Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
The son of a senior civil servant, Charles Clarke read Mathematics and Economics at King's College, Cambridge where he also served as the president of the Cambridge Students' Union and from where he went on to become President of the National Union of Students in 1975. He became a local councillor in the London Borough of Hackney, acting as Chair of its Housing Committee from 1980 to 1986. He worked as a researcher, and later Chief of Staff, to Labour Party leader Neil Kinnock from 1981 to 1992. His association with Kinnock and with the general election defeat in 1992 was expected to handicap him in his subsequent career, but he was to emerge as a high flyer.
Elected to the British House of Commons in the Labour landslide of 1997, Clarke served less than a year on the back benches before joining the government as a junior education minister in July 1998. He moved to the Home Office in 1999 and joined the Cabinet as Minister without Portfolio and Party Chair after the 2001 general election. He returned to Education as Secretary of State on October 24, 2002 after the resignation of Estelle Morris. As Education Secretary, he defended Oxbridge elitism, encouraged the establishment of specialist secondary schools, and (allegedly) suggested that the state should not fund "unproductive" humanities research. He also oversaw the introduction of Bills to enable universities in the UK to charge top-up fees, despite a Labour manifesto commitment not to introduce such fees.
Following the resignation of David Blunkett on 15 December, 2004, Clarke took over at the Home Office as Home Secretary, one of the senior positions in the Cabinet. He has recently been at the centre of much controversy regarding his proposed plans for countering terrorism. Critics suggest that his reforms to the judicial system undermine centuries of British legal precendent dating back to the 1215 Magna Carta, particularly the right to a fair trial and trial by jury.
- Official biography at number-10.gov.uk
- "Aristotle" listing from The Guardian
- BBC News profile of Charles Clarke
- They Work For You - Charles Clarke MP
|- style="text-align: center;" | width="30%" |Preceded by:
David Blunkett | width="40%" style="text-align: center;" |Secretary of State for the Home Department
2004— | width="30%" |Succeeded by:
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