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We've come a long way, but there is still much to do; CLARE SHORT.

The election has been called and Parliament will prorogue on Monday, April 12, and after 27 years, I will cease to be an MP.

I do not feel any great sadness at this ending.

Politics is in bad shape and I have fallen out with my party over Iraq and other things. It is not good to hang around griping, so it is time to move on. I still feel as passionately as ever about political issues, but will try to contribute in other ways.

I think the UK is on the wrong path.

It has become one of the most unequal countries in Europe and we know that the most unequal countries have more crime, violence, alcohol and drug use, mental illness, teenage pregnancy etc.

This is what is wrong with the UK and we need a long-term determination to make ourselves more like the Scandinavian countries and less like the US.

On foreign policy, I think the UK humiliates itself by always acting as a US poodle.

We could be a really useful country if we joined with others to drive forward the commitment to poverty reduction and greater sustainability. We could also do much more to help bring peace to the Middle East.

And unless we work to create a more equitable and sustainable world order, the years ahead will be very rocky as changes in climate bring crises of food production and access to water and lead to the displacement of millions of people. I will miss my constituents. I have loved them, learned from them and done my best to serve them.

Lots of individual problems have been solved and there is more money in education and health.

But the effects of the rise in inequality are felt very severely in our inner city areas and I regret that life has not improved as much as it should.

I will stay involved in work on slum upgrading for the poor of the world and destitute asylum seekers through the Hope project in Birmingham.

I shall probably write a book in an attempt to share what I have learned.

And beyond that, I am at the beginning of the next phase of my life and will have to see where it takes me.

Clare Short MP (Birmingham, Ladywood)
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Apr 8, 2010
Words:382
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