Robin Cook 1946-2005

Prominent Labour Party MP, former Foreign Secretary and Leader of the Commons, Robin Cook has died after collapsing during a hill-walking holiday in Scotland. Guardian report here

  • Keith M

    I’m reminded of the old joke made by a former colleague “Robin’s a big hit witth the ladies, but what will happen when his looks start to go”.

    Seriously, I would disagree with Cook on the liberation of Iraq, but at least he had the integrity to stand aside when it was clear that the government did not agree with him. Apart from that, I thought him a very capable parlimentarian and an interesting political commentator since his resignation.

  • Fraggle

    Keith, he stood up and said (paraphrasing) that he’d seen the same intel stuff as TB and that there were no weapons or mass destruction in Iraq.

    What’s there to disagree with?

    If Iraq was going to be invaded, there should have been a legitimate reason for it, not the phoney bullshit of 1441.

  • Friendly Fire

    Keith is obviously a revisionist.

    Here is what Robin Cook said:

    The US can afford to go it alone, but Britain is not a superpower.

    Our interests are best protected not by unilateral action but by multilateral agreement and a world order governed by rules.

    Yet tonight the international partnerships most important to us are weakened: the European Union is divided; the Security Council is in stalemate.

    Those are heavy casualties of a war in which a shot has yet to be fired.

    I have heard some parallels between military action in these circumstances and the military action that we took in Kosovo. There was no doubt about the multilateral support that we had for the action that we took in Kosovo.

    It was supported by NATO; it was supported by the European Union; it was supported by every single one of the seven neighbours in the region. France and Germany were our active allies.

    It is precisely because we have none of that support in this case that it was all the more important to get agreement in the Security Council as the last hope of demonstrating international agreement.

  • Jacko

    Didn’t waste much time in paying tribute or mourning him before getting right back into it I see.

  • Visioneer

    Robin Cook’s death comes as a great shock.

    Probably the most decent and down to earth politican in Blair’s cabinet.

    He wasn’t afraid to speak his mind while holding respect for others and retaining moral principles and standards.

  • Comrade Stalin

    I was greatly saddened to hear of Cook’s death. He was one of the most principled of the Labour front bench, and a very smart and able guy. He brought an air of modernism and ethics into the foreign office, and stood up to Blair in great style during the unfolding of the Iraq war.

    Now that the Coalition is preparing it’s escape plan for an Iraq which is thoroughly under the control of Al Quaida-linked insurgents, I’ve got no doubt that history is going to show that Cook’s stand was 100% correct.

  • Patrick P.

    There’s no question that Robin Cook was one of the few MP’s capable of forming an opinion that strayed from mainstream party rhetoric. My heart goes out to his family, and to the people of the Livingston constituency. They’ve lost a great one.

  • Patrick P.

    There’s no question that Robin Cook was one of the few MP’s capable of forming an opinion that strayed from mainstream party rhetoric. My heart goes out to his family, and to the people of the Livingston constituency. They’ve lost a great one.

  • Alan

    Just a thought for his family, friends and colleagues. But what a good way to go – still active, another goal in sight. Perhaps only a racecourse would have been more appropriate.

  • Keith M

    The reason I disagreed with Cook over Iraq, was because he appeared to reject the liberation on any grounds. I believe that free democracies have the right (if not the obligation) to use whatever means necessary to remove evil tyranny and defend the innocent wherever possible. I would not have stood aside in Rawanda and the Former-Yugoslavia, while the shameful UN sat on its hands, I would have removed Saddam after the invasion of Kuwait and today I would have liberated the people of Zimbabwe and Cuba from the evil tyranny.

  • Comrade Stalin

    “I believe that free democracies have the right (if not the obligation) to use whatever means necessary to remove evil tyranny and defend the innocent wherever possible.”

    You’re still being a revisionist. That was not the grounds upon which the war was justified; the single reason for the war was to do with the threat of WMD. The people of Iraq are clearly less free now than they were before the invasion, and when the Americans are defeated by the insurgents (within the next 12-18 months) the country will be controlled by an Al Quaida-sympathetic regime considerably more dangerous than Hussein’s one.

  • la Dolorosa

    What a terrible shock and such a sad loss. for those still members/supporters of the Labour Party Robin Cook was such an admired person and figurehead and personified integrity.

    Re: Keith and his ‘free democracies’…

    I am sure how important voting or ‘democracy’ is when you are dirt poor. At least the poor in Cuba have acess to envious health and education compared to their ‘free’ dirt poor brothers and sisters in the USA who are left by the wayside by Bush and his cronies.

  • la dolorosa

    meant to write:

    ‘I am not sure how important democracy is….”

  • bertie

    I’m with Keith on this one. The WMD were the grounds that Blair used. For me a invasion was justified, in theory at least, on the grounds that Saddam was an evil tyrant. Blair’s motivation is always suspect, but that does not rule out the possibility that he may do the right thing, even if for all the wrong reasons.

    What I find almost incredible was the failure of Blair et al to think through how they proposed to win the peace? There seemed to have been no thought whatsoever about what they were going to do once Sadam was gone. I beleive that there was a moral responsibility to liberate Iraq, but along with this was the moral responsibility to think it through. Toppling Sadam was only the end of the beginning. Short-termism seems to rule supreme.

  • George

    I never knew what to make of Robin Cook but I ended up respecting him and listening to what he had to say, which, for me, says all that needs to be said about the man, considering he was a politician. My condolences to all who knew him.

    Keithm and Bertie,
    On Iraq, considering the British have all but handed over control of their “zone” to Muqtada al-Sadr to ensure a peaceful life, the police are carrying out political assassinations at will, religious paraphanalia adorns their barracks, the universities are patrolled by religious sheriffs to ensure Sharia law is enforced, bribery and corruption are rampant, I’d like to know what you understand by tryanny and short-termism?

  • Keith M

    la delorosa “At least the poor in Cuba have access to envious health..”. You mean those that are left in the country and are not in prison? I think you know that every year thousands of people flee Cuba for the USA, often risking their lives to do so. Exactly how many people have fled in the opposite direction to take advantage of these “envious” facilities?

  • Jo

    It was the people who agreed with Cook, and the government didnt agree either. Nonetheless he had a moral fibre, character and passion for his politics, which is something fast fading in public life.

  • micktvd

    Keith M writes: “I would have removed Saddam after the invasion of Kuwait”

    Surely, Keith, Saddam was a tyrant before he invaded Kuwait, and I think your timing betrays an agreement with the elite consensus that tyranny is fine if you don’t upset the West. He killed his political opponents,started a murderous war, used poison gas, etc. and he was supported by the US and Britain (among others).

    As far as Cuba is concerned, it is clearly not a political democracy, but your point about people not leaving the US for Cuba could equally apply to any poor country. They do, by the way have a lower infant mortality rate than the US, and in spite of a forty year embargo and some serious terrorism eminating from the US, they have comparably good health and education systems.

  • Keith M

    micktvd; you make a good point as to to when the west should have moved against Saddam. I’m a believer in politics being the art of the possible and as such I think that the most opportune time to have moved against Saddam would have been after the invasion of Kuwait as any move earlier than that would not have had support in the region (from countries like Turkey and Saudi Arabia). As such I think a medium to long term war would have been unsustainable and perhaps therefore unwinable and would only have served to strengthen Saddam’s positon. When would you have moved against him (or would he still be in power based on your analysis)?

    As for Cuba, the people obviously believe that there’s more to life than a good education or health service. The old Soviet Bloc had great education and health services, but the price people had to pay for it, was far too high. The same applies to Cuba today.

    Jo “It was the people who agreed with Cook, and the government didnt agree either.” The only time the people have been asked to pass a verdict on the government’s position, they did so (in the May election). If there had been huge public opposition to the liberation of Iraq, parties like the Lib-Dems would have made huge gains, and they didn’t.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Keith, you seem to be forgetting the fact that the Labour Party lost over 100 seats. Are you sure there wasn’t huge public opposition to the Iraq war ?

    bertie, we didn’t invade Iraq to take out an evil tyrant. We invaded on the basis of the WMD lies. Note that we’re not invading North Korea, despite the presence of a despotic dictator far, far worse than Hussein ever was. Care to speculate why ?

  • Keith M

    Comrade Stalin : “you seem to be forgetting the fact that the Labour Party lost over 100 seats. Are you sure there wasn’t huge public opposition to the Iraq war?”. Actually they lost 47. I am fully aware that any party seeking a third successive term in office, is almost always going to lose seats. I’m also aware that for every seat they lost to the Lib-Dems (who opposed the war), they lost three to the Conservatives (who agreed with my position thatWMDs were secondary and that the war was justified simply to get rid of Saddam). QED the people did not reject the the war on Iraq.

    “Note that we’re not invading North Korea, despite the presence of a despotic dictator far, far worse than Hussein ever was. Care to speculate why?”. I know this point isn’t made to me, but I feel an earlier post of mine gives an insight. A war on North Korea would seriously disrupt the region and could bring China into the conflict. Once again I state that politics is the art of the possible. Personally I think that there is less of a case for not liberating Zimbabwe.

  • bertie

    Comrade
    “bertie, we didn’t invade Iraq to take out an evil tyrant. We invaded on the basis of the WMD lies. Note that we’re not invading North Korea, despite the presence of a despotic dictator far, far worse than Hussein ever was. Care to speculate why ?”

