Charlie Whelan says . . .

Don't believe it - "Clare Short - lost all credibility"

No 10 spin-doctors didn't have to work very hard to ensure that some lobby hacks poured bucketloads over Clare Short. She was, some of the more sycophantic Blair brown-noses in Westminster told us, a busted flush who had lost all credibility. Not bad for someone who had put international aid back on the Labour agenda.

I do confess to having given Clare just a little stick myself in the past. I remember when she said, in 1996, that "people like us should pay more taxes" just as we were trying to convince the world that Labour would not put up tax. She does seem to have an obsession with spin-doctors, and not just those like me who worked for the government. She even attacked aid agency spinners for "exaggerating" the problems of getting supplies to Afghanistan - another war she supported. Her aversion to spin-doctors did not prevent her hiring one for herself.

However, to claim, as some have, that because she has made mistakes in the past what she said about Blair does not matter, is way off the mark. If anything, her analysis of the PM is even more devastating than Geoffrey Howe's attack on Margaret Thatcher. The reason is simple. What she said rang so true. It is what most MPs and party members think.

The week started with a concerted No 10 attack on Gordon Brown over the euro. Significantly, it was Brown who Short told first of her resignation, not Blair. It is not surprising that he tried to persuade her to stay - he needs all the friends he can get in the cabinet just now.

Short has damaged Blair, but that's nothing to what Brown would do if Blair dares move against the Chancellor.

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