Ken Clarke: The loss of a good constituency MP?

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I am writing this article following last week’s news of the cabinet reshuffle by David Cameron in the run up to next year’s general elections. Ken Clarke is stepping aside from frontline politics after a number of years allowing him to focus on his own constituency. His actions made me realise that he is one of the few MPs who has a direct link to their constituency from before they were elected.

Ken is well known for his love of Hush Puppies, cigars, cricket and jazz, but he is also one of our true constituency MPs. He is one of the political figures who is well known for things outside politics, thereby portraying a human image, unlike some of his party.

He was born in West Bridgford, part of his Rushcliffe seat to which he was elected to in 1970. He is a Nottingham Forest supporter and can often be found in the members’ area of Trent Bridge. He knows the area he represents; seeing it develop over his lifetime and understanding the needs of the people who live there.

This is in complete contrast to many of the politicians and aspiring politicians of today who have no connection to the area they represent. Many are often shipped in by the party machine to strongholds because they are well known, the son of a former Prime Minister or to improve their representation of women in Parliament. These candidates are at the expense of local candidates who have the community knowledge and understanding of the local people.

Is it not far better to have MPs who have an in-depth knowledge of the area than one who just looks good on camera, or to realise what the community needs rather than being a mouth-piece of the party machine ignoring the wishes of residents?

Despite being in different parties and disagreeing over a number of issues, I do admire Ken for the service to his community as a constituency MP for over 30 years and although he is not retiring completely, he will be missed in the front line of politics.