Monday 8 August 2005

One-man force to be reckoned with

The sudden and to my mind suspicious death of a great man. I didn't always agree with him, but at the end of the day Robin Cook had more moral fibre in his left testicle than Phony Bliar has got in his whole body! He resigned from the government out of principle, how many other of those political wretches can say the same thing? If half of Westminster were half the man that Robin Cook was then there would be no need for this website!

Something about this whole thing does not make sense. You'll think "here we go again, Ewar on a paranoia trip" but think about it for a second. Robin Cook was a very healthy person, a regular hill-walker and no-one who knew him has said he had any medical complaints. And yet he drops dead in the highlands doing something he does regularly. His wife said, "he had just suddenly collapsed and stopped breathing ... He had not complained of any pain..." from the newspapers; "Cook was one of the MPs many would have regarded as least likely to have suffered a premature death." and yet everyone just accepts that this was natural causes. Oh no, our government couldn't possibly knock-off a potential opponent, they're much too nice for that! My arse!

Robin Cook was potentially one of Tony's biggest headaches, the only reason he wasn't a headache was because he never actively chose to oppose the government. But what if something made him change his mind? How much of a threat would Robin have been if he'd decided to go up against Phony?

The hillwalking which claimed Robin Cook's life yesterday was a pastime with many allegories to his political career.

He was a loner who wanted space for his own thoughts and saw much of life as a one-man game.

He never joined one of the Labour Party's political tribes, nor sought to start his own. But he was able to make an incredible impact through the sheer force of his intellect, which made him - even on the backbenches - a big political beast.

Even at 59, with a four-year stint at the Foreign Office behind him, he was far from a spent force. He had become Labour's most authoritative and eloquent sceptic in the war on terror. And he was struck down midway through a new political life.

For a man who never sought gangs of friends in the Commons, he had admirers stretching to all political parties. From entering the House as an MP in 1974 - on his 28th birthday - he quickly became known as one of its best orators.

His forensic intelligence and savage debating skills were put to use regularly, allowing him to work his way to the top of Labour's hierarchy. A former CND activist, he had joined the right side of the New Labour movement and was one of its up-and-coming men.

The Commons was the scene of his greatest political moments - specifically his stunning response to the Scott Report into the arms-to-Iraq scandal.

Given only two hours to fillet the document, he delivered a withering attack on John Major's government, seen by all parties as a key moment in its downfall.

His time as Foreign Secretary was not without incident. His attempt to forge an "ethical foreign policy" had mixed success: the government sold Hawk jets to Indonesia and Cook found himself under fire over the 1998 bombing of Iraq.

Although he was furious when asked to stand down as Foreign Secretary in 2001, it was the making of his new career: as Leader of the Commons - an institution he loved. He found a new career on the fringes of government.

Few ministers cherished this post as much as Cook. He loved the Commons; saw it as the cockpit of British democracy and loved debating in it. Few had such a command of the House: he could draw laughs, sighs and even applause on demand.

And he found all three when giving his resignation speech two years ago. Its sharpness lay in the calm. "I had forgotten how much better the view is from here," he said from the backbenches.

Full story...