not Feb. Interesting Wintour should slant Clarke's talk as he is one of the batter hacks at the Grauniad. Looks like he's set to challenge GB on Tirdent from what you say.
Needless to say, I meant 'better' and I meant 'Trident'. My proof reading of my own stuff gets worse as my dementia progresses.
Unless you have a secret desire to batter hacks. Not unreasonable, I think.
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