    The point I was making was getting rid of the evil tyrant was my agenda. I never said it was Blair’s reason for taking us in. As to why we are not invading North Korea, when we invades Iraq. Although I know nothing about North Korea, I am prepared to speculate that it is because Tony Blair is a morally bankrupt opportunist.

  • George

    So Bertie,
    you supported removing a tyrant from Iraq but not tyranny? That was your agenda?

    I ask because of the current fundamentalist tyranny, which is fully tolerated in the British zone in Iraq.

    What is the point of removing a tyrant only to see another form of tyranny fill the vacuum? What kind of agenda is that?

  • bertie

    George

    I have already posted on this thread about the failure to think the thing through to the end and that removing Sadam was only the end of the beginning.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Bertie, I suspect what you mean is that you would have supported a war to remove a tyrant and introduce freedom and democracy to Iraq, is that right ? In that case I think you would have opposed what actually took place in Iraq right from the start. We haven’t removed tyranny in Iraq, and we haven’t made it into a democracy. Instead we’ve created a terrorist melting pot run by Islamic extremists – the very people we were trying to keep at bay when we supported Hussein in power to begin with. The result of the Iraq war has been to make the world a more dangerous place than it was before, and to make life considerably harder for the people in Iraq.

    Keith, I meant the government’s majority rather than the actual number of seats retained by Labour. But if you think politics is the art of the possible then why did you support a war based on the impossible objectives of “achieving freedom in and removing tyranny” Iraq ? On what basis did you feel that those objectives were ever achievable ?

    [BTW Hussein was an evil man who tortured and killed those who opposed him, but I’d wager that most people in Iraq would have preferred him over what they have now. An Iraqi I once spoke to told me that as long as you kept your head down and your mouth shut, you could live some sort of life in Iraq. That is now not possible.]

  • bertie

    Comrade

    “Bertie, I suspect what you mean is that you would have supported a war to remove a tyrant and introduce freedom and democracy to Iraq, is that right ?”

    Yes

    I’m not in a position to know whether it is worse now than with Saddam, but I am certainly not in a position to argue the contrary. It was immoral to play about in Iraq without considering stage 2. If had known that they had not done this, I would have opposed it, (not without regret for those who would continue to suffer under Saddam).

  • Jo

    Keith:
    It may surprise you to learn that there was more than 1 issue at work in the May elections and that Labour lost 100 seats might indeed be some reflection of public attitudes to Iraq – I would suspect that if an opinion poll was held now, in the aftermath of the London bombs, that there would be a huge majority in favour of withdrawing from Iraq.

    Jack Straw can huff and puff all he likes about there being no connection between those bombings and Iraq, but this govt. has little credibility and people simply don’t and won’t believe that. Unfortunately, or fortunately, such major issues are not put directly to the people – if they were the British govt of the day would have withdrawn all troops from NI three decades ago.

  • Scottie

    Cook is a sad loss, but I don’t see why he has made it on to this website about NI Politics and Culture.

    What’s the connection?

  • La Dolorosa

    keith M.

    Yes I am ware that Cuba is not perfect and that there are human rights issues – especially if re gays and journalists….

    But the US for all its self-righteousness is not perfect either. If you are poor and moreover, black, you tend to get taken off the electoral list so you can’t even vote so it’s just as stagemanaged…..it’s just a different form of repression.

  • Jo

    La D:

    As in, say, the state of Florida where Dubya so very nearly lost in 2000, and where the lists were “reviewed” under the direction of …who is the Governor there again? 😉

  • la Dolorosa

    Jo – precisely…… just another style of ‘democracy’ al Bush/Neo cons
    I am still so sad re Robin Cook’s untimely death.

  • Jo

    La D:

    Its very sad how many Labour politicians seem to meet an untimely end: Aneurin Bevan, Hugh Gaitskell, Anthony Crosland, John Smith, Donald Dewar and now Robin Cook.

    I think Gortdon must be feeling very mortal….

  • La Dolorosa

    Jo: Indeed, and such a loss for progressive polotics and civil society….

    Gordon’s own experience re his first child (Jennifer) plus so many Scottish colleagues must have had en affect on him.

    At least he does ‘genuine sincerity’

  • La Dolorosa

    Jo: Indeed, and such a loss for progressive politics and civil society….

    Gordon’s own experience re his first child (Jennifer) plus so many Scottish colleagues must have had en affect on him.

    At least he does ‘genuine sincerity’

  • La Dolorosa

    Jo: Indeed, and such a loss for progressive politics and civil society….

    Gordon’s own experience re his first child (Jennifer) plus so many Scottish colleagues must have had en affect on him.

    At least he does ‘genuine sincerity’

  • Who knew?

    Cook is a sad loss, but I don’t see why he has made it on to this website about NI Politics and Culture.

    What’s the connection?

    Don’t tell me you didn’t notice with his facial hair and bad dye job how uncannily James Monaghan resembled Robin Cook. Coincidence?