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Short speaking out
Clare Short
Clare Short has made a virtue of speaking out

The constraints of government have rarely prevented Clare Short from speaking her mind. Here are some of the controversies she sparked before her resignation from the cabinet.

March 2003

In the beginning of the end for her cabinet career, Ms Short launched an extraordinary attack on Tony Blair's handling of the Iraq crisis

She said: "The whole atmosphere of the current situation is deeply reckless - reckless for the world, reckless for the undermining of the UN in this disorderly world, reckless with our government, reckless with his own future, position and place in history."

June 2002

In the wake of transport adviser Jo Moore's infamous email about "burying bad news", Ms Short urged Labour to ditch "spin".

The party had to try harder to "let the truth speak for itself"," she said.

"Do not try to manipulate the media. You cannot do it anyway," she continued.

Calling for a "fresh start", Ms Short added: "We need to get rid of the old techniques.

"We need to reconnect with the people - just be straight with them."

May 2002

A long-time campaigner against Page 3 girls, Ms Short said Labour should not have accepted a donation from soft pornography publisher Richard Desmond.

She said: "I hate porn, though if you look at the list of the 10 richest men in Britain, four or five made their money from porn.

"It's a kind of rather horrible reflection on how much consumption of it there is."

September 2001

As Tony Blair tried to focus on keeping solidarity with America over taking action against the 11 September terrorists, Ms Short warned of the risks ahead.

She told BBC News: "It would be unbearable if the response was a lot more innocent people losing their lives and inflaming the atmosphere."

"All serious people do not want a lot of innocent people to be bombed and lose their lives.

"Everyone who's got any influence ought to use their influence to try to achieve that outcome."

September 2000

The Millennium Dome became a new target of Ms Short's tongue as she branded it a "flop" and a "disaster" and said it should be shut.

"I never liked it, no-one in Birmingham liked it, we had our own alternative proposal, which was much more sensible," she said.

July 2000

She urged Tony Blair to return his party to its Old Labour values.

In a speech to political reporters, she said: "This is a substantially good and effective government - the bit that is going wrong is the 'New' bit."

July 2000

Ms Short accused the Catholic Church of being a burden to the fight against the spread of Aids.

She said: "The Catholic Church opposes contraception but most Catholics in the world use it.

"The Catholic Church is stuck and wrong on these questions but lots of Catholics ignore the Church's teaching, including good priests and nuns who are in favour of condoms being made available.

"That is just another burden in dealing with this thing better."

April 2000

Ms Short hit out at Labour MPs pressing for a new focus on the party's heartlands.

She argued: "To pretend the interests are divided, to pretend that Labour only represents the very marginalised is to say Labour can never succeed and we cannot have policy of social justice that wins the votes of the majority.

"I just feel that is completely wrong - it is a big mistake."

December 1998

Ms Short came under attack from business leaders and opposition MPs after admitting on live television that she "didn't bother" lobbying on behalf of British business during an official visit to China.

October 1998

Ms Short suggested the Lewinsky affair showed Bill Clinton was "not really fit" to be a world leader.

"If he had been a British prime minister he would have gone," she said.

June 1998

In perhaps her most notorious gaffe, she upset residents of Monserrat - the volcano-ravaged British overseas territory in the Caribbean.

"They will be wanting golden elephants next," she famously, if less than diplomatically, exclaimed.

February 1998

In a television documentary, Ms Short accused an unnamed colleague of leaking details of a cabinet discussion in which she supposedly likened Ulster Unionists to the Ku Klux Klan.

She said: "It's just utterly malicious. It's someone from within the Cabinet because it's a lie about a discussion that did take place. It's very sad.

"It's extraordinary that people on your own side would say such things, but there you go."

August 1996

In another attack on spin, Ms Short criticised the band of advisers round Tony Blair as "people who live in the dark".

"The obsession with the media and focus groups is making us look as if we want power at any price and don't stand for anything," she said.

The BBC's Shaun Ley
"Clare Short has been controversial since becoming an MP"

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