The Point of Departure: Why One of Britain's Leading Politicians Resigned over Tony Blair's Decision to Go to War in Iraq

The Point of Departure: Why One of Britain's Leading Politicians Resigned over Tony Blair's Decision to Go to War in Iraq

by Robin Cook (2)


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On 17 March 2003, Robin Cook, Leader of the House of Commons and former Foreign Secretary, resigned from the Cabinet in protest against the coming war in Iraq. His resignation speech against that war prompted the first standing ovation in the history of the House and marked the end of the ministerial career of one of Labour's most brilliant politicians. His arguments against that war are of profound interest and importance to American readers.

For the two years prior to his resignation, Robin Cook kept a diary, a personal record of Labour's second term, that forms the core of this narrative. The Point of Departure is Robin Cook's unvarnished account of this dramatic period in British political history. Though surprised by his abrupt dismissal in 2001 as Foreign Secretary, he became determined to effect the changes in Parliamentary democracy that he believed were essential if Parliament was to move into the twenty-first century. As Tony Blair told Cook on offering him leadership of the House of Commons, "This is the job for you."

Drawing on firsthand experiences in the Commons and the Cabinet, of encounters in conferences and corridors and late-night conversations, Cook details his gathering disillusionment with Tony Blair's change of direction, which he believes to be profoundly mistaken, and, above all, the change in foreign policy that led the United Kingdom away from its destiny in Europe and into participation in President Bush's war in Iraq.

This is the inside story of a government in power — and of the tensions between those who govern. But above all it is the story of a politician who genuinely wanted to bring democracy closer to the people, but who saw a government increasingly detached from the values of himself and his party, and who developed a growing conviction that the government position on Iraq was morally, diplomatically, and politically wrong.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781416578314
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication date: 09/24/2007
Pages: 384
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Robin Cook first entered Parliament as MP for Edinburgh Central in 1974. He held a number of senior positions in Opposition — Shadow Foreign Secretary, Shadow Trade and Industry Secretary, Shadow Health and Social Services Secretary — before becoming Foreign Secretary in 1997. In 2001 he was appointed Leader of the House of Commons, a position from which he resigned in March 2003 in protest against the imminent war in Iraq.

Table of Contents

1.'This is the job for you.': 8 June-24 July 20015
Why Parliament must Modernise23
Democracy and the House of Lords32
2.The Siege of Derry: 9 August 2001-22 January 200235
The US Neo-Con Battle Plan49
Parliament and Press: A Vicious Cycle57
Lords Reform: From Heredity to Patronage?85
3.A Bridge Too Far: 23 January-14 May 200289
Britain and Washington102
The West's Complicity with Saddam116
Britain and Europe130
Parliament and Parties153
4.Putting Parliament First: 15 May-13 August 2002155
The Euro: Collateral Damage of Iraq168
Parliament's Right to Vote on War187
5.We Did Good Work That Night: 15 August-29 October 2002191
The UN: The First Casualty of War205
The September Dossier: Intelligence or Propaganda?214
Modernisation of Parliament: The Summing Up234
6.Moving Apart: 30 October 2002-4 February 2003239
Containment: A Strategy that Worked252
Misreading the Public Mood269
Lords Reform: Lost Among the Options279
7.The Final Break: 5 February-17 March 2003283
Saddam and al-Qa'ida: The Missing Link287
Humanitarian Intervention and the UN294
The Second Term: A Missed Opportunity303
How Real a Threat?310
8.After the Battle Was Over327
9.Where Do We Go From Here?339
AppendixResignation Speech, 17 March 2003361

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