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23 May 2011 2:01 PM

Tories pile pressure on Ken

Labour have made great use of their "opposition day" debates in the Commons today, picking Ken Clarke's controversial sentencing reforms as the first topic and policing and crime as the second.

It means Tory backbenchers worried their party is looking soft on law and order will have an opportunity to register their dissent in the voting lobbies.

Shipley MP Philip Davies has told the Sun he will do just that, and vote with Labour against Ken's plans.

Others are ruling out a large-scale rebellion, but will "sit on their hands" and abstain in protest - in effect refusing to back plans to slash prison sentences for criminals who make early guilty pleas.

Brigg and Goole MP Andrew Percy will be among them, saying Labour are being mischievous but telling me: "Ministers have got it wrong - they are out of step with the public on sentencing."

Another backbencher privately went further, claiming there was a growing sense that Ken would be better off elsewhere.

“A lot of people on the Tory backbenches would like to see Ken moved to a different post,” the MP said.

It's difficult to see what "different post" Ken would fit into if David Cameron decides he can't get away without a reshuffle.

Coming after his rape comments controversy last week, it is all extra pressure.

Craig Woodhouse
Follow me on Twitter @craigawoodhouse

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