Clare Short, the International Development Secretary, has decided to remain in her cabinet job despite public threats to quit over war against Iraq without a fresh United Nations mandate.
Her decision to stay, follows the resignations of Health Minister, Lord Hunt of Kings Heath and the leader of the House of Commons, Robin Cook who objected to military action taking place without a new UN resolution. They were joined on the backbenches by 7 junior Labour Ministers and Parliamentary Private Secretaries who also resigned over Iraq.
Do you agree with the decisions of Robin Cook and Lord Hunt to leave the cabinet? Should Clare Short have resigned? What does it mean for Tony Blair? What impact will it have on the government?
This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below:
Clare Short could have expressed her opposition to the war quietly to the Prime Minister and her Cabinet colleagues but no she went straight to the press. She was obviously more interested in the media attention than in objecting to the war and I am convinced that she never thought she would have to carry out her threat. Then faced with the prospect of resigning she has again put her self-interest first. Clare Short should resign and not from the Cabinet but from politics altogether. Her behaviour has been disgraceful.
She was obviously more interested in the media attention
I almost feel sorry for Clare Short - the Blairistas will never forgive her disloyalty, the left will never forgive her high profile sell-out and the nation will never take anything she says seriously again. To imagine that she (or the UK) will have any say in the reconstruction of Iraq is fatuous - the US has already invited tenders from Republican Party donors for the main contracts - so what was she offered? A life peerage? A sinecure at the UN or the EU? Or was it just a mess of potage and thirty pieces of silver?
I think that everybody who has resigned from both the Government and the opposition deserves hearty congratulations on not allowing themselves to be bullied into towing the party line.
At the same time, Clare Short is also to be congratulated for deciding that she can be more help to the Iraqi people from within the Government than from outside.
It's a shame Tony Blair doesn't also resign and do us all a favour.
Whether you agree with her or not - at least you could always say Clare Short was an honest politician - until now. Her failure to carry out her threat to resign and to be conned by Blair (who can have little or no respect for her now) leaves her - in my mind at least - totally without credibility. She is now Blair's poodle in the same way that Blair is the poodle of a very unpleasant and undemocratic USA administration. Nobody can take her views at face value ever again.
She is now Blair's poodle
Dave Elliot, UK
I have total respect for those members of the government who have resigned over this issue. It is encouraging to know that there are politicians who stick to their principles despite the personal cost. And how sad to know that there are members of the government (Clare Short) who are happy to forget their principles in the face of the loss of ministerial perks and others (John Prescott) who do not even know who their government colleagues are! Should these sorts of people really be running this country.. and how can we believe that they are doing the right thing on any matter, let alone waging unnecessary war?
Chris M, UK
The vilification of Clare Short is misplaced. She had the courage to say what millions think: Tony Blair is being reckless. And now she is remaining in place to mitigate against the war he so believes in. That is true stateswomanship! We are citizens of the world and England is a tiny player. This war is US driven and whatever this country did, debated or voted would not have altered the lust for war. I applauded her courage on speaking out and I applaud her courage in staying in post as International Development Secretary. What does it mean for Tony Blair and the government? A benefit they don't deserve!
Sandra Lucille, England
When push came to shove, Clare Short showed her true colours by putting her political career over her principles. In the end, she will have neither.
I have a lot of respect for Clare Short for her anti-war stance. I understand her reasons for not quitting. Indeed by quitting she would disempowered herself from doing any good or asking difficult question of the Government.
I understand her reasons for not quitting
Naeem Mohammad, England
It was not the right decision. I am very sad about the prime ministers ideas. The UK does not need the backing of the US. We can handle our country alone I hope
Mr Cook can hardly be called a pacifist; after all he materially supported the NATO aggression against Yugoslavia. Thus, his strong action against Blair's pro-Iraq War stance should be seen as significant. The trouble is that Blair shares Bush's fanatical principles regarding the Middle East.
Paul Papadopoulos, Athens Greece
Claire Short - such a fragile ego. She's bought the line that she's an indispensable feature of the re-building of Iraq and, for once, has come across as a 'career' and not a 'conviction' politician.
David Atkinson, UK
It just goes to show what a great leader Mr Blair is to be able to persuade a seasoned 'resigner' to stay at the critical moment.
Is it any coincidence that Clare Short changed her position at exactly the same time that opinion polls showed some shift towards agreeing with going to war? Tony has taught her wisely. "These are my principles and if you don't like them, I'll change them."
