Born Renée Gill in Leamington Spa, she had a Jewish mother but was brought up by her Church of England grandparents. She was educated at Nottingham County Grammar School and Manchester University. She was a journalist. Active in the Labour and Co-operative Parties, she served as a councillor on Hertfordshire County Council 1952–67 and Watford Rural District Council 1952–56.
Short contested St. Albans at the 1955 general election and Watford in the 1959 election. At the 1964 general election, she was elected to succeed John Baird as Member of Parliament for Wolverhampton North East. She retained her seat at subsequent general elections until her retirement at the 1987 election. In the Conservative landslide at the 1983 general election, she had held on to her seat by just 214 votes, and after she stood down, her old seat was won by the Conservative candidate Maureen Hicks. She also served on the Labour National Executive Committee 1970–81 and 1983–88.
Short was on the left-wing of the Labour Party and often clashed with her constituency neighbour Enoch Powell. She was an early advocate of abortion reform. She was for many years national president of the Campaign for Nursery Education, and of the Nursery Schools Association; and she was vice-president of the Women's National Cancer Control Campaign. She had hopes of being appointed to the government in 1974 but believed she had suffered by openly stating her ambition on the BBC TV election results programme (she said "If Harold's any sense, he'll know what to do"). Later in her career she received a regular credit as 'Parliamentary Adviser' to the Yorkshire Television sitcom The New Statesman. She married, in 1940, Dr Andrew Short; they had two daughters.
- Times Guide to the House of Commons, 1966 & 1983
- Leigh Rayment's Historical List of MPs [self-published source][better source needed]
- Hansard 1803–2005: contributions in Parliament by Renee Short
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