Cameron must owe the fat tobacco company shill, big time, to have prolonged his career by giving him the Justice Ministry. Nothing he has announced since becoming minister has made any sense in the real world.
In Whitehall World, by getting early Treasury approval for his department's budget, he has won the right to sit in judgment on his fellow ministers' efforts. Hoorah for him. Years of top-level experience distilled down to winning a tactical advantage for inter-departmental squabbling.
Clarke's two major announcements have been to cut short jail sentences, comprehensively slammed even by the Bitchy Boys, so that's own-goal number one. Now, realizing that he has seriously pissed off the Tory rank-and-file, he is to announce a "40-hour week" for prisoners to work to pay damages to their victims.
Hmm. Let's see. Unless it's decidedly un-"progressive" walking the treadmill, picking oakum, or breaking stones, any prison work is likely to constitute disloyal competition for non-criminals working to pay for the roof over their heads and to feed themselves.
Plus it would be condemned by the European Commission, which Clarke loves as only a man who has lobbied it on behalf of a multinational can.
All in all, a remarkably stupid idea, illustrating only the contempt Clarke has for what he conceives to be the "right wing" of the Tory party, which he appears to believe is still the old hanging and flogging brigade of the 1950s - which, come to think of it, were his formative years.