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Today's splash isn't a one off protest; The Sun is beginning a campaign against Ken Clarke's prisons policy

Tim Montgomerie

Timthumb.phpFor the first time since the Coalition was formed The Sun really goes for Cameron this morning. The front page splash is a direct attack on the government's prisons policy.

Ken Clarke is described as "misguided", "out of touch" and a "handwringing social worker".

The newspaper then links Mr Clarke to David Cameron's promises:

"A key part of the PM's argument for trusting the Conservatives again was that they would be firmer on crime than Labour. So why is he indulging Mr Clarke's folly and nodding through huge changes to prison and sentencing policy that will produce the opposite of what we were promised? No wonder victims of crime, particularly the families of loved ones lost to knife attacks, will feel bewildered and betrayed. Mr Clarke and Mr Cameron owe Britain an explanation."

A senior source in Downing Street recently described Ken Clarke as a "rogue agent". "In truth," I was told, "the Lib Dems aren't to blame for this prisons policy. This is Ken, Ken, Ken being an awkward sh*t."

Andy Coulson had attempted to water down Ken Clarke's policy but without, it seems, much success. The Lib Dems may not have driven the policy but they give the Justice Secretary all the cover he needs.

An executive at News International tells me this morning that today's Sun frontpage and leader are just the beginning. Expect more tomorrow, I'm told, and coverage every time someone offends who should be in prison. The executive confesses that The Sun had been too loyal to Labour, well after its sell by date. "We are not going to be so slavish to the Coalition. The fixing Broken Britain agenda was a key reason why we endorsed the Conservatives. We have to stand up for Sun readers on this one."

It will be interesting to see if Ed Miliband brings the issue up at PMQs today. David Miliband was much closer to the Jack Straw/ Michael Howard position on law and order but this is an open goal for the embattled Labour leader.


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