Thursday, September 14, 2006

Short Change

I hold no particular brief for Claire Short, She has often appeared a bit naive - and has been a serial resigner form Labour's front bench. Nevertheless she is clearly an honest and well meaning sort of politician and does have a genuine following in the country. She is an all too human antidote to the machine politicians of both Labour and increasingly the Tories.

I was therefore rather struck by her comments as she announced that she will stand down as a Labour MP at the next election. Her contempt for Blair and Brown was obvious. She lambasted them both- not just for Iraq or for the mess of ID cards and the trespasses that they have launched against civil liberties and, perhaps more significantly on their failure to deliver PR- which she sees as a central question in British politics.

As for Cameron, she condemned him too as a shallow PR merchant.

Claire Short represents a significant faction in the Labour Party- a faction that both Robin Cook and Mo Mowlam were a part of. This is not an insignificant faction: Denis McShane, Bob Marshall Andrews, are public critics of the government, but over 100 other Labour M.Ps support electoral reform too.

The obvious anger that Short feels towards the Blair-Brown government have driven her to contemplate leaving the Labour Party and perhaps standing as an independent.

It strikes me, that the few pebbles that Claire Short is throwing around could start an avalanche.

The tide for political reform in Britain may be turning- it will be interesting to watch how other Labour figures react to this clarion call for reform.


Rk said...

I think you could be right.
When the leadership contest eventually comes around I think we will see the labour party split along these lines, but it will take someone with more authority than Clare Short to get the ball rolling. The thing is I don’t see anyone from this wing of the party with enough gravitas and enough of public profile to serious challenge.
Now had Robin Cook still been around things might be different, I don’t think he would have won but it would have made for a livelier contest.

James said...

I think that your post is a bit optimistic. The problem with Claire Short is that as you say she is well known as being a 'serial resigner' - but crucially she ended up supporting the attack on Iraq after some absurd dithering.

I expect you've heard the joke at that time: 'Claire Short couldn't decide whether she was dove or hawk, so she ended up as a dork'
Quite frankly, it's a cruel but fair comment on her entire career.