There have been an awful lot of column inches used in the press and blogs this past week or so summarising the evidence being gathered by the Chilcott Enquiry into the Iraq War, so I shall not waste either your or my time by repeating it.
I do however wish to draw your attention to one of the most important people serving in Government at the time who will not be able to give evidence to this enquiry, namely Robin Cook.
During their respective appearances before the Inquiry, both Geoff Hoon and Lord Turnbull praised Robin Cook, who resigned in protest at the imminent invasion. Cook was “absolutely spot on”, said Turnbull.
Robin Cook died in mysterious circumstances in 2005, but gave one of the most insightful resignation speeches on 17th March 2003 that the House of Commons has witnessed, drawing a standing ovation. He made clear that our participation with the US led coalition lacked any legal base, that hostility from our traditional allies and friends coupled with a total lack of public appetite for war would draw us into something for which we were ill prepared.
His resignation speech is a matter of public record, but I feel that it is worth providing a link to his words again, to remind that the warnings were there and that some politicians did have the guts and decency to make the right decisions, unlike slippery Jack Straw.
Straw it seems could not bring himself to give up the power he had accumulated, who now tells the Inquiry that he could have used that power of veto in cabinet to stop British participation in the invasion, but didn’t, that he had a contingency plan, but didn’t bring it before cabinet or use it, and could have resigned as Robin Cook had done, but didn’t.
By their deeds shall they be judged, not by their words. If Straw is to stand for re-election in May we now know the politician he is, and I hope the public vote accordingly.
Straw really is a fraction of a man beside the decent and honourable late Robin Cook.