"These are my principles and if you don't like them, I'll change them"
Gladys Stovies, UK
I am a Frenchman living in Paris. I have read some excerpts of Tony Blair's speech at the House of Commons where he mentioned France 10 times to be the reason for not having obtained a second UN resolution authorizing war.
I believe, the Prime Minister may overestimate a bit our country's influence in the world. Basically he is saying that France's influence on non permanent members of the security council at the UN is more powerful than the billions the US have promised for a favourable vote, or even threats of economic sanctions the US have used.
Who will believe that? I am convinced the British people will not, as Mr Cook did not.
Russia, China, European public opinions were not even mentioned.
I profoundly respect any country's position, especially of a great democracy like the UK, but I really would have preferred that Mr Blair used other arguments than finger pointing another country that disagrees with his position.
Claire Short is now prepared to vote for "reckless" war and destruction so that she can have the honour of rebuilding a devastated Iraq. I am disgusted by such vanity at the expense of so many innocent lives.
Bravo Mr. Cook, Lord Hunt and John Denham. Thank you for your support against war. I find it really surprising and disgusting that men still cling on to the idea of war would settle all international disputes. Haven't we learnt from all the wars and suffering we had over the past few centuries? Let's create a really civilised society and not a prehistoric environment.
Real political bravery is putting the national and international interest ahead of your own heartfelt convictions. It would have been so easy for her to resign and claim a place with the others on the "moral high ground". Instead she has decided (rightly in my opinion) to stay and face the overwhelming criticism undoubtedly heading her way so that she can continue doing her vital job. She is probably the most committed and genuine International Development Secretary we have ever had and I am delighted she will continue in her job.
Real political bravery is putting the national and international interest ahead of your own heartfelt convictions
Philip Ward, UK
Perhaps you should read the essay by Winston Churchill's grandson. He urges all to learn a history lesson, as those who don't learn are doomed to repeat the mistakes of the past. I am thankful that PM Blair is a man of character, who at great personal political risk, is doing what he feels is in the world's best interest. After this war is done and the tale is told, and hidden weapons are revealed (hopefully unused against our soldiers or against Iraqis), I think that many will view the Prime Minister and President Bush in a different light.
David Cooper, USA
To David Cooper in the USA - thanks for the history lesson David - did you know Winston Churchill was the last British Leader to gas the Kurds? Your leaders only sold the stuff so that Saddam could do it himself - you introduced self service shopping to the world nice to know your still helping us out.
Dave Elliot, UK
I'd just like to point out to everybody who seems to like speaking for "the majority of the people in this country", that as we don't have any idea what every voter in this country votes. Whether you agree with this war or not, we elected the government we have to represent us and act in our stead, then surely we have to accept what we consider to be the good with the bad. It think it's about time that everyone got behind the government we have elected and showed the support that Mr Blair is willing to show to our staunchest allies.
The vote in the Commons yesterday was not really about whether we should go to war or not but more about saving Blair's political standing. Once he had backed himself into a corner by sending troops to the Gulf and saying that we had to have a second UN resolution he had no where else to go. So it was imperative he got the backing of the Commons otherwise he was finished. Of course he still might be if the war doesn't go according to plan.
Mike Mayhew, UK
I spent nights listening to the debates in the House of Commons about the Iraq issues. Tony Blair is just great. My heart is with him who stood tall with clear mind and clear heart and with the best intentions and deeds he could ever have. The UK has its best person as Prime Minister who can work untiringly so well during this very difficult and trying time. Tony Blair needs our support even we might disagree with him on some points.
M Pagco, Philippines
Clare Short has now lost all credibility. Robin Cook as a former Foreign Secretary must know more than most about the true situation across the globe. He has said that there are no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. I would rather believe him than Bush or Blair any day. With the net and satellite tv, the public know too much now for our `leaders' to try to pull the wool over our eyes.
Robin Cook as a former Foreign Secretary must know more than most about the true situation
Kathleen Hines, England
How un-political of John Denham, Lord Hunt, and Robin Cook to resign. Do they realize that the people have voted them in to office, not their personal beliefs or conscience? I say hats off to Clare Short for realizing her Prime Minister needs her support at such a critical time. Tony Blair is one of the best Prime Ministers England has ever had and I support him more than I do G.Bush. It is too bad he isn't in charge to oust Saddam!!
