Charles Rodway Clarke (born 21 September 1950) is a British Labour Party politician, who was the Member of Parliament (MP) for Norwich South from 1997 until 2010, and served as Home Secretary from December 2004 until May 2006.The son of Civil Service Permanent Secretary Sir Richard Clarke, Charles Clarke was born in London.He attended the fee-paying Highgate School where he was Head Boy.
A member of the Broad Left faction, he was President of the National Union of Students from 1975 to 1977.Clarke had joined the Labour Party by then and was active in the Clause Four group.Clarke was the British representative on the Permanent Commission for the World Youth Festival (Cuba) from 1977 to 1978.He was elected as a local councillor in the London Borough of Hackney, being Chair of its Housing Committee and Vice-Chair of economic development from 1980 to 1986.But I don't think that we will have the level of funding that we do now for universities unless we can justify it on some kind of basis of the type I have described." Clarke was made Home Secretary, one of the senior positions in the Cabinet.
He was swiftly at the centre of attention for his advocacy of proposals for countering terrorism.
Critics suggest that his reforms to the judicial system undermine centuries of British legal precedent dating back to the 1215 Magna Carta, particularly the right to a fair trial and trial by jury.
He was also criticised for the Identity Cards Act 2006, seen by some as serious infringement of privacy, but Clarke insisted that identity cards were necessary to combat terrorism.
He worked as a researcher, and later Chief of Staff, for Labour Party leader Neil Kinnock from February 1981 to 1992.
His long association with Kinnock and with the general election defeat in 1992 was expected to handicap him in his career. He spent the mid-1990s away from national politics, working in the private sector – from 1992 to 1997, he was chief executive of Quality Public Affairs, a public affairs management consultancy – and subsequently emerged as a high flyer under the Labour leadership of Tony Blair.
Elected to the British House of Commons in the Labour landslide of 1997, Clarke served just over a year on the back benches before joining the government as a junior education minister in July 1998.