Ken Clarke – the Cabinet's answer to Macavity
Sunday 21 August 2011
They seek him here, they seek him there, and when they finally find Ken Clarke, he shuts his eyes. Where is the Justice Secretary when you need him?
While David Cameron and Theresa May have made much political capital from the London riots, Ken has been noticeable by his absence. Odd, given that he is in charge of the department responsible for the courts and prisons, struggling to cope in the aftermath.
Not since Gordon Brown was PM has a minister prompted so many comparisons to Macavity, T S Eliot's mystery cat. Yet in the past, Ken always cut more of a doggy figure, an overenthusiastic Labrador happy to cock his leg on the finer nuances of the Tory spin machine and not to be trusted off the lead. In a game of word association, Ken Clarke leads to Hush Puppies, his trademark suede shoes.
But now he is a Hush Puppy. We heard barely a squeak from Ken's office during the week of riots, which, given Ken's previous, is probably the way the PM wanted it. Emails to Ken's inbox prompted an automated response, saying it was closed until 5 September. Then, when Parliament was recalled, his shambling figure in a pale grey suit did appear on the front benches. But as our picture reveals, Ken promptly felt the need to rest his eyes and concentrate very deeply.
To be fair, he has been busy with engagements elsewhere – watching England play India at Trent Bridge. But aides are keen to insist Ken remains on duty all summer. Yet Eliot's words have never rung truer: "He's the bafflement of Scotland Yard, the Flying Squad's despair: For when they reach the scene of crime – Kenneth Clarke's not there!"
- 1 Nigel Farage: Me vs Russell Brand on Question Time – he's got the chest hair but where are his ideas?
- 2 Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
- 3 Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
- 4 Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
- 5 Orange Wednesdays are no more
Weather bomb in pictures: Storms cuts power for tens of thousands – and snow is on the way
Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
Russell Brand was rendered speechless on Question Time by this man
Fury at Airbus after it hints the super-jumbo may be mothballed
Disgruntled RBS worker writes hilarious open letter to Russell Brand after anti-capitalist publicity stunt leaves him hungry
Shock poll shows voters believe Ukip is to the left of the Tories
Nigel Farage's approval rating hits 'record low' as popularity suffers in wake of Ukip sex scandal
Nigel Farage defends Kerry Smith 'ch***y' comment: 'If you are going for a Chinese, what do you say you’re going for?'
Ukip candidate jokes about 'shooting peasants' in racist and homophobic rant
Pakistan school attack live: Taliban kill at least 132 children in 'horrifying' massacre
£65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...
£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...
£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...
£27000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: A Quality Technician...