Short 'hurt' by her demotion

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The Independent Online
Clare Short frankly admitted yeaterday that she had been "hurt" by her demotion by Tony Blair, overshadowing a reshuffle of middle-ranking frontbenchers by the Labour leader.

Mr Blair rewarded loyalty and strengthened Labour's "rebuttal" squad by appointing shadow ministers to answer the Tories' "New Labour New Danger" campaign in the run-up to the general election.

The reshuffle, which will continue today and is expected to include promotion for Glenda Jackson, shadow London transport minister, underlined the extent to which Labour leaders are worried by the impact of the Tory campaign. Labour will launch a campaign to "nail Tory lies" on Friday.

Stephen Byers, who remains a member of David Blunkett's education and employment team, was given the task of rebutting Tory propaganda against Labour over the social chapter, and Doug Henderson was made shadow minister for devolution to rebut allegations about Labour's plans for Scotland, Wales, and the regions.

Peter Hain, a highly effective campaigner, was moved from the whip's office to take charge of Labour's campaign on "job insecurity" in Mr Blunkett's team.

No rebuttal team could have prevented Ms Short from speaking her own mind. In her first BBC radio interview since walking out from a television studio over a question about the strike on the London Underground, Ms Short refused to hide the pain her treatment by Mr Blair had caused.

Asked if she was hurt by she replied: "Of course. That is obvious."

She said that she was saddened to lose her transport brief as she felt that she still had much to do in that job.

"Transport is a mess. It has not been properly attended to. People who do it in government and opposition keep being changed. I did a lot of work and was trying to get it sorted so I am a bit sad about that," she said.

About her new portfolio, she said: "I am honoured to be doing it but I don't like the way it has come about."

In other changes in Labour's middle-ranks, Janet Anderson takes over women's issues from Tessa Jowell, who moves to health as number two to Chris Smith.

Henry McLeish goes from health as shadow minister of state. Alan Milburn also leaves the health portfolio to move to the Treasury team.

Ian McCartney has beengiven responsibility for employment. Keith Bradley was promoted to transport, and Alan Michael was given responsibility for campaigning on crime and the voluntary sector.