Saturday, August 27, 2005

Kenneth Clarke

Clarke is running for leadership of the Brit Tory party, the opposition to New Labor. He has a long history of promoting stupid ideas, notably the Euro. His recently confession that he has wrong on the Euro may incline people to forgive him. They shouldn't - he's another Edward Heath with weak analytical skills and too arrogant to attract smart people to cover his weaknesses.

Ferdinand Mount does a demolition job on the guy, concluding:

He might make a splendid President of France. I just don't think he's one for us.

Actually, Clarke would screw up France even more than Chirac has. Here are highlights of his career (my ellipsis and emphasis).

The Euro

The year after the euro was launched, Clarke was triumphant: "The euro has already created wider and deeper capital markets. It has done what I thought it would do: speed up the essential restructuring of western European economies. It has also stimulated trade and investment across borders. It is leading to liberalisation in every area. Euroland economies are achieving rapidly accelerating rates of growth. I never thought that the disadvantages of (the UK) having to wait would become apparent so soon."

Now he says that virtually none of this has turned out to be true.

He means none. Then, two years later:

"There has been a decisive swing to the pro-euro cause. The public mood is changing as people can see the success of the new currency on the mainland and the alarming fall in inward investment into Britain."

Which was followed by the Dutch and French showing their own kind of mood change as the Brits left the Euro economies in the dust.

Clarke hurt real people when he had power.

Undermining the family

As chancellor, he began the erosion of the married couple's tax allowance, denouncing such support of marriage through the tax system as "an anomaly".

Centralizing office Clarke was consistently contemptuous of the performance and potential of local government. In all his senior posts, he supported centralization with unabashed vigour.

Locking kids in lousy schools

As education secretary, he blocked any attempt to devolve real power to parents by some sort of education voucher.

His apologies miss the point - which is why did he do these things?

Anyone with basic math and a spreadsheet can see that a common currency linking Germany, Italy, Portugal and Greece will damage all economies. Any manager knows that devolved power works better than the Stalinist model. All Brits understand that competition makes them richer and better-supplied, so lack of competition is the cancer ruining their kids' education.

Clarke's problem, like his role-model Heath, is that he has weak analytical skills and is too arrogant to compensate by surrounding himself with smart people.

Margaret Thatcher was the reverse - a trained chemist and clever herself, she nevertheless surrounded herself with super-smarts like Keith Joseph. Her team transformed the Brit economy from the "sick man of Europe" to the fourth-largest economy in the world.

If the Tories select Clarke as their leader his record will probably guarantee that they'll never win an election. If for any reason they do, he'll smash their economy and further undermine the fabric of their society.