Exclusive: Clare Short to step down amid controversy

The Daily can exclusively reveal today that Clare Short does not intend to stand for re-election in her Birmingham Ladywood seat.

In a controversial speech to an academic symposium this afternoon, she said that she wanted to be free to advocate a hung parliament so that the Lib Dems could “do a deal” to ensure PR. She did not specify that the deal would be with Labour, and pointedly noted that “PR is now in the objective interests of the Conservatives”. She expected to see “the Labour Party crumble as the Tories did [in 1997]” but a social democratic party to rise from the ashes.

Of the Government in which she served for six years she said, “it will be viewed as a failure, a historic wasted opportunity” and attributed to Gordon Brown the explanation that, “the only two Departments that are not run out of Number Ten are DfID and the Treasury”.

There will be an all women shortlist for the selection of a new Labour candidate in Birmingham Ladywood, which has always been regarded as one of Labour’s safest seats, though there was a significant swing against Short in 2005 and the boundaries have been redrawn.

Birmingham is already likely to see a controversial selection season, with three sitting MPs covering the full spectrum of West Midlands Labour politics – Government Whip Steve McCabe, old right former GMB official Roger Godsiff and Campaign Grouper Lynne Jones – fighting it out for the two redrawn seats of Hall Green and Selly Oak.

If Short openly advocates voting against Labour candidates, she is open to disciplinary action that will include expulsion from the Party.


24 Responses to Exclusive: Clare Short to step down amid controversy

  1. Andrea says:

    She wants to be controversial until the end, doesn’t she?!

    I think she has already mentioned (earlier this year) the need of a hungh Parliament.
    Not sure what she exactly means for “free to advocate a hung Parliament”…it can be just saying “I hope there’ll be a hung parliament because it can achive X,Y,Z” or saying not to vote Lab candidates in marginals (so what you suggest in the last paragraph and the consequences of that action)

    The 2006 local elections in Ladywood wards have been pretty good for Labour.

  2. Andrea says:

    On reflection, is the All Women Shortlist a sure thing? Seats where female MPs are stepping down usually get an AWS, but there have been a couple of special exceptions in the past. I recall that in Dewsbury (where Ann Taylor was standing down) was given an open shortlist to allow them to pick an ethnic minority candidate. Can the same thing happen in Ladywood where there’s a large Muslim population?

  3. Ladywood certainly looks a solidly Labour seat, despite a falling majority and the new boundaries.

    Our source in the West Midlands Labour Party thinks that it will be an AWS – but the NEC could grant a special exemption on the grounds you mention.

    However, the West Midlands has the worst record of any region on selecting female Labour candidates in winnable seats (some would say that it’s no coincidence that Labour First practically run the Region) so they will be under the spotlight on it.

  4. Al says:

    Short has only lasted this long because most factions in her CLP hate each other more than they hate her.

    Out of interest, which M.P’s in Brum are trying to get re-selected in which seats?

  5. Andrea says:

    politicalcorrespondent. Thanks.

    Al.. with the trigger ballot system, you usually must be very hated to get deselected.
    Interesting comment about CLP factions hating each other so much…hopefully the selection process won’t be too divisive.

  6. It’s quite a complicated one – the three MPs I mention above are all effectively competing for two new seats – Selly Oak and Hall Green, both of which contain bits of all three of these MPs’ existing seats. They have not yet declared in which seats they will each be seeking re-selection.

    The boundary changes are complex, but it’s likely that Godsiff will stand in Hall Green, which should be safe and contains nearly half of his old seat; Lynne Jones is more likely to stand in Selly Oak where most of her constituency remains; and Steve McCabe is most likely to stand against her as most of his old seat is now in the new Selly Oak; but both could also stand in Hall Green.

  7. Andrea says:

    “Hall Green, which should be safe”

    Hall Green isn’t safe anymore. It’s a LD target. And it’s even more complex because of the strong Respect presence in the 2 wards coming from the old Sparkbrook (they won the Sparkbrook ward last May).

  8. Yes, sorry – the result of trying to cut down a long and complicated explanation about the boundaries into something manageable! Hall Green is a possible Lib Dem target and this may incline McCabe towards Selly Oak.

    Trigger ballots have proved controversial in this area before – Godsiff’s was a bit of an event last time round, though he won fairly comfortably in the end.

    There are going to be forces brought to bear here, with the connections that all three MPs have – most notably McCabe, not only a Govt Whip himself but partner of Fiona Gordon, the Secretary of the PLP and former Director of the West Midlands Labour Party. But Jones and Godsiff have their own allies on the left and the old right respectively.

