Political speech of the decade

There have been other great speeches between 2000 and 2009, and President Obama may have a good claim to making memorable speeches, but I have to stick with the late Mr Robin Cook’s personal statement given on 17 March 2003, in which he resigned from the government, opposing the war in Iraq. I listened to it as it was delivered, and have listened to it a number of times since. Each time, and espeically after his death, his sombre but sonorous voice haunted me. It was dignified, principled, and prescient. I cannot but help feel that Mr Cook belonged to that dying generation of Britons, who command respect for their principles, even if they do not win easy affection. They may not be the most adept politicians, but they get the big questions right.

Hansard — text of the speech: Personal Statement (17 March 2003, columns 276~278)