He served in senior positions under three Prime Ministers and watched at first-hand as the Conservative Party scaled heights of triumph and plumbed depths of disaster.
At the age of 75, the veteran former Cabinet minister Kenneth Clarke, who stood three times for his party’s leadership, has finally been persuaded to tell the inside story of his lengthy political career. He is to receive a fee of £430,000 for his memoirs, the highest price for a book by a British politician other than an ex-Prime Minister.
The volume will be entitled Kind of Blue, named after an album by one of his jazz heroes, Miles Davis, and will be published by Macmillan.
Mr Clarke, who has been an MP for almost 46 years, has already written more than 100,000 words after sorting through the masses of paperwork he has accumulated.
One publisher whose bid for the book was unsuccessful, was quoted comparing the former minister’s prose style with the American novelist F Scott Fitzgerald.
“Having read two of the chapters, one about what it was like serving in the Thatcher cabinet, the book is a good and revealing read,” the publisher told the Sunday Times.
“He has a great eye for detail and a great memory. It is rather like Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby – being at the big parties and observing what’s going on.”
Mr Clarke joked that he had been bullied by people who used to work for him to put “some of my memories of political decisions onto paper”.
He told Sky News: “I haven’t produced the book yet but I gather somebody has told the newspapers this great work is on the way. Quite how I’m going to find the time to polish it off I’m not quite sure so I won’t be spending the money in case I have to hand it back to the publisher for failing to complete the book.”
Mr Clarke, who stood down as a minister in 2014 and was re-elected as MP for Rushcliffe, with a majority of nearly 14,000 in last year’s election.
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