Front page story in today’s Birmingham Post:
Reports Clare Short is ready to call it a day
Sep 13 2006
By Paul Dale, Chief Reporter
Firebrand Clare Short is to stand down as a Labour MP in order to campaign for proportional representation in Britain, it was reported last night.
Ms Short, who has represented Birmingham Ladywood since 1983, will apparently quit at the next General Election. Details emerged on the Birmingham-based Political Hack website, which has close links to Labour’s traditional roots.
The website quotes Ms Short speaking at a university symposium on Monday, where she reportedly said she wanted to be free to advocate a hung parliament so that the Liberal Democrats could do a deal with the next Government to ensure PR.
She is reported as saying she expected to see Labour crumble at the next election and a social democratic party rise from the ashes.
The claim she would stand down last night stunned Birmingham and West Midlands Labour officials who had no inkling of her decision.
Labour was last night desperately trying to contact Ms Short, who is at the TUC conference in Brighton. She was not answering her mobile phone and her partner, Jon Norton, said he could not comment. A West Midlands Labour spokeswoman said: “The only information we have is what is on the website.”
The former International Development Secretary, whose opposition to the Iraq war angered the Government, is quoted as telling an academic gathering at Kingston University in London that the Government she served for six years would be viewed as a failure and a historic wasted opportunity.
She did not specify that a deal to deliver PR would be conducted through a Labour Government, pointing out that proportional representation was “now in the objective interests of the Conservatives”.
Her decision is likely to spark a fierce contest for the right to become Labour candidate in one of the party’s safer inner city seats.
Ms Short enjoyed a 6,801 majority at the 2005 General Election, making Ladywood the 281st safest constituency in the country.
The decision to stand down is also likely to prompt attempts to have Ms Short thrown out of the Labour Party for apparently advocating a deal with either the Liberal Democrats or the Conservatives. She has been an outspoken critic of Mr Blair and New Labour.
In a hard-hitting speech in May she claimed members were deserting the party.
She said it was because of right-wing policies and a “cult of the leader” surrounding Tony Blair.
We don’t begrudge PoliticalHackUK (who was one of the earliest Labour bloggers out there) some free publicity, though the Post do seem to have ripped off entire paragraphs from our original story without credit. Still, at least they did acknowledge that the story emanated from a blog, which is one up on the Independent.