Charles Clarke was born, the son of the late Sir Richard Clarke and Lady Brenda Clarke, on September 21st 1950 in London. He attended Highgate School and King’s College, Cambridge.
Like Jack Straw, Charles Clarke is a former President of the National Union of Students.
Charles Clarke has been MP for Norwich South since 1997.
The early 1980s were a busy time for Clarke. His time-sheets for 1981-3 would be fascinating. It seems that from 1981-83 Clarke was a part-time adult education maths lecturer at the City Literary Institute; from 1981-1982 he was an organiser of the Community Challenge Conference, Gulbenkian Fund; from 1981 to 1983 he was also Researcher to Neil Kinnock, MP; and meanwhile from 1980-1986 Clarke was a councillor with the London Borough of Hackney, and held office as Chair of Housing and Vice-Chair of Economic Development.
Later, Charles Clarke continued his important association with Neil Kinnock and was his Chief of Staff from 1983 to 1992 whilst Kinnock was leader of the Labour Party and transformed it from the far-left party of Michael Foot to a more centrist approach.
In the 1990s, Charles Clarke was Chief Executive, Quality Public Affairs 1992-97, a public affairs management consultancy. In 1998 as an MP he disclosed the members interests: Registrable shareholdings in a) Quality Public Affairs; public affairs management consultancy (non-trading); and b) Quality Public Services; management consultancy (non-trading).
In July 1998, Charles Clarke was made Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Education and Employment.
In July 1999, Clarke became Minister of State, The Home Office.
After Labour’s re-election in June 2001, Charles Clarke took on the role of Minister without Portfolio and Party Chair.
Charles Clarke’s rise since his relatively late arrival in Parliament continued unabated when, in November 2002, he was appointed Secretary of State for Education and Skills.
In December 2004, Clarke was made Home Secretary. Ironically, just days before Charles Clarke was revealed as one of the ministers criticised in a new biography by the outgoing Home Secretary, David Blunkett, who said Charles Clarke had gone ‘soft’ on schools standards.
In April 2006, it was revealed that Charles Clarke had told Tony Blair that he was ready to resign over the bungle that saw 1,023 foreign prisoners released but not considered for removal from the UK.
At first Clarke stayed in his post, even in the face of a drip-drip-drip effect of negative media coverage, however after the poor Labour Party showing in the local elections of May 4 2006, Charles Clarke was sacked as Home Secretary, and as he refused other posts, he returned to the backbenches.
Charles Clarke issued a statement that said:
” … The prime minister, as is his right and responsibility, has made the judgement that my continued occupation of the post of home secretary is likely to stand in the way of the continued reforms which remain necessary and though I do not agree with that judgement, I entirely accept his right to make it.
“However, I do not think it would be appropriate to remain in government in these circumstances and return to the backbenches, where I will be a strong and active supporter of this government and the leadership of Tony Blair for his full parliamentary term …”
In September 2006, Charles Clarke made public his criticism of Gordon Brown regarding the rift with Tony Blair.
Charles Clarke told The Telegraph Gordon Brown has “psychological” issues and that he was a “control freak”.