Pressure groups mixed response to Short resignation - news from ekklesia on theology and politics from a christian perspective
Pressure groups mixed response to Short resignation
The resignation of Clare Short from the cabinet has elicited a mixed response from Christian pressure groups.
Ms Short was a "forthright campaigner" for international development who will be a hard act to follow on the world stage, aid agencies said yesterday.
But whilst most agencies praised her commitment to the issues and the high profile she won for the new department for international development, pro life groups were far less complimentary.
Ignoring her record of challenging the Government, pushing for cancellation of Third World debt or opposition to war, the Society for the Protection of the Unborn Child (SPUC) said in a statement that she would ìnot be mournedî
SPUC political spokesman Anthony Ozimic commented: "We do not mourn
the resignation of Clare Short from the government, but we mourn instead the countless numbers of innocent unborn children that were killed by the abortion programmes that she helped impose upon vulnerable women in poor countries. Clare Short seemed stuck in the past with the myths that population control equals less poverty and that China's one-child policy was being softened."
The pro life message contrasted starkly with what the aid agencies had to say.
"One in three people don't know where their next meal is coming from. Clare cared about that and continually reminded her colleagues that the needs of poor people must be at the centre of debates on aid." said Jessica Woodroffe, head of policy at ActionAid
Although most agencies had felt the lash of Ms Short's anger at some point, the respect with which she was regarded was obvious, reports the Guardian.
"She brought profile and passion to the job," said Adrian Lovett, former deputy director of the Jubilee 2000 campaign to cancel Third World debt. "We had disagreements but we wish her well."
The reaction of MPs was also mixed. The shadow international development secretary, and Evangelical Christian Caroline Spelman, said Ms Short had been sidelined in the run-up to war in Iraq, and that her job - and the countries she was trying to help - had subsequently suffered.
But there was more unanimity in the verdict on Clare Shortís successor, Baroness Amos.
Privately, some agencies are concerned that the decision to give the job to a close ally and a member of the House of Lords could be a sign that Tony Blair has decided to downgrade the department's role.
"Development is one area where people can afford to stand up and be counted but I can't see Baroness Amos doing that," said one aid agency official.
Officials at the Treasury and at Ms Short's former department were also alarmed. "The Foreign Office has taken back control of international development, and there is a certain amount of gloom about that," said one Whitehall official. "We will try and make sure the development agenda continues."
Mr Ozimic of SPUC was also concerned about the new appointment. "We lament Tony Blair's choice of Baroness Amos to succeed Clare Short. Baroness Amos' denial that the British government does not support population control has even less credibility than her predecessor's pro-abortion prejudices" he said.