Saturday, October 21, 2006

A short tragedy, a long, drawn-out debacle or another Iraq martyr?

Clare Short has quit the PLP but not the Labour Party. Old news I know. I expect that experts in the history of the party will be able to tell us if there’s a precedent. Those who know the rule books backwards will be able to give an opinion as to whether those mighty tomes allow for such an anomaly (I’m rather of the ‘Rules are for blind obedience by fools and the guidance of wise men’ school of thought but there we are).

Such opinions may have more or less credence than those about the legality or not of the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Like that debate, they may be of great interest to a few but are likely to be of little consequence to most of us.

It’s a shame that she’s come to this; her heart has often been in the right place but she lacks the subtleness of touch necessary to be a successful politician. She reminds me somewhat of the intensely passionate leftwing people I knew at University in the early 1970s. One of them suggested that only ‘thinking people’ be allowed to vote in student elections. I knew what she meant but my pragmatism made me see some difficulties in implementing this admirable policy.

I never thought that Clare was much good as a minister and her constituent Scribbles has suggested she isn’t a very effective constituency MP. But she’s not the worst MP in the House and the party needs some strident voices to keep debate healthy. What I’ve never liked about her, though, is her apparently insatiable appetite for self-publicity. That and the fact that she gets well paid by the media for rubbishing the party that gave her her fame.

Back to Iraq. As with too many others, the war seems to have poisoned her mind and made her blind to pretty much everything else. I don’t know whether the invasion was a Good Thing or a Bad Thing (but it was certainly a Bush Thing). I can’t decide whether it would have been Better or Worse had Britain not joined Bush’s coalition. I’m glad I wasn’t an MP who had to decide which way to vote.

Life doesn’t present us with black and white choices or simple answers. But Clare and her like can’t seem to grasp this simple truth. They seem to be as depressingly certain as Tony Blair seems to be on this issue.

Me, the pragmatist, thinks ‘we are where we are’ which way should we go now? But I’m certainly not certain I know The Right Answer...


At 12:30, Blogger Disillusioned and Bored said...

An absolute disgrace. Check out her 2005 election leaflet here. I would be outraged if I had voted for her at the last election.

At 16:05, Blogger Bob Piper said...

I wouldn't disagree with much of what you say. However, in her defence, which very few people are offering, Clare had been the International Development Secretary arguing in her usual strident fashion, (is it only women who are ever called 'strident') for humanitarian relief for Iraqi children who had suffered from 10 years of UN sanctions and US bombing, killing half a million one way or another. She went along with the Blair WMD nonsense, but just couldn't stomach it when she realised it was absolute tosh, and that no-one had any plans for reconstruction beyond fencing off the oil fields and divvying up Saddam's remaining assets for US multi-nationals.

I wish all of those so ready to condemn her would consider your point: Life doesn’t present us with black and white choices or simple answers.... but I'm afraid they usually only reserve that defence to the invaders.

At 17:05, Blogger Hughes Views said...

Disillusioned... welcome, thanks for the comment - I'm too old to be outraged!

Bob, yes she did try to do some good things in amongst some not so good ones. It's a shame she didn't know how to 'do' politics better or how to make more friends. I feel more sorry for than angry about her now; she seems so horribly embittered...


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