Ken Clarke needs no introduction. One of the genuine 'Big Beasts' of the political scene, during his 46 years as the Member of Parliament for Rushcliffe in Nottinghamshire he has been at the very heart of government under three prime ministers. He is a political obsessive with a personal hinterland, as well known as a Tory Wet with Europhile views as for his love of cricket, Nottingham Forest Football Club and jazz.
In Kind of Blue, Clarke charts his remarkable progress from working-class scholarship boy in Nottinghamshire to high political office and the upper echelons of both his party and of government. But Clarke is not a straightforward Conservative politician. His position on the left of the party, often led Margaret Thatcher to question his true blue credentials and his passionate commitment to the European project, has led many fellow Conservatives to regard him with suspicion - and cost him the leadership on no less than three occasions.
Clarke has had a ringside seat in British politics for four decades, and his trenchant observations and candid account of life both in and out of government will enthrall listeners of all political persuasions. Vivid, witty and forthright, and taking its title not only from his politics but from his beloved Miles Davis, Kind of Blue is political memoir at its very best.
©2016 Ken Clarke (P)2016 Macmillan Digital Audio
I already have! Ken Clarke's narration adds to the insight of his experiences across many years in parliament. Although I don't always agree with him politically, I felt a better understanding of the reasoning behind some decisions. Brexit makes this even more relevant.
How different ministries work and the trade unions associated with them. How politics and politicians roles have changed, also the rise of the right/media changes.
I like his voice, but also he's able to stress things that's made it seem more personal. I can understand why he'd make a good companion.
Puts context into the actions of some post Brexit and yet despite it being a book about government in the main, I found it a very easy and enjoyable listen.
Insightful; Self-assured; candid.
The most obvious answer would be Ken Clarke's insights in to the Thatcher government which is transparent and incredibly interesting but actually it is the explanation of how the New Labour era and David Cameron's government actually functioned from someone who is from an era of conviction rather than populist politics which I found most gripping. An exceptional career, even if there aspects of his politics that I do not wholeheartedly subscribe to.
He describes in his foreword that this book is the result of a team effort; the labours of extremely good editing based on his late night dictations made whilst he supped on a brandy and smoked a cigar (or two). His performance is reflective of this creative genesis. it is personal, informal, and typical of his rather relaxed 'hush-puppy" style. It almost feels as though you could be sitting opposite him, listening to his "garrulous" meanderings whilst sitting in a chesterfield chair in a smoke filled room. A really nice listen.
His obvious love and aching for his departed companion and wife cannot fail to move. Especially so when it comes to the loss of his other passion, the loss of the UK's membership of the EU. The first I deeply sympathised with, the second I deeply empathised with.
The fact is that Ken Clarke is the hero of his own story. I am a person who only really became politically aware after the '97 New Labour landslide and so, the idea of what a conviction politician actually is, is quite alien to me. To listen to an individual such as Ken Clarke describe his deeply held and unwavering opinions with such intelligence and resounding certainty is remarkably refreshing. The complete absence of any form of self-doubt, any reflective (and navel gazing) questioning around the validity of his convictions are very far removed from my very generation Y sensibilities. I guess they just don't make them like him any more... Shame, really.
Or, more properly as the title has it, a "political memoir".
One problem with autobiography when presented as an audiobook is that, despite leading interesting lives, many autobiographers are not good readers. Conversely when an individual's voice is well known it seems wrong to hear his or her memoir being read by an actor. Fortunately, as a barrister and an MP Ken Clarke is an accomplished speaker and his reading works well.
Clarke's congenial, hail-fellow-well-met exterior disguises a keen intellect and he was never afraid to disagree with his cabinet colleagues or his prime minister. His account of the Thatcher years is especially interesting.
Clarke is a well known advocate of the EU and the book is sufficiently up to date to include the results of the recent referendum and his views on that result (as well as recalling his now famous off-the-cuff comment about Teresa May).
On his own admission Clarke's successful 45-year political career owed much to his naturally easy going temperament and the loyal support of his wife. Incidentally, he asserts that despite the mythology he NEVER wore Hush Puppies. His suede shoes were hand made and very expensive!
Recommended, especially for those who remember the Thatcher years.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading the book to start with and also the audio book when I decided to switch about a third of the way through as I started to commute on a regular basis.
I have always respected Ken Clarke and found myself agreeing with most of his views but I had no idea about his views and actions before 1997. It is depressing to findout how little substance there is behind the tory right wing Euro scepticism
This is a long book but very gripping all the way through and so much more enjoyable for being read by the author. What an incredibly wide experience he has and his obviously congenial nature and wisdom make him popular with people of all parties and persuasions. Britain would have been much better off with Ken as prime minister, particularly around the time preceding the Brexit vote.
Report Inappropriate Content
If you find this review inappropriate and think it should be removed from our site, let us know. This report will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.