In spite of her diffident tone and defiant red costume rather than sackcloth and ashes,Clare Short has nevertheless spoken a lot of sense both about the legality of the war and about the undemocratic ways of this administration. What a pity she didn't say it all on March 18. If she had resigned from the Cabinet alongside Robin Cook things would have been very different in the Commons debate the following day. (It was interesting that Clare Short expressed doubts about the claims later to emerge that the Cabinet was ready to resign if they didn't get the support of Parliament the next day. She surely would have known that - as a member of the Cabinet herself?)
In his speech of resignation, Robin Cook had dismissed Mr Blair's claim that Saddam Hussein posed a threat to the British people - and we all knew that Robin Cook did speak from a position of knowledge. He insisted that the Iraqi dictator had no weapons of mass destruction capable of being deployed against his enemies. He said that the regime of weapons inspections and sanctions imposed on Iraq since the Gulf War had contained Saddam more effectively than military action had in 1991.
War was opposed by many civilised nations - and by a large part of informed public opinion as well as those who are always averse to war in any circumstances.
Mr Cook had said, "I cannot support a war without international agreement or domestic support." When he claimed that that history would be "astonished at the diplomatic miscalculation" that saw the international coalition fall apart we feel he is right. Evidently Ms Short thinks so too - now. She apparently believed promises made to her about the part the UN would play. Too late, she has come to realise the extent to which Mr Blair and his closest (closet) associates are prepared to compromise with our democratic conventions. Only when she herself was sidelined and her department not consulted did the penny drop it seems. We have always rather liked Clare Short but her behaviour has seemed lacking in judgement over the past three months. If she ever found herself in the House of Lords like Baroness Amos would she be called Baroness Short of Perception?