Clare Short has been reprimanded by the Labour Party for comments she made about the government. Showing admirable restraint, the hierarchy shied away from expelling Short, a move which would have propelled her onto the front pages she so loves, instead opting for a warning. As will be recalled, a few weeks ago, Clare 'I'm threatening to resign' Short had yet another one of her 'moments', as they discreetly referred to in the Westminster village. Penning an intoxicatingly bitter piece for The Independent, Mama Short laid into the Labour leadership, saying she was "profoundly ashamed of the government", calling for a hung parliament and announcing her resignation as an MP. But characteristically, Mama didn't rule out standing as an independent candidate at the next election.
As all clever aquatic creatures know, Mama has plenty of form in this regard, making threats to resign from something or other at regular intervals and just as regularly failing to see her threats through. Such antics are typically accompanied by some splendid examples of sanctimonious self-justification. One can have too much of such a thing.
Nonetheless, until Mama over-reached herself by failing to honour her threat to resign over the war, pliant hacks lapped up her act, foolishly lauding her record at the Department of International Development (DFID) without caring make any close examination of what it was up to under her watch. And that was rampant privatisation-pushing in developing countries under the guise of aid and some very curious funding priorities, not least of all funnelling millions into the controversial United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), an organisation judged complicit in human rights violations by the US State Department.
Mama Short, who was not an innocent ingenue but a sturdy married woman when she gave her son up for adoption (some three decades later their widely-publicised reconciliation - exclusive interview, walkabout-and-embrace photo opportunity - melted all but the most cynical of hearts) has always singlemindedly pursued her own interests. She met her (second) late husband, the then-married home office minister Alex Lyon, while she was working at the Home Office. Some time after that, the first Mrs Lyon found herself out of a marriage and replaced by Clare Short. Her 1981 marriage to a former minister did not prove to be a hindrance to her political career.
Elected in 1983, she ascended with dizzying rapidity up the greasy pole, pausing only to wave her conscience around at opportune moments and indulge in a spot of Millie witch-hunting, all the rage in the Kinnock years, even if some targets of her righteous fervour were rather close to home.
Dave Nellist recalled Short as tricoteuse, parked outside the meeting which was to expell him, furiously knitting away as she awaited the verdict. Its the authentic image of an evesdropping Short, her face twisted into a frown of concentration, watchful and waiting.