Veteran MP vows to continue hanging around the House

Ken Clarke
Ken Clarke
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Veteran Conservative Ken Clarke will stand for re-election in 2015, ending speculation he was set to retire after more than 40 years in Parliament.

The Minister without Portfolio has been formally adopted as the Tory candidate for Rushcliffe at the next general election after informing fellow Conservatives of his “continuing enthusiasm for life in Parliament”. Mr Clarke also joked he suspects his wife believes having him hanging around the house complaining about politics rather than taking part “wouldn’t be a great improvement”.

The father-of-two was first elected to serve his Nottinghamshire constituency in 1970 and has held numerous roles in the Cabinet.

They include serving as Margaret Thatcher’s Health Secretary, Home Secretary And Chancellor under John Major and more recently as David Cameron’s Justice Secretary And Lord Chancellor.

In a BBC interview, former Tory leadership contender Mr Clarke said: “There are lots of ambitious people who would like to be the next MP for Rushcliffe or the candidate for Rushcliffe and ask about my well-being and health.

“And there’s been speculation in the press. It’s bound to at my age.

“My wife Gillian is prepared for me to do it again.

“She probably thinks that having me hanging around the house complaining about the politics instead of participating wouldn’t be a great improvement.”

The pro-Europe MP added of his potential re-election: “I’ll be 74 and in the mid-term of my career. I’m surprised to find myself still doing it.

“I’m a bit of a political anorak and I find politics are as fascinating as I ever did.”

Mr Clarke was educated at Cambridge University and became a barrister in 1963 and a QC in 1980.

He unsuccessfully contested Mansfield in the 1964 and 1966 general elections.

Mr Clarke, who lists his interests as football, cricket, jazz and bird-watching, said of his relationship with Prime Minister Mr Cameron: “I get on very well with David. But sooner or later, I’m sure he’ll ask me to retire.

“He’s had me in the Government for three and a half years, which is much longer than I expected.

“He may have me there for the rest of this Parliament. But prime ministers need to accommodate young, thrusting, ambitious men, as I used to be many decades ago.

“Sometimes, as Prime Minister, you have to cough gently and ask your colleagues to retire. I hope he’ll keep me for as long as I can contribute.”

A statement from the Rushcliffe Conservatives said: “Mr Clarke addressed the meeting and expressed his continuing enthusiasm for life in Parliament. He described the roles he currently held in Westminster and his desire to continue to serve Rushcliffe and the country. Members were happy to adopt him as their candidate and pledged to work for a successful outcome in the 2015 election.”

The long-serving MP also gained a reputation for believing in comfortable footwear.