Pupils and staff enjoyed the reminiscences of Ken Clarke, one of the genuine ‘Big Beasts’ of the political scene, at the Ilkley Literature Festival ‘Ken Clarke: Kind of Blue’, as he chartered his remarkable progress from working-class scholarship boy in Nottinghamshire to high political office.
Ken Clarke, Known as a Tory Wet who loves cricket, Nottingham Forest Football Club and jazz, Clarke isn’t a straightforward Conservative politician and his passionate commitment to Europe cost him the leadership on no less than three occasions.
Mike Simpson, Head of Politics at BGS said: “We’ve been lucky to work with the Ilkley Literature Festival on a number of events this year. An extension of that collaboration was sponsoring this event. It was really interesting to hear how Ken’s education was helped by a scholarship to Nottingham High School. Of course many of our OBs were also the beneficiaries of similar schemes which enabled BGS the right to be labelled ‘Bradford’s Grammar School’.”
In his memoir Ken makes light of a difficult upbringing; he romps through life’s many travails. He finds himself, in turn, on a school trip to the House of Commons, sitting two rows behind Nikita Khrushchev and Nikolai Bulganin. He networks with ease while at Cambridge, where he meets many of his political peers.
Clarke is also staunch in his praise of Margaret Thatcher. She was, according to his interpretation, more of a consensus politician than is commonly believed; she tried to bring her cabinet along with her, and she did not buckle to the vagaries of the media.
“Given the present debate surrounding the return of grammar schools, it is interesting to speculate if similar arrangements could be revived. The pace of change in Politics was clear with his discussion of Thatcher years and how she was an ardent supporter of the Single Market. We’re delighted that the pupils could reflect on these issues with such a high profile politician.”