Kenneth Clarke was born in 1940. He was educated at Nottingham High School and Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge.
He is a barrister-at-law, having been called to the Bar by Gray's Inn in 1963 and becoming QC in 1980. He has practised on the Midland Circuit, based in Birmingham.
He first became active in politics at Cambridge, where he was President of the Union, and Chairman of the University Conservative Association. He was also the National Chairman of the Federation of University Conservative Associations.
He unsuccessfully contested Mansfield in the General Elections of 1964 and 1966. He was elected MP for Rushcliffe at the 1970 General Election, gaining the seat from Labour.
Ken has extensive experience in government, spanning three decades. He has served in two of the four Great Offices of State: Chancellor and Home Secretary.
During his time as Chancellor of the Exchequer, from 1993 to 1997, Britain recovered from recession and was set on a course of economic growth with low inflation. In addition, the budget deficit was halved and interest rates and unemployment fell. New Labour had simply to stick to his plans for the first three years of their Government to achieve a budget surplus. He bequeathed to Labour a golden economic legacy.
In December 2005, Ken was appointed head of the Democracy Task Force by David Cameron. The review ran for 18 months and looked at ways to reengage people in the democratic process and repair trust in politics by restoring Cabinet Government and accountability to the House of Commons.
In January 2009, Ken joined the Shadow Cabinet as Shadow Secretary of State for Business, bringing with him a wealth of experience from the public and private sectors.
In May 2010, Ken was appointed to join the Cabinet as Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice and currently serves as Minister without Portfolio.
Ken returned to the back benches following the Cabinet re-shuffle in July 2014.
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