Friday, October 20, 2006

How unprofessional is that?

The last Labour MP to resign was Brian Sedgemore, he 'crossed the Rubicon' to support the Libdems at the height of the 2005 General Election. No great loss perhaps thought Blair, but the timing was unpeccable in order to gain maximum media coverage. That, we hear, is the professional way to communicate; that all communication must be aimed at gaining attention. This is as true in this political era as it was previously, though the tools may have changed a little.

And so we turn to the reason for posting: Clare Short, a confirmed anti-Blair maverick, has gone independent. Why? And more important, why now? There are countless moments when this gesture could have not only had an impact but been seen as a principled move. She opposed war against Iraq, but retained ministerial trappings until her credibility had been dashed. Then she stepped down from the front bench and the media said - So What? Tonight she earned fourth place on the BBC news and few will see this as anything but another less than credible act. It was intended to be an anti-Blair statement, but the timing is highly questionable. Had she resigned in a years time, in opposition to Brown's contination of Blair's political trajectory maybe it would have been newsworthy; but as a comment on the legacy of Blair it is ineffectual.

So here is the conundrum - Why resign? Was there a last straw? Was it just a case of things came to a head in her mind? Should she consider the media's demands or how they may comment on her departure? The media think she should, as these questions were all posed in a way to make her look like one of those famous 'flip-flops', just unable to make up her mind or to make the right decision.

So was it a meaningful move or not? Was it another, perhaps the last, maverick act of a career maverick? Does the move make her unprofessional in her timing? How should history judge Clare Short's stance over the last three years - opportunist or devout Labourite hanging on hoping for a leftward swing?

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