Life-saving truths

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The Independent Online

Thank God for Clare Short.The International Development Secretary repeatedly identifies the obvious truths that everybody else seems scared to recognise. Sometimes her love of shooting from the hip can be counter-productive, but, all too often, she tells things straight - a talent that is sadly underrated by her fellow politicians, if not by the public.

Thank God for Clare Short.The International Development Secretary repeatedly identifies the obvious truths that everybody else seems scared to recognise. Sometimes her love of shooting from the hip can be counter-productive, but, all too often, she tells things straight - a talent that is sadly underrated by her fellow politicians, if not by the public.

Her criticism of the Catholic church for failing to acknowledge that condoms are valuable in the fight against Aids was spot on. She is right that continued condemnation of condoms is "a burden" and that the church is "stuck and wrong" in its attitudes.

As Ms Short herself pointed out, many priests and nuns on the Aids front line are themselves in favour of easier access to condoms, which can save lives. That point is almost too obvious to be made.

It is, therefore, all the more depressing to hear the squirming comments from Downing Street, where the subtext is: "Clare, get back in your box." It is even more depressing that Gary Streeter, Ms Short's Conservative opposite number, starts bleating that Ms Short's remarks are "unhelpful and insulting". No, Mr Streeter. It is you who are unhelpful and insulting. Take a quick reality-check, now.

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