Clare ShortClare Short (born February 15, 1946) is a British Labour Party politician. She is Member of Parliament for Birmingham Ladywood and was Secretary of State for International Development from May 2, 1997 until her resignation on May 12, 2003.
Clare Short was born to Irish parents in Birmingham in 1946. With a degree in political science, she became a civil servant in the Home Office. Working as Private Secretary to the Conservative minister Mark Carlisle gave her the idea that she "could do better" than many of the MPs she dealt with, and in the 1983 UK general election she became MP for Ladywood, the area where she grew up.
From the start of her career she was on the left wing of the party. In 1986 she gained attention for campaigning against "Page Three" photographs of topless models in The Sun and other British tabloid newspapers. She supported Tony Benn in the Labour leadership election in 1988. She also called for the withdrawal of British troops from Northern Ireland.
She rose through the ranks of the Labour Front Bench, despite twice resigning from it - over the Prevention of Terrorism Act in 1988, and over the Gulf War in 1990. She became shadow Minister for Women, and then shadow Transport Secretary, but in 1996 was moved to the Overseas Development portfolio, a move that was widely seen as a demotion, perhaps as a punishment for her outspokenness. She has been a controversial figure throughout her career, most notably when she called for the legalisation of cannabis.
After the 1997 UK general election the Overseas Development Administration was given full departmental status as the Department for International Development, with Short as the first cabinet-level Secretary of State for International Development. She retained this post throughout the first term of the Labour government, and beyond the 2001 UK general election into the second.
Short was briefly married to a fellow student after she became pregnant at 18. Their son was given up for adoption, and did not make contact with his birth mother until 1996. She discovered that her son was a staunch Tory who worked in the financial sector in the City of London, and that she was a grandmother. Her second marriage, to former Labour minister Alex Lyon, turned to tragedy: he suffered from Alzheimer's disease and died in 1993.
On March 9, 2003 Ms Short called Tony Blair "reckless" and threatened to resign from the Cabinet in the event of the British government going to war with Iraq without a clear mandate from the United Nations. This looked set to be a reprise of her previous resignation as party spokesperson during the Gulf War of 1991 as a protest against the Labour Party's stance. However, on March 18 she announced that she would remain in the Cabinet and support the government's resolution in the House of Commons.
Short remained in the Cabinet for less than two months after her decision to back the 2003 Iraq War. She resigned on May 12, saying that Blair had broken promises to her about the involvement of the UN in the post-war reconstruction of Iraq, and that Blair and Jack Straw had negotiated a UN Security Council resolution that "contradicts the assurances I have given in the House of Commons and elsewhere about the legal authority of the occupying powers, and the need for a UN-led process to establish a legitimate Iraqi government". 10 Downing Street denied the allegations. In her resignation statement to the House she accused Blair of being "obsessed with his place in history".