INSIGHT PUBLIC AFFAIRS: Paul Clark MP

Born and bred in Gillingham, Paul Clark has represented his constituency since the 1997 landslide, turning the seat red for the first time in 52 years and elevating him to the select group of so-called 'unlikely lads' who were expected at the time to be one term wonders.

Having campaigned vigorously for the high speed Channel Tunnel Rail Link, Clark makes for a Transport Minister who is particularly motivated by his subject. Going hand-in-hand with his other significant policy interest, regeneration, his appointment to the transport brief in the 2008 reshuffle was particularly appropriate.

 After a career rising through the ranks of the Trade Union movement, Clark entered Parliament leaving a job as a Centre Manager for the TUC education centre. Having played an integral role in John Prescott’s Leadership campaign in 1994, he is widely viewed as one of the Labour party ‘fixers’ – a party man through and through whose most effective behind the scenes.

 His proclivity to champion the party line and support the Blair Government led to the backhanded compliment of the most ‘loyal loyalist’ in a 2005 Parliamentary sketch. But it’s only recently that his loyalty has been rewarded with a ministerial role. PPS to Lord Irving of Lairg as Lord Chancellor, then PPS to Lord Faulkner of Thoroton in the Department for Transport and later the Home Office, Clark was finally promoted to the Whip’s office between 2003 - 2005, overseeing some of the most contentious legislation of the Blair Government.

 Following a high profile 2005 election campaign, including the infamous ‘ice cream’ visit of Blair and Brown in his Gillingham constituency, Clark was returned to Parliament with the tight margin of just 254 votes. A period as PPS to John Prescott followed, before moving to the DCFS with Ed Balls after Brown took over the premiership.  In 2008 he was appointed to the transport brief and, given that his maiden speech was on the importance of Kyoto, this appointment should give him the opportunity to put some of those previously mentioned convictions into practice.

 He faces a tough time at the next election, facing a Labour Party defector who is standing as the Conservative candidate, but Clark continues to dedicate a lot of time to constituency work, on top of his Ministerial responsibilities. Additionally, he enjoys an excellent relationship with his local media, despite the recent headline: ‘Double Hand Job for MP’ after he broke both wrists in a football injury. However, the MP for Gillingham and Rainham, with his easy going attitude, took it all in his stride. After all, the ‘one term wonder’ who was given no hope of retaining his seat already has a hat-trick of election wins, and who would bet against him doing it again?

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Register
Already registered?
Sign in