Robin Cook Resigns: what does this mean?

Breaking news is that British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook has just resigned, in protest of Blair’s support of Bush’s war. I’m not terribly informed on British politics; is this as big as if Colin Powell resigned from Bush’s cabinet? Does this foreshadow doom for Blair’s government? What will be the ramifications of Cook’s actions?


Formerly Foreign Secretary. Currently Leader of the House of Commons, a far less important role from a policy-making point of view. His action isn’t really a surprise, and he may be followed shortly by Clare Short.

I imagine Blair is concerned, but not panicking. He will be more worried about a likely backbench rebellion by rank-and-file MPs than by Cook’s move.

WAG from former English resident: it will make a lot of noise in the papers, but ultimately may not prove so important. Blair’s been trying to marginalize Cook for some time now.

Having said that, of course, this will ramp up the pressure on Blair from the anti-war wing of the Labour party considerably. If Blair wasn’t staking his political future on war before, he is now.

If war wasn’t so imminent I’d agree, but I rather think it’s going to be overshadowed.

I certainly agree with Crusoe, though. He’ll probably take stock, especially if Claire Short follows, but I can’t see anything really awful happening. Mind you - I thought that Blair would have backed out by now directly because of the level of support in the backbenches, so what do I know? :stuck_out_tongue:

this ( P ) Pronunciation Key (ths)
pron. pl. these (thz)

Used to refer to the person or thing present, nearby, or just mentioned: This is my cat. These are my tools.
Used to refer to what is about to be said: Now don’t laugh when you hear this.
Used to refer to the present event, action, or time: said he’d be back before this.
Used to indicate the nearer or the more immediate one: This is mine and that is yours.

It is quite serious as Robin Cook at least has the profile to be a pontential challenger for the leadership.

I think that there will be no challenge until the war has finished, but Tony Blair has staked his entire political career on how the war goes.

Well, I certainly can’t argue with this, since I have no idea what this is about.

Oh, how I get it, psicological. I’d suggest, however, that Great Debates threads are perhaps not the best place for lame humor.

Carry on…

It’s serious in that Cook made an excellent resignation speech in the Commons, putting eloquently what I think many if not most people in the UK are feeling (ie: we’re not pacifists, we’ve no time for Saddam, we want to put pressure on Saddam, but we don’t understand why we are being pushed into war with such impatience, why the international diplomatic safeguards are being brushed aside, when the link with Al Qaeda is unproven and the consequences of this war in terms of international security could be so dangerous).
Cook got a standing ovation in the Commons - this is almost unheard of - MPs are supposed to give polite “hear hears”. Cook’s speech could rally opposition to the war within the already rebellious Labour Party- there’s a big debate on the crisis tomorrow. I think Blair will carry it, but this speech will be remembered.
Sorry if this post is clumsily written - I’ve got half an ear on Bush speaking on the TV now…

First, sorry about the Foreign Secretary gaffe. D’oh! Toldja I’m not terribly informed on British politics, but I did know better than that (i.e., knew about Straw). It’s what I get for reading an article hastily and posting about it even hastilier.

Second, ha ha, psicological.

Third, as awful as it may sound, this is (aside from the godfish thing) the best news I’ve heard today. I no longer hold any hope that this ill-advised war can be averted. I no longer hold any hope that Bush will care what anyone else in the world thinks. But if America can be completely isolated from the rest of the world, at least we may have an easier time kicking his ass out of office, so that he can’t repeat this travesty.

Here’s hoping that Blair’s party abandons him, and that Spain follows close behind.


Here’s a link to the BBC web coverage for those who missed it.

I’d love to see the whole speech, but our News only had a brief soundbite - any oration that can command a standing ovationinthe House of Commons must be pretty impressive.

I think mrsface may be right, Cook could become the antiwar leader in the British Labour Party, especially as the Conservatives seem to back the war. If he gets the numbers then Blair could be toppled by the Labour caucus. So this could become very important.

In Australia Simon Crean, the Aussie leader of the opposition, tore strips off John Howard. He basically accused Howard of sending Australian troops into a war of aggression.

