Letter: Support for Clare Short

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The Independent Online
Sir: Those who know Clare Short and have worked with her know that she is open-minded and ready to listen, quite the opposite of what Paul Vallely implies.

I have watched her work for years and frequently spoken on the same platform at public meetings. I entirely disagree with the unattributed quotations from officials in aid agencies Mr Vallely repeats like a refrain throughout his article. He appears to be trying to paint her as an egomaniac, uninformed about the issues her department is addressing. My experience of her is exactly the opposite.

She gives her time tirelessly to the priorities of the dispossessed and underprivileged throughout the world and to the aim of ending absolute poverty. I've always found her to be well-informed, quick-thinking and extremely hard-working.

He is right about one thing. She definitely is passionate and thank goodness she is. When it comes to changing our priorities towards a fairer balance of income and resources in the world, passion is essential.

Diana, Princess of Wales, was also passionate and outspoken about issues which at first appeared unpopular, and it is only now with her death that we realise the enormous extent to which the hearts of the British people were with her.

I think it would be a great mistake if a critical press were to undermine the work that Clare Short is trying to do.

Those who work on aid and development do in fact have quite similar objectives, and this kind of journalism doesn't help them in achieving cohesion. Instead it splits and polarises, by making the question of aid a political football.

This does no service to the poor of the world.

Dr SCILLA ELWORTHY

Director

Oxford Research Group

Oxford

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