Anorak News | Calamity Clare

Calamity Clare

by | 27th, February 2004

‘IT seems odd that someone of Clare Short’s intellect should concern herself with intelligence gathering.

‘I keep my friends close and my enemies closer’

But her claims that Kofi Annan, the United Nations secretary general, was spied on by British spooks appear less aimed at protecting his rights and more intended to wound Tony Blair.

The Guardian concurs with this view, seeing Short as a ”lonely figure waging [a] personal war on Blair”. The paper says that the year-long feud between the pair has “plumbed new depths of personal animus”.

And while down in the murky depths, Short has chosen to muddy the waters yet further with her accusation. And for added spite, there can be no better forum for her outburst than the BBC’s Today programme, the show that sexed-up dossiers.

For the record, Short’s conversation with presenter John Humphrys was picked up by a listening device at the Independent’s offices.

Humphrys: “Have British agencies been involved in spying atrocities against Mr Annan?”

Short: “Well, I know. I have seen transcripts of Kofi Annan’s conversations. In fact, I have had conversations with Kofi in the run up to war, thinking, ‘Oh dear. There will be a transcript of this and people will see what he and I are saying’.”

Aside from the allegations of spying, it’s hard not to notice Shorts’ vanity. Not only is she on first-name terms with the face of the UN, but also she believes there are men in shiny suits interested in hearing what she has to say.

Shorts would, perhaps, point to the story’s prominence in today’s papers as proof that she still holds some clout, even after resigning her post in Government, despite voting for the war in Iraq she is now so upset by.

But it all looks like a shock tactic designed to hurt Blair. She is no longer in a position of power and her comments smack of the barbed snipes of a sour, bitter has-been.

“What is the PM going to say?” says Short to the Guardian. “Either he has to say it’s true we are bugging Kofi Annan’s office, which he doesn’t want to say, or he’s got to say it’s not true and he’d be telling a lie, or he’s got to say something pompous about national security.”

Blaire chose option C, claiming in a Downing Street briefing that any comment could impinge on the work of the intelligence services.

Although there is always option D: ask Short to explain why she chooses to make her allegations after her drawn-out resignation from the Government and did not mention such matters when she was Tony’s aid and earning a good crust as a minister?

And how that fits in with New Labour’s much-trumpeted “ethical” foreign policy?’

Posted: 27th, February 2004 | In: Broadsheets Comment | TrackBack | Permalink