Kenneth Clarke

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This article is part of the Tobacco portal on Sourcewatch funded from 2006 - 2009 by the American Legacy Foundation.

Kenneth Clarke, a British Conservative Party MP, is also non-executive deputy chairman of British American Tobacco (BAT) and chair of its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Committee. For his role with BAT Clarke is paid £150,000 a year plus £21,000 of benefits in kind. [1]

BAT Role Damaged Clarke's Leadership Bid

In early 2006, Clarke signalled that we would campaign to be elected as the leader of the Conservative Party. His supporters suggested he would resign the BAT role only if elected leader.

The Observer reported that a BAT document from 2000 states "the process [of CSR] will not only help BAT achieve a position of recognised responsibility, but also provide 'air cover' from criticism while improvements are being made." [2]

Writing in the Guardian, George Monbiot argues that while not suggesting that Clarke had done anything illegal or in breach of the criminal code, he shouldn't be able to duck responsibility for BAT activities. "It seems to me that in a fair world - a world in which human life was valued by our legislators - he would not now be contemplating the leadership of Her Majesty's opposition. He would be behind bars," Monbiot wrote. [3]

Writing in the U.K. newspaper the Guardian, Simon Bowers, noted the comment from British Conservative Party leadership hopeful Kenneth Clarke and chair of British American Tobacco's corporate social responsibility committee that the company has "become more controversial since I went on the board." [4]

Bowers contacted BAT wanting to know if Clarke's view was shared by the board as a whole. "What Ken said was not meant in any particularly negative way. It was a comment on the public perception of BAT," they told him. As to whether the company had become more controversial during Clarke's eight year stint on the board the spokeswoman was insistent. "No, certainly not," she said. When asked about doing business in Burma at the company's annual general meeting two years ago Clarke admitted it was "not one of the most attractive governments in the world." [5]

Part of Clarke's role for BAT is to try and persuade other political and busines movers and shakers on the company's corporate social responsibility credentials. In September 2005 Clarke was scheduled to address the annual Strasbourg visit of the British Chamber of Commerce which the organisers had promoted as being a "contentious debate" on "whether business should be regulated, or left to take the initiative [to regulate itself]." However, Clarke withdrew from the event which some attributed to concern by him that it could damage his leadership bid. [6]

Writing in the Times, David Aaronovitch suggests that Clarkes role with BAT is "immoral." After noting that Clarke was former Health Secretary at the time that the British Medical Association first called for a ban on smoking in public places, he points out that "to non-Clarkes the causal pattern is absurdly clear: smoking causes early death in many smokers, BAT sells cigarettes, therefore BAT makes money out of making people ill and Ken makes money out of BAT."

"But perhaps he deals with this by calculating that the cancer is only putative and a way down the road. The heart disease is only possible and is distant. The bony chap with the scythe and dark robes is still a shadow. In the meantime Clarkes have to live, drive cars, eat good food and wear fedoras'," Aaronovitch wrote.[7]

Phillip Morris considered Clarke and ally in opposition to a European-proposed ban on tobacco advertising. Beginning in 1998, Clarked received UK 100,000 pounds/yr to serve as a deputy chairman of British American Tobacco while simultaneously serving in the UK House of Commons.(UK Guardian, Aug. 22, 2001)

Opposition to wind farms

Speaking at a conference hosted by the centre-right Policy Exchange think tank Clarke said onshore wind farms were "not suitable" for the UK.[2] He was later forced to retract his comments.

SourceWatch Resources

External links

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  1. Modern Europe People, organizational web page, accessed March 1, 2015 .
  2. "[8]"