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Mr Clarke who described the current prison population of 85000 as "astonishing" faced immediate criticism from some colleagues in a party renowned for its tough stance on law and order. He has contested the Conservative Party leadership three times — in 1997 2001 and 2005 — being defeated each time. Expenses scandal
On 12 May 2009 The Daily Telegraph reported that Clarke had "flipped" his council tax.
Although he is considered[by whom?] popular with the general public his pro-European views conflict with the Conservative Party's Euro-sceptic stance. He was first elected to Parliament in 1970 and appointed as a minister in Edward Heath's Government in 1972. Notably he is President of the Conservative Europe Group and Vice-President of the European Movement UK.