London – Las week she told sorrowfully of the “sleepless nights” she had suffered over the prospect of war in Iraq.
But Cabinet rebel Clare Short reacted furiously yesterday when asked why she had put her job ahead of conscience by voting in favour of conflict.
The Overseas Development Minister is a well-known sceptic of war in the Gulf – yet refused to join the 121 Labour MPs who rebelled in the House of Commons over the issue on Wednesday night.
ANGRY: Ms Short
Could it be that Ms Short, who would almost certainly have had to resign her cushy job as a Cabinet minister if she had not backed Prime Minister Tony Blair, is not the woman of conscience she had led us to believe?
Asked by the Daily Mirror for her thoughts on the historic rebellion by Labour MPs, she angrily refused to comment. Outside her £1.5million home in Clapham, South London, she stormed: “How dare you come to my house. It’s rude and it’s inappropriate.”
Shaking with rage, she pointed her finger at me and said: “I will never speak to YOU – ever, ever, ever, ever.”
The Mirror had gone to her house to ask how she could reconcile her well-known opposition to war in Iraq with her decision to shun the revolt.
While she was unwilling to discuss the matter, Ms Short has in the past been far more keen to gain brownie points with the nation by backing the anti-war movement. In the process she has gained a popular reputation as one of the few Labour politicians whose views on Iraq chime with those of the public at large.
Just last week, after the massive 1.5 million-strong anti-war demonstrations in London and Glasgow, she went so far as to congratulate the marchers who had humiliated her Prime Minster.
She said: “I think the demonstrators helped to strengthen our Government, because everyone can see that Tony Blair needs the UN to have his country with him, so thank heavens all that happened.”
She even hinted she would consider resigning over the issue, adding: “I’m determined to do what I can with the leverage I have and to stand up for what’s right, come what may for me.”
But just 10 days later, when it came to putting her money where her mouth is, Ms Short decided the trappings of power were more important than morals.
She was among 255 toady Labour MPs, including the rest of the Cabinet, who voted down an anti-war amendment which declared that the argument for attacking Iraq was “as yet unproven”.