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Suddenly Ken Clarke is back in fashion again

August 10th, 2005

    What’s behind the betting move towards the veteran campaigner?

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It’s some time since we featured our chart showing prices changes in the Tory leadership race because there’s been so little movement. For weeks the implied probability based on best betting prices has David Davis at more than 55%; David Cameron on 22% and the rest of the field almost nowhere – except Ken Clarke.

For the former Tory Chancellor has seen a recovery and is not far off the peak that he reached immediately after the French Euro Referendum “NON” which many commentators saw as giving Ken a chance because it would take the EU out of the political argument.

The current market view seems to be that if the two Davids slip up then Ken Clarke could be the man. We are not convinced.

    Whether the final decision is left in the hands of the Tory membership or Tory MPs we cannot see the former Chancellor overcoming the hostility there is towards him. Even though the EU might not be the issue it was it is still there and Clarke’s strong pro-position sets him apart from so many in his party.

The current betting price surge is probably the product of his high name recognition and the view of many outside the party, including me, who think that it is glaringly obvious that he is the right man to take on Tony Blair and Gordon Brown. Much of Brown’s reputation for financial management derives from what he inherited from Ken Clarke in 1997 and what better person could the Tories have facing him across the dispatch boxes?

The Brown technique is to overwhelm opponents with streams of statistics which Clarke could handle very well.

As we have seen in the discussions on the site it is not the outside view that matters. Clarke will run and Clarke will lose again.

Mike Smithson






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