Letter:Vigorous role for Clare Short

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The Independent Online
Sir: The debate over Clare Short's appointment to the shadow overseas development portfolio (report, 26 July) overlooks the importance of the portfolio to both economic and social progress in the world and to Britain's standing in the international community.

Some may say that it is a backwater position and a "low key role". But that is at odds with the reality of the position. Overseas development is about issues such as the suffering of large scale refugee movements, the tragedy of the international drug trade, and the challenge presented by environmental deterioration in the world. If this is a "political cul de sac" it says more about the parochialism of Westminster politics than the issue itself. Indeed, the news of domestic shadow cabinet appointments has itself been overshadowed by the human suffering and turmoil that is occurring in Burundi.

Ms Short, like her opposite number, Baroness Chalker, on the government benches, combines strong principles with pragmatism. A political duel between the two of them brings the prospect of restoring the vigour and vision to overseas development that the subject deserves.

DOMINIC BYRNE

Head of International Media

Actionaid

London N19

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