by RAY FLEMING

Clare Short should be ashamed of herself. Tony Blair should be ashamed of himself. If in the future either of them ever wonders why people are disillusioned with politics and politicians they will need only to look back to the events of the last few days and examine their own actions. Ms Short's public attack on the prime minister on BBC radio ten days ago was a sacking offence; she rubbished his policies, accused him of serial recklessness and said quite clearly that she could not stay in the government if there was not a second UN resolution authorising the use of force. She abused the principle of collective Cabinet responsibility. Her statement yesterday explaining her reasons for deciding to remain in the government did not retract any of her earlier criticisms but instead listed a number of “important developments” over the last week - including, of course, the behaviour of the French - which, she said, had made her change her mind about going. Therefore, if she is not guilty of disloyalty she can certainly be accused of appalling judgement in announcing her intentions publicly before all the evidence she needed to make her decision had come to hand. Reckless is probably the word to describe this kind of behaviour. Whatever reasons Tony Blair may have had for persuading his errant minister to stay on, they cannot have been important enough to override the obvious need for a disloyal minister to be dispensed with.

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