Clare Short was MP for Birmingham Ladywood from 1983 to 2010 and Secretary of State for International Development from 1997 to May 2003. DFID was a new Ministry created after the 1997 general election to promote policies for sustainable development and the elimination of poverty.

Of Irish ancestry, she was educated at St Paul's Grammar School, Birmingham, and at the Universities of Keele and Leeds. She graduated as Bachelor of Arts with Honours in Political Science.

From 1996 until the 1997 General Election she was Opposition spokesperson on Overseas Development. She was Shadow Minister for Women from 1993 to 1995 and Shadow Secretary of State for Transport from 1995 to 1996. She has been Opposition spokesperson on Environment Protection, Social Security and Employment. She was a member of Labour's National Executive Committee (NEC) from 1988 to 1997 and Chair of the NEC Women's Committee from 1993 to 1996.

In 2003, Ms Short resigned from the Government over the Iraq war and in 2006, she resigned the Labour whip.In November 2004, Ms Short’s book An Honourable Deception? New Labour, Iraq, and the Misuse of Power was published as an attempt to explain why Tony Blair did what he did on Iraq so that lessons could be learned and things put right. In 2005, it was awarded Political Book of the Year by Channel 4.

She stood down from Parliament in 2010, and is now active in various organizations working on slum upgrading in the developing world, transparency in oil, gas and mining, African-led humanitarian action, destitute asylum-seekers in Birmingham, Trade Justice for the developing world and for a just settlement of the Palestinian/ Israeli conflict.  She is a trustee of Hope Projects (West Midlands) Ltd, Trade Out of Poverty, the Welfare Association, and Africa Humanitarian Action; and patron of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions UK. She is a member of the Advisory Committee of International Lawyers for Africa. In March 2011 she was elected Chair of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI).