Friday, June 29, 2007

Welcome back Clare?

So Clare Short has hinted that she might wish to rejoin the Labour party in Parliament following Gordon Brown’s new ‘all inclusive’ approach to politics. The question is, will Labour have her back?

Back in December 2006, in her letter of resignation of the party whip to Jacqui Smith (the then Chief Whip) Short argued that she was leaving the party because she had no confidence in the government. According to Short the government had lost its way and was no longer a ‘Labour’ administration. Less than eight months later you have to ask what has changed? Brown is still in favour of a replacement for Trident and the renewal of nuclear power plants. The government is still committed to staying the course in Iraq and the middle east is still a huge mess. Perhaps Short herself has changed? She may no longer feel that electoral reform is the key to fixing our politics and changing our country.

There is no doubt that Clare Short suffered badly from the perception that her resignation from the government over the Iraq war was less ‘timely’ and a good deal less honourable than the late Robin Cook's. Many thought that on leaving the Labour party she would join George Galloway’s Respect party or even sit with the Lib Dems – she did neither. We should not forget that Clare Short was an effective minister and as International Development secretary she did an enormous amount of good both in raising the profile of DfID and in being prepared to say unpopular things in the cause of third world development. Despite all this the Labour ‘blogosphere’ is awash with postings and comments on whether Short should be permitted to rejoin the party. According to some Labour bloggers Short is a traitor who abandoned her principles years ago in a desire to hold onto high office. Others point to the fact that Ken Livingston was allowed to rejoin the party and to Brown’s recent invitation to SDP founder Shirley Williams to play a role in advising the government on nuclear proliferation. The now former Labour party chair, Hazel Blears, has kept the door open for Short to rejoin the fold stating that “If she wants to sign up to our whip and our policies and vote for our legislation then that probably will be a great thing, but we shall see.”

So should Brown welcome Short’s change of heart? Of course he should. It would be ridiculous if, in the same week as the party welcomes a pro-hunting, anti gay rights former Tory MP it rejects someone who has been a member of the party for 36 years (24 as an MP).

Welcome back Clare!


Yozzer said...

She belongs in the party a damn sight more than Quinten Davies and Shaun Woodward.She was right about Iraq and she didn't take the easy option of joining the Lib Dems...we should welcome her back...

skipper said...

Yep, she deserves to be accepted back in- a 'welcome' doesn't really come into it. Labour has a noble history of mavericks who resigned over principle and then rejoined- Nye Bevan, Stafford Cripps and others. Quentin Davies is infinitely less acceptable than Clare- even if she is a curmudgeonly old battle axe.

Anonymous said...

No thanks!
She is not what we need, she will be going at the next election anyway so it is not worth wasting energy giving her publicity.
Why was she right about Iraq?
Iraqi people are being bombed by terrorists who want to stop a fledgling democracy, would Clare Short have said we should have left Hitler to do his thing in 1939?
Why is Clare Short right and the Iraqi government wrong?

Louise Baldock said...

Well there are two answers really, the gut reaction and the pragmatic considered response.
Gut reaction says tell her to get stuffed, pragmatic response says there is more rejoicing over the return of the lamb to the flock etc. And of course people are allowed to see the light and come back

Mike Ion said...

Yozzer - your are right, it would be a bit 'rich' to embrace our new friend Qentin but tell our old friend to bugger off.

Skipper - a curmudgeonly old battle axe indeed (though nothing when compared to Gwyneth Dunwoody)

Louise - ah, the fine line between principle and pragmatism!