Robin Cook’s resignation speech is being hailed as a great parliamentary moment but frankly such eulogies are indulgent introspection at a time like this. It matters not whether Cook is a good speaker – he is – but whether he is right or not. Obviously I think he is wrong. But if his speech is to go down history then lets see whether this little phrase will stand up in a few months time:

“Iraq probably has no weapons of mass destruction in the commonly understood sense of the term – namely a credible device capable of being delivered against a strategic city target.”

I’ll leave the analysis of what this resignation means for Blair to the far more able British Spin but I have to disagree with Stephen Pollard’s view of Clare Short’s decision to stay.

Stephen says: “Good to see that the famously witty Clare Short has managed once more to keep us all in stitches. Clearly, her interview last week, in which she held out the hope that she would leave the Cabinet if Britain attempted to remove Saddam and liberate Iraq, was yet another of her well-known comedy routines.
Why else would she have to decided not to resign from the Cabinet? It couldn’t, after all, be because she is a hypocritical egomaniac. Of course not. ”

Short’s decision to stay and to back Blair in today’s vote is a major boost for the government. As the most traditionally left member of the cabinet she has shown that this is not a left-right issue (after all there are plenty of Tories against the war) and she has shown that it is possible to support this action even if one feels that the diplomacy has been a mess and regrets the absence of UN support.

On top of that the timing of her decision has had the effect of dampening the impact of Cook’s decision to go – it was probably unintentional but welcome nonetheless.

Meanwhile Blogland’s own MP Tom Watson was sat close to Cook during his resignation speech and wishes he was sat elsewhere.

He also tells us of the words that really moved him in London yesterday:

“To hear his (Cook’s) moral case for no conflict contrasted to the moral case for a conflict put to me earlier in the day by the PM of the Kurds in Northern Iraq. “We have had 35 years of tyranny, and this is our last chance” he told me.

I also met a woman who had witnessed her sister drenched in petrol and set alight by Saddam’s Republican Guard. 100 people were made to witness the event and threatened with being shot if they tried to extinguish the flames. She talked about the acid pools and the torture chambers. She told me how 21 members of her family died in the chemical attack at Halabja.

Why am I writing this? Well, it’s because I’m now convinced there is not a moral case for inaction.