Saturday, October 21, 2006

Clare Short Resigns Labour Whip

Clare Short has resigned the Labour whip and intends to spend the rest of this Parliamentary term as an "Independent Labour" MP. She has already said that she will not stand at the next election. As I understand it, she could still remain a member of the Labour Party (I have glanced at the Labour Party rules and there doesn't seem to be anything covering this). However, she has already said she intends to "campaign for a hung Parliament" at the next election. As several people have pointed out, this is rather bizarre: how do you campaign for a hung Parliament? It isn't an option on the ballot paper. But a hung Parliament must mean that at least 35 or so Labour MP's lose their seats and it is against the rules to support candidates of other parties. So there are clear grounds for the NEC to expel her. It is all rather a pity. Always somewhat eccentric there was a time when she was respected for being "outspoken", but her performance over Iraq won her no friends. The anti-war left despaired that she didn't resign in March 2003 over the war. It helped Blair tremendously that she did not resign then (and earned her the sobriquet of "Blair's useful idiot"). Her later resignation over "reconstruction" and (clearly justified) attacks on Blair's style of government didn't impress the left, and obviously angered the Blairites. From what I can gather she has few friends within the Labour Party, and party loyalists of every hue are pretty pissed off by the idea that it would be a good idea for the Liberal-Democrats to gain seats at Labour's expense. Yet, a hung Parliament does have some merits: it is hard to see otherwise how electoral reform can be achieved. It is also very much a possible outcome of the next election. But the very, very considerable downside is that, with the Liberal-Democrats steering to the right and rediscovering "economic liberalism", and Cameron posing as a centrist, it is also quite posible that a hung Parliament could produce a Blueish Blue-Yellow coalition. As for Clare, I suspect she will turn to TV punditry.


Blogger skipper said...

Good post. I think you are right re Clare's possible political destination. Not sure that growly voice would translate too well onto televsion though.

8:52 pm  

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