Ken: I’m not gaff-prone

By Ian Dunt

Shadow business secretary Ken Clarke has hit out at media reports that he had to be disciplined by Tory central office.

The former chancellor found himself in deep water over the weekend when he called the Tories’ inheritance tax proposals an “aspiration”. Many commentators consider the phrase a euphemism for a policy which will never be implemented.

Speaking on the BBC today, Mr Clarke claimed the mark had been given far too much significance.

“It’s not true that I have a gaff strewn career,” he said.

“The reason it took off is because I used the word ‘aspiration’ instead of ‘promise’ and to the chattering classes there’s a difference there. Real people aren’t sure what the difference is.”

He continued: “I’m more laid back nowadays. I’ve been through this kind of nonsense before.”

The Tories plan to raise the threshold for inheritance tax to £1 million, a policy announcement many observers credited with Gordon Brown’s nervous decision to cancel plans for an early general election.

But many experts question how realistic the commitment is now that the public finances are in such a poor state.