Anti-bombing MPs are appeasers, says Short

Colin Brown,Sarah Schaefer
Tuesday 20 April 1999 23:02

CLARE SHORT dismayed fellow ministers yesterday when she compared Labour MPs opposed to the Nato bombing of Serbia to appeasers of Hitler and Nazi Germany.

Downing Street last night disowned her views, saying: "The difference between this country and Serbia is that in this country, people can express their views."

Ms Short, Secretary of State for International Development, said she was ashamed of some Labour MPs who had voiced dissent in the debate in the Commons. She had shouted: "You are a disgrace to the Labour Party" at Tam Dalyell, the veteran Labour backbencher, when he and a handful of the dissidents forced a vote.

Yesterday morning, after the vote by 11 Labour MPs against the Government, her anger had clearly not subsided. She said on BBC Radio Four's Woman's Hour: "It's always legitimate to voice dissent but this conflict and the arguments over it made many of us think about the Nazis and Hitler.

"There were people who thought Hitler was a good thing, there were people who opposed action being taken against Hitler, and I am ashamed that there are some members of the Labour Party who are saying outrageous things, defending what Serbia is doing.

"They are the equivalent of the people who appeased Hitler. I am sorry - this is a very serious thing to say but that is what I think. They're entitled to say it but I'm entitled to be ashamed of them."

Ms Short, a member of the so-called "Supper Club" that opposed the Gulf War, has often courted controversy, upsetting the people of volcano-hit Monserrat by remarks about "golden elephants", and comparing extremist Orangemen to the Ku-Klux-Klan. She has been a leading voice against the Left over the Kosovo war, impressing Downing Street with her visit to Macedonian refugee camps.

The Labour MP Gwyneth Dunwoody, who voiced doubts but did not vote against the Government, told BBC Radio: "One of Clare's endearing qualities is her ability to go over the top because she's got this enormous enthusiasm for life and this great vigour that she occasionally gets carried away with."

Another Labour MP, Alice Mahon, complained to reporters of "silly things" said about her being an appeaser.

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