Thursday, 20 January 2011

Remembering Robin Cook as Tony Blair prepares to duck and dive at the Iraq Inquiry

At 9.30am tomorrow Tony Blair will be back in front of Sir John Chilcot’s Iraq Inquiry into the 2003 invasion. Last time round its members hardly laid a glove on the former UK prime minister. There is no reason to expect that ‘Teflon’ Tony will not be able to ride with the punches at a repeat pummelling.
Apart from Blair and a shrinking band of apologists, many in this country believe Britain joined the US in an illegal war on a false prospectus.
But this doesn’t make the man a conscious liar. His sense of destiny and infallibility distanced him from facts that contradicted his own world view.
Blair dreamt of emulating Mrs Thatcher’s Falklands experience – emerging as the strong leader after a brief conflict. The added bonus would be the grateful thanks of George Bush and renewal of America’s abiding support for its old ally. The pity is his delusions of grandeur cost British, American, and Iraqi lives.
If there is a Heaven, Blair's telling St Peter he honestly thought the invasion was acting in the best interests of Britain, the Labour Party, and, yes, the Iraqi people will not earn him entry.
I like to think when his time comes, Blair will look through the Pearly Gates before he is spent to the Other Place and spot sitting on a celestial cloud an unusual looking man reading the celestial racing form.
It will be Robin Cook forgiven his atheism, gambling, womanising, and general epicurism for his moral courage in opposing the Iraq war which prompted him to resign from the Labour government as Leader of the House of Commons.
As we learn more about the invasion, Cook’s March 2003 resignation speech lives up to its billing as one of the greatest parliamentary events in living memory. It received a rare standing ovation for its painful truths not least Cook’s observation: “Britain is being asked to embark on a war without agreement in any of the international bodies of which we are a leading partner.”
Cook’s headstone – he was just 59 at his untimely death in August 2005 – reads: "I may not have succeeded in halting the war, but I did secure the right of parliament to decide on war." This strikes me as an eternal reminder that culpability is not Blair’s alone.


  1. One perhaps should not forget GC, says Jaffa, that many lives were saved by the interventions in Bosnia and Kosova which Mr Blair was also part of.

  2. Robin Cook addresses this issue in his speech - and comprehensively dismisses it. GC

  3. Regarding what is written on Robin Cook's headstone. excellent research GC. Assuming you were not being metaphorical, where did you come across that info?

  4. Not so excellent. Wikipedia and 1,800 other Google hits for the headstone. GC


What do you think? GC