Intended for healthcare professionals


Why Kenneth Clarke is unfit to be Tory leader

BMJ 2005; 331 doi: (Published 13 October 2005) Cite this as: BMJ 2005;331:912
  1. Mike Daube, professor of health policy (
  1. Curtin University of Technology, Perth, Western Australia

    Benjamin Disraeli, the father of modern Conservatism, wrote, “The first consideration of a minister should be the health of the people.” Now, a prominent candidate for the Conservative Party leadership is Kenneth Clarke, deputy chairman of British American Tobacco (BAT).

    BAT is the world's second biggest tobacco company, selling more than 850 billion cigarettes annually. Clarke is a central figure in the company, has been a well paid deputy chairman for seven years, and energetically promotes the company and its products around the world. He has been actively involved in BAT's efforts to undermine the tobacco control work of organisations such as the World Health Organization and the European Union.

    He defends his company's activities with lines tobacco manufacturers have used for 50 years: “BAT did not want to sell their products to children and did not aim their products at children.” This lacks credibility in London, let alone in developing countries, where children know little about the dangers of smoking but cannot miss BAT's aggressive advertising.

    If he is elected, companies such as BAT will flourish with access at the highest levels

    Clarke even (for an extra £25 000 ($44 035; €36 315)) became …

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