Ken must stay

 

 

The Sun, not famed for its subtlety, has decided to once again turn it ire on Justice Secretary Ken Clarke. They describe him as “a bumbling liability who seems keener to rock the boat than safeguard the streets.”

This is an utterly ridiculous sentiment, not only because Clarke is one of the cabinet members who has best bridged the gap between the two coalition partners, but because his civil libertarian, humane, restorative, approach to justice is vital in a civilised society. Locking people up and throwing away the key no longer works. It probably never has. Clarke advocates a society where people can atone and improve. The Sun advocates fear.

The Sun’s criticism principally revolves around Ken Clarke’s objection to the Conservative pre-election pledge that everybody found guilty of a knife crime would go to prison by default. Even without the huge issue of overcrowded prisons, it is not clear that automatic imprisonment, in the form advocated by Home Secretary Theresa May, is necessarily the right policy. There are  arguably some offenders who would be more of a danger to the public if they were caught under the blanket rule, sent to prison, and then released having been around more hardened criminals.

Knife crime is a deeply emotive, and important, subject. The consequences of it change people’s life in a second. The  Sun does make one sensible point when they says that there needs to more education in schools around knife crime. However, because it is such an emotive subject, it is so irresponsible to run headlines and stories like the one in the Sun today. They are whipping up a frenzy by using the personal story of Ben Kinsella, and the work his sister is doing for the Government. They are trying to paint a deeply experienced and talented minister as dodderry and out of touch.

The only comfort is that being attacked by the The Sun is probably the best endorsement the Justice Secretary’s policies could receive.

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