Clarke to highlight his opposition to Iraq war in Tory leadership bid

Mr Clarke, who is expected formally to declare his intention to stand for the leadership in the next few days, was a consistent critic of the 2003 war, even though it was backed by the Tories under Iain Duncan Smith and his successor, Michael Howard.

It was also supported by Mr Clarke's two main rivals for the Tory leadership - the front-runner, David Davis, the shadow Home Secretary, and David Cameron, the shadow Education Secretary.

One MP who supports Mr Clarke said yesterday: "The fact is that Ken got it right on Iraq and others got it wrong. If he had been Tory leader, the political landscape would have looked very different. We could have made the running on the issue at the general election. Ken wasn't a lone voice. A lot of Tories had doubts but went along with the leadership."

Conservative Party officials admitted they had failed to benefit from the leaking of the Attorney General's legal advice on the war during this year's election because the party leadership had endorsed the conflict. Earlier, Mr Howard said he would not have voted for the war if had known in 2003 what he knew now, but his attempt to get off the hook backfired.

Allies of Mr Clarke - a former chancellor, home secretary, health secretary and education secretary - insist it is legitimate for him to raise the Iraq issue because the continuing problems on the ground in Iraq bear out his good judgement - his main "selling point" to Tory MPs given his experience in four cabinet posts.

Mr Clarke is discussing with advisers whether to devote one of the keynote speeches of his campaign to Iraq. He also intends to attack Tony Blair's claim that last month's terrorist attacks in London were not linked to the war by insisting that the conflict increased the threat to Britain.

It emerged at the weekend that the Foreign Office warned more than a year ago that the invasion was fuelling Muslim extremism.

Last week, Mr Cameron said of the war: "I thought then [in 2003] that, on balance, it was right to go ahead, and I still do now."

The Muslim Council of Britain criticised Mr Davis for voting for the war after he urged the Government to scrap its "outdated" policy of multiculturalism.

The only other potential candidate to oppose the war is Sir Malcolm Rifkind, the former foreign secretary, whose leadership campaign may be undermined by Mr Clarke's decision to run.

Sir Malcolm told BBC Radio 4 yesterday: "If the Conservative Party wants to choose the 'one nation' tradition of Conservatism as the way in which it will regain the confidence and support of the public,I would be proud to be its leader."

He added: "If the party, in its wisdom, comes to the view that a more right-wing policy concentrating on immigration, on Europe and issues of that kind are the way forward then obviously it should look elsewhere. I think that's a real choice and I think it's important that in appealing to the public, the party should first be clear what its own priorities are."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksNow available in paperback
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SThree: Associate Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree are seeking Associate Recruitm...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Software Engineer - PHP

£33000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Opilio Recruitment: Field Marketing Manage

£25k - 40k per year + Benefits: Opilio Recruitment: A fantastic opportunity ...

Recruitment Genius: Domestic Gas Breakdown Engineers

£28000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Domestic Gas Breakdown Engineer...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas