Neil Williams | 07.08.2005 10:00
RESPECT deeply regrets the untimely death of Robin Cook MP. Our sympathies and condolences go to his family and friends.
Robin Cook, who entered parliament in 1974, had a long reputation as an honest and principled politician on the left of the parliamentary party. From the beginning of his parliamentary career he was an opponent of nuclear weapons and believed Britain's armed forces should be turned into a true defence force.
When Labour was elected into government in 1997 Cook was appointed Foreign Secretary by Tony Blair, committing himself to an 'ethical foreign policy'. After Labour's re-election in 2001 Blair moved Cook, against his wishes, to Leader of the House. It was from this position in the Cabinet that he took the principled and brave decision to resign from the government in March 2003 because of his opposition to the impending Iraq war. It is for this principled stand that Cook will, rightly, be best remembered.
In his dramatic resignation speech to the House of Commons, he warned "Iraq probably has no weapons of mass destruction in the commonly understood sense of the term - namely a credible device capable of being delivered against a strategic city target." With his usual forensic debating ability he first savaged and then demolished the government's case for war.
Many who remained in the Labour Party over the last couple of years, since Blair took us into that bloody, illegal and immoral war, did so because Robin Cook remained a voice for sanity, reason and peace. They hoped that one day his views would begin to prevail in the Labour Party.
With Robin Cook's death, the labour and trade union movement and the anti-war movement have lost one of the most powerful and principled advocates of peace. He will be sorely missed.