I guess on the whole I've been able to live in peace with 13 years of New Labour - there have been peaks and nadirs, to be frank - but it does still irk me that Clare Short ever got to sit at a cabinet table; and this solely, like Prescott, because Blair thought he was playing nice, palliating that useless/sanctimonious side of the Party in which he privately had no interest. Well, good work there, Tone - you wound up letting Short become the public face of the pseudo-sacred principle of 'cabinet government', i.e. the utterly unpersuasive voice that won't shut up ought by definition to be heeded. Having somehow attained the status of Minister, Clare Short was not going to be ignored - and her being her, who could expect otherwise?
Stolidly populist, Short has been the most easily quoted critic of the decision to topple Saddam. But her performance when it came to giving up that ministerial office is all one needs to know about her political gifts. (As the Telegraph heard one minister say, "better to have her as an unprincipled laughing stock rather than a principled martyr.") As for the value of her purported service to the cause of the Left, George Monbiot made a rather stark case for the prosecution back in 2003, in the Guardian, no less.
And yet, and yet... our state broadcaster takes Short very seriously, for what one supposes are personal reasons. Nicholas Witchell of the BBC has been awfully keen that we know who gets applause from the discerning gallery at Chilcot, and today we understand that Short finally gave those people just what they wanted to hear and more. It was truly painful to watch even the slightest fragment of her 'It's My Turn' efforts as played on the news bulletins - that scarf gaily trailing from her neck, those awful, chatty dismissals of top people and major matters to whom and to which she should never have been in the remotest proximity. Jim Pickard in the FT and Paul Waugh in the Standard have got the tone just about right in their reporting.