British ex minister Clare Short quits Labour, sick of Blair

Bush, Blair, and Iraq war, cartoon

From British daily The Guardian:

Short resigns from Labour party

Bonnie Malkin and agencies

Friday October 20, 2006

The relationship between Clare Short and the Labour party hit a new low today, after the former international development secretary resigned the Labour whip.

The outspoken ex-cabinet minister told Sky News that she was resigning because the House of Commons was “weak” and too much power was “concentrated in No 10”.

She said that her decision was influenced by a series of rebukes from the chief whip, Jacqui Smith.

“I was reflecting the views of the country and she tells me I can’t say it,” Ms Short said. …

The move comes as the latest in a long line of disagreements between Ms Short and the party.

Since 2003, she has been at odds with the government over her opposition to the war in Iraq, which led to her quitting the cabinet.

Since leaving the cabinet she has become a frequent critic of the prime minister.

Last month Ms Short, 60, announced that she would resign at the next election and campaign for a hung parliament because she was “profoundly ashamed” of the Labour government.

In an article in the Independent, Ms Short said that New Labour was arrogant, lacked principle and displayed “incredible” incompetence.

She wrote that the future of British politics should be a hung parliament which would encourage electoral reform and said that Labour should hold a third of the seats, the Tories a third and the rest should be made up of Greens and other parties.

Ms Smith retaliated on that occasion by referring her conduct to the party chair and the general secretary.

In her resignation letter to Ms Smith, dated yesterday, Ms Short said that she wished to become an “independent Labour MP” and remained “a convinced social democrat”.

“It is my view that our political system is in trouble and that the exaggerated majorities in the House of Commons have led to an abject parliament and a concentration of power in No 10 that has produced arrogant, error-prone government,” the letter reads.

It also accuses Ms Smith of attempting to stop Ms Short criticising Tony Blair’s “series of half-truths and deceits to get us to war in Iraq“.

“In the circumstances I think the best way to ensure that I can put forward my views for my remaining time in parliament is for me to resign the whip.

“I will therefore sit in the House of Commons as an independent Labour MP.”

See also here.

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