Sunday, September 17, 2006

Clare Short and "the third party"

The Birmingham Post has been speculating that Clare Short may be about to join the Liberal Democrats. I don't believe it. Not least because, as one Lib Dem blogger pointed out (I can't find the posting now), she could not bring herself even to mention the party in her piece in the Indpendent:
Cabinet government has gone, the House of Commons - with guillotines on all business - is weak and ineffective, and the rise of the third party means our electoral system is ever-more distorted.
No doubt the Liberal Democrats will continue to attract recruits from other parties, and in many cases we should welcome them. But I have never been one to accept Clare Short at her own estimation. To me she has never been the too-principled-for-her-own-good politician she likes to present herself as.

I think Matthew d'Ancona in today's Sunday Telegraph has it about right:
Clare Short, who is standing down as a Labour MP, may now be "profoundly ashamed" of the consequences of the "New Labour coup". But she wasn't so "ashamed" of the "coup" to turn down a Cabinet post in 1997, or to keep it for six years.

Now she drones on about "the extremism of US neoconservative foreign policy". I remember her holding forth with no less vigour about Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction and the need to destroy them in the prelude to Desert Fox, the air campaign against Iraq in 1998. For Ms Short, and many others like her, New Labour was always a badge of convenience, about which she eventually changed her mind. She is the true opportunist.

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