The 11 and 1/2 minute speech Robin Cook gave is available from the BBC link you provided. It’s a RealMedia file (unfortunately) but it’s available on the right side near the top, where it says “Robin COOK MP”.

The speech was a brilliant device. It was simple, short, and eloquent, relatively non-inflammatory, generally supportive of both the government and the prime minister, and it left little room for debate (in the scope of the speech itself, that is, not the broader situation). Definitely a move that will be remembered by historians and watchers of political theatre.

Too bad the present foreign secretary, Jack Straw, isn’t coming across one third as eloquent, informed, or sensible. On the contrary, Straw doesn’t seem able to say much of import, or convince anyone of his or Blair’s earnestness. His nasal reiterations are becoming a major source of annoyance as far as I am concerned–I’d rather hear Bush utter that crap, which is at least worth a (chilling) laugh, or Blair, who can argue the point convincingly.

What this actually means? Not much at present, beyond the obvious shaking of confidence in Blair and his bizarre stance on Iraq. But momentous things have a habit of starting modestly. With sentiments against a self-serving unilateral US war growing at home, the UK may finally admit that the Bush way is not precisely the smartest course of action at this point.

If that happens, the US may be crucially isolated, leaving countries like Spain and Australia to express their support in terms of world opinion and UN matters. Spain and Australia aren’t viewwed terribly seriously right now, since they are seen as angling for US favour (even jeopardizing domestic support for it). Most of the other pro-war nations do not carry very much credibility in the world arena either (Bulgaria??).

In short, Cook’s resignation is the final confirmation that Blair has put his political career on the line with his ineffable support for Bush’s unreasoned charge to war. The war will almost certainly not be averted because of it, but it’s probable that more people will be encouraged to stop and think objectively about the developing events and realize how downright bizarre and undeserving of support Bush’s war is.

Short’s staying put and is being widely condemned for backtracking on her previous threat to resign.

Perhaps she’s been persuaded that Blair couldn’t stand another cabinet resignation at this time, perhaps she’s been persuaded that she’ll have a job to do in rebuilding Iraq, or perhaps she’s just an unreliable bulshitter who sounds off about principle without considering the consequences. You decide.

I choose … the latter. She’s destroyed whatever political credibility she had.

The full speech can be read here . When a member of the cabinet who would have been present at high level briefings says

I have to believe that the threat is less than we have been led to believe. Cook will have added to the amount of rebels when the commons vote today about the war. Blair should still win that vote but it’s looking more possible that he will have to rely on the support of the Tories to get it through. I’m hearing ~160 rebels is being forcast. If this happens Blair will be on very thin ice. I would be disappointed if Blair feel over this issue but he’s running that risk.

Are you sure he resigned? Maybe he’s just in a coma.

Very goood speech last night by Cook.

Today, well, today (Tuesday) … is going to be one mother of a day in Parliament. This is high drama, high dudgeon and high noon all at once - the most fantastic spectacle, IMHO. If there’s another democracy that debates the issues of the day to this extent, at this level and incorporating every shade of opinion, I don’t know of it. Then stir in the career stakes, the reputations, the oratory … and you have something Hollywood could only dream of.

You know, If Gordon Brown thought enough Tory’s would vote against the Government (think about that !), the game might really be afoot. As it is, IDS supports Blair and so will enough Tory’s to save Blair’s bacon. IMHO, but only for now;

“A week is a long time in politics” – Harold Wilson

What an enormous week this is gong to be …

A third minister just quit:

(BBC breaking news email - highly recommended if you’re a news slut like me).

[London Calliing**, I quite agree, Westminster is quite the thing right now. Cook’s speech last night was excellent and should of won over a few waverers.

However I doubt he has the personnal support within the party to cause more than surface damage.

I also suspect the labour whips will be able to sell France’s actions as unreasonable and keep a few would be lefties onside.

About 160 labour rebels sounds about right to me.

As far as Brown goes I wouldn’t be shocked if Blairs made him some mighty big promises to keep him loyal. He’s still a fairly sure bet to be the next prime minster.

Pah, Clare Short has backtracked.