Peter Clarke - Turkey
Why is Peter Clarke not famous ? He burst into my life in 1997 as a gift from the gods. Had the entire Newport West Labour Party gone off on holiday for the 1997 General election campaign we would have still won a resounding victory- thanks to Peter.
Too intelligent and creative to qualify as a Turkey, his heroic chutzpah qualifies him as a Herkey. A few days after he was adopted as my Tory opponent, I raised a point or Order in the Commons about an article he had written in the Scottish Edition of The Sunday Times,
“It is many years since anyone was called to the Bar of the House, but Erskine May makes clear your powers to summons here those who besmirch the good names of members. Have you read, Madam Speaker, the attack on the Secretary of State for Wales (William Hague) in which he was unfairly described as ‘deluded’ and ‘simple’? For his fine work in bringing
6,000 Korean jobs to Wales he was accused of ‘pimping for Britain.’
Will you now call to the bar of the House and insist on an apology from the Conservative candidate for Newport West. ?”
There were even better things to come. Peter was a candidate in East Lothian in 1987. In the course of a brief campaign he advocated, declaring war on South Africa, the privatisation of police and fire brigades, lowering the school leaving age to twelve, ending all dole or social security payments, the abolition of all local councils, a tax on golf, and the demolition of all un-sold council houses.
He is remembered in Scotland for saying that ‘General Pinochet must be our inspiration’ and that ‘Enoch Powell is the greatest Welshman of all time’. He described Mrs Thatcher’s conduct on the Anglo Irish Agreement as ‘treacherous and foolish’ and threatened to stand as an Orangeman’s candidate in East Lothian. He also volunteered to serve in the American Calvary but was rejected.
There was only one public debate at St Mark’s Church in the heart of Newport in the 1997 election. Arthur Scargill was one of speakers as a candidate in Newport East. Arthur’s plan to double pensions ‘next Thursday’ seemed measured and reasonable compared with Clarke’s novel remedy.
His answer to pensioner poverty was to ‘ship all Newport pensioners to Eritrea.’ The audience were white faced with shock. He did not fully explain to the audience the advantages to the elderly. But he told me afterwards,
“On a British state pension someone in Eritrea could afford the best mud hut in the village or the finest meal of locusts that money could buy. “
He accurately captured the misery of life as a Tory candidate in a hopeless seat ‘surrounded by octogenarian ladies reminiscing about when they were canvassing for Stanley Baldwin.’
In Wales on Sunday newspaper on the April 27th, four days before polling day, Peter Clarke complained that he had been the victim of menacing phone calls. They were the latest in a series of incidents since
‘..he helped fund a manifesto produced by Scottish Conservative Students that advocated a relaxation of the incest laws.’
Wales on Sunday quoted him .
‘Malicious and unfounded allegations that I am a paedophile have followed me around ever since. The reason I am standing in Newport is that I am barred from standing in Scotland, where I am from, because of these malicious allegations.’
On Sundays the Labour Campaign Team in Newport West meet to discuss the week’s strategy. After reading Wales on Sunday on April 27th many of our team decamped to the marginal seat of Monmouth.
The Labour majority doubled in Newport West to 14,800. Monmouth was gained from Tory Roger Evans. Will you be candidate next time, Peter? Please.