It was reported today that Robin Cook's epitaph refers to his opposition to the war in Iraq, including the words 'I may not have succeeded in halting the war, but I did secure the right of Parliament to decide on war'.
Robin Cook always makes me think of my dad. He knew Robin quite well (we used to get a Christmas card from him every year with a picture of the Houses of Parliament on it, which I remember being very impressed by). My dad was heavily involved in the Labour party for many years, long before Tony Blair became leader of the party, and Robin came to our house a number of times. I remember having a serious conversation with him about our goldfish.
I respected Robin for his stand against the Goverment (once I had grown up of course, and moved on from worrying about my goldfish), and I know my dad did too. My dad never really said much about Tony Blair and his Government, which was very unlike him - he wasn't backward at coming forward (as my granny would say). He stayed a member of the party long after he had given up on the campaigning side of things, in fact he was a member until the day he died, but I think he was disappointed in them and the fact that they had become mired in all the same sort of shite that the Tory government before them had.
Robin died in August 2005, and my dad in the November of that year. My dad wasn't able to go to Robin's funeral, which I think he was quite upset about. And if Robin had still been here in the November, I think he might have come to my dad's. It's strange, they were very similar in a lot of ways - both highly motivated achievers with a real social conscience - but their paths in life were very different, meeting for a period of a few years in the 1980's. Neither suffered fools gladly either - if their roles had been reversed, my dad wouldn't have stood for Tony's nonsense either.
The world lost two good men in 2005.