But I always had the nagging suspicion that she was being used. Labour always seemed to roll her up whenever they had something of a leftie-friendly nature to announce. And whenever they were doing something incredibly dodgy, she was always allowed much more length on the leash to criticise the government's, her government's, policy. Any other front bencher would be raked over the coals for such forthright statements, yet she seemed to get away with it. I always assumed she was the token leftie on the New Labour cabinet.
So then came the big mother of all confrontations between Short and Blair over Iraq. She announced in quite plain terms that she would quit the government should the country go to war with Iraq without UN approval. When they called her bluff, she backed down and probably lost most of her support, certainly mine.
So now she's gone, when it's way too late to make any difference. It's sad to seee someone who clearly had her heart in the right place let the politics of expedience completely destroy her tactical good sense.