  9. Not impressed that Clare has decided to turn on her party. Not impressed at all.

    Any seats where a Labour MP chooses to stand down SHOULD be an AWS. That’s the view from on high at region. That said, you never know.

    Roger Godsiff will almost certainly grab the new Hall Green seat – he has the membership numbers to make him the first-choice candidate, so leaving Lynne Jones and Steve McCabe to fight over Selly Oak. That will be a much closer fight and will probably come down to the vote on the night. I suspect that Lynne will pay the price for her independent mind and will be the odd one out. This could give her a way out.

  10. As for the trigger ballot – it won’t get a sitting MP deselected. You have to be REALLY loathed for it to happen. Trust me on that.

    As far as I know, the northern tranche of the City is intact – Mahmood in Perry Barr, Simon in Erdington and Byrne in Hodge Hill – and Burden is safe in Northfield. I doubt that any of them are planning to step down anytime soon. The only vacancy is in Yardley, currently held by the LDs.

  11. Sources close to the West Midlands Regional Office expect an AWS, though it’s not written in stone.

    At one point the boundary change made Yardley distinctly promising for a Labour candidate, but the Lib Dems successfully appealed, on fairly dubious grounds, and I can’t see much prospect of unseating John Hemming now. But I suppose a Jones bid in Ladywood is not impossible if she’s out-manoeuvred in Selly Oak.

    I concur with the rest of your analysis.

  12. Yardley is a possible gain – no more than that. It will probably go LD again, but local factors will come into play, so you never know. It is a vacancy because there is no candidate or front-runner.

    My sources (probably the same as yours) say that the rules mean that Ladywood should be AWS, but it is true that rules were made to be broken.

  13. […] A blog thus far unknown to me, The Daily, claims Short will not run again, and will use her new found independence to urge a coalition government with the aim of delivering Proportional Representation. […]

  14. Mal Speake says:

    Very interesting as they say. If Lynne Jones doen’t get Selly Oak (perish the thought) then I think a number of us would welcome her in Ladywood. It would give us the opportunity for a new start and unite the party with a proven candidate.

  15. You do wonder where Clare Short’s going to turn next to try and absolve herself over the Iraq war. This is genuinely ridiculous.

    I’m a former youth officer for LCER but I do think that Short is one of several people whose belief in the healing powers of PR is now taking on an almost supernatural dimension.

    I’m sure her next line will be: “Touch the 10 metre long ballot paper and you’re gonna be healed.”

    You heard it here first.

  16. Andrea says:

    It has been picked up by the Indy now (the Pandora column)

  17. So it seems, though I notice that they didn’t credit us. Insert rant about mainstream press slagging off blogs while simultaneously stealing our stories and passing them off as their own here.

    Still – good spot Andrea, and thanks muchly for letting us know!

  18. Nick says:

    I have to say that I’m looking forward to Clare Short’s campaign for PR. She can address fringe meetings at Conference with the rousing cry “Vote for PR and watch your party crumble to dust! Otherwise, I’ll take my ball home and go and play with the Tories instead…”

    It does almost sound as if she was trying to blame the electoral system for her own failure to resign over the war…

  19. On the Iraq war, Short said that it would cause “a cycle of violence, war and death for decades to come”. She blamed it on a neo-con foreign policy. Which does beg the question of just why she supported the war for so long at the time…

  20. Crossland says:

    One problem for lynne in the new Selly Oak is that out of the Four original wards, the most pro Lynne (moseley /kings heath) is now in Hall green .

    The two that are in the new Selly Oak I would rate as Selly Oak – pro lynne and Bournville -at best ambivalent.

    So the new Boundary effectively splits the Pro lynne vote in the worst way for her with her largest and third largest support going into the tougher constituency .

    Another issue is that many of her supporters who help in elections are not actually in the labour party any more.

  21. “In addition to the arrogance and lack of principle of New Labour, there is an incredible incompetence. Policy is announced from No 10 to grab media attention and nothing is properly thought through.”

    High praise indeed, from the worst political tactician in 21st century British politics.

    Short is in danger of becoming a bourgeois liberal version of Kilroy but without the jokes.

  22. Nick says:

    “Short attacks attention-grabbing antics” does convey a brilliant lack of self-awareness, doesn’t it?

  23. […] Serious political blog, The Daily, has this exclusive on the retirement of Clare Short. editor[at]recessmonkey.com MessageSpace Advertising Tagged with: Clare Short, Labour. […]

  24. […] Short will apparently be standing down as an MP at the next election, in order to “be free to advocate a hung parliament so that the Lib Dems could “do a […]

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