Peter Hoskin

The Sun gives Clarke a kicking

The Sun gives Clarke a kicking
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It may not be The Sun wot won or lost the last election, but its readers did swing heavily from Labour to the Tories and, even, to the Lib Dems. Which is why No.10 will not be untroubled by the paper's cover today. "Get out of jail free," it blasts, marking what Tim Montgomerie calls the "beginning [of] a campaign against Ken Clarke's prisons policy." And it doesn't get any kinder inside. Their editorial on the issue ends, "Mr Clarke and Mr Cameron owe Britain an explanation."

It captures a strange split in the government's approach to crime. When it comes to catching crooks, the coalition is putting forward policies – such as elected police commissioners – that will go some way to ensuring the public get what they want. But when it comes to putting crooks behind bars, the coalition seems to be operating against public opinion. With The Sun, and others, on the case, it will be very difficult for the coalition to sway hearts and minds in their favour.

Tim quotes a senior Downing Street source claiming that, "the Lib Dems aren't to blame for this prisons policy. This is Ken, Ken, Ken being an awkward sh*t." Expect more internal disgruntlement in due course.