Politics needs more people like Clare Short, I think her candidness and openness has actually improved the governments image in my eyes. Politicians want us to believe they are all perfect, never make mistakes and certainly never disagree with their superiors- yet we all know this isn't true.
Clare's u-turn decision cannot have been easy and it will never be forgotten by the media but I think she can do no more than what she feels is right and furthermore, I think that she has made the right choice to stay.
The prime minister is elected to lead the country. The security forces of the UK and US are renowned for their intelligence gathering power. I don't like the idea of war, but I have total trust in Blair in making the best decisions. The world isn't as simple as the tabloids and activists would like us to believe - I support TB because I trust him to do his job.
David H, Glasgow, UK
So Clare Short thinks she'll be vilified.
Maybe. But more to the point, she'll simply be ignored and never, ever taken seriously again for the rest of her political career.
You have to respect the opinions and positions taken by Robin Cook and Lord Hunt. Equally, we must respect the courage of conviction displayed by Tony Blair. War is a divisive issue and it takes a strong resolve to prevail. Make no mistake; Saddam Hussein will be removed from power and exposed as the tyrant he is. Let's get the job done and over with so that we can refocus our energies on building a secure world for our children, free of the threat of rogues and terrorists.
War is a divisive issue and it takes a strong resolve to prevail.
Stuart Chinnery, USA
I applaud Clare Short for her honesty in deciding to stay in the Cabinet. She has done an excellent job as International Development Secretary and she will have a crucial role to play in the post-war redevelopment of Iraq. She has always said what she believes in - and her 'reckless' comments are no different. The Cabinet, and government, is stronger for her staying in and arguing her case.
The only politician I trust in this whole affair is PM Blair. He is the only politician who is not playing the populist card. Only if he were really convinced of the danger posed by Saddam Hussein would he consider the loss of his position as a fair price to pay for our safety.
Allan Masson, Scotland
Anyone who chooses to be a member of a decision making group such as the cabinet has to abide by the decisions of that group. That is called group responsibility. By resigning Robin Cook has made it clear that he is with the group while the decisions agree with his opinions. Clare Short has had the courage to accept the group responsibility and stay with it despite her personal opinions. All credit to her. She deserves to be listened to in the future because she is prepared to try to make the system work. Let us hope Robin Cook disappears without trace, his latest petulant act has only served to underline how unreliable the man is.
Clare Short has had the courage to accept the group responsibility
Ian, UK and USA
To Ian UK/USA: Being a responsible cabinet minister does not make you an automaton - blindly supporting your leader. Rather it makes it necessary to resign if the cabinet makes decisions that conflict with your core beliefs. Robin Cook and Lord Hunt have admirably lived up to this responsibility. Clare Short came up short. Tony Blair has cleaned his cabinet of responsible ministers.
Ian, New Zealand
Robin Cook has done well - been true to his convictions - and I think he is in the right. On the other hand, Clare Short has turned out to be a bit of a traitor all around.
I listened to Robin Cook's speech and found it well written and had many good points. I know nothing about him except from this speech and what I have read others to say. Being an American and observing our politicians, I find that most make speeches for political reasons more often than for moral reasons. I hope his is the latter. With this having been said I am also impressed with Tony Blair, who under extreme pressure has made an extremely difficult decision. I believe his motives are just as moral as that of Robin Cook. Only time will tell who was right. But I also believe in a crisis all should pull together once a decision is made.
In a crisis all should pull together
Gary Weis, USA
It is my view that Clare Short has no place in our Government and should be fired. It is my view that Robin Cook doesn't amount to much of a man anyway and the sooner the international community stand up for the American cause for freedom and justice the better off our world will be.
Anthony G. Walsh, Canada
I could not stand Clare Short when she sat on the opposition benches. But I have come through to respect her a great deal. Ms. Short has developed a caring and extremely efficient and responsive government department for International Aid. Her officials work hard, and answer requests with a generosity of spirit which is missing from many other government departments. I respect her honesty and the fact she will express her opinions - sometimes without too much thought. However, I am pleased she has changed her mind. She should be congratulated on staying and acting as wise counsel to the Prime Minister. No shame in changing one's mind. Well done!
Lawrie Townson, UK
It is refreshing to see politicians with some degree of moral conviction. Listening to the debate in the house makes me wish George W. would be forced to defend his position in public and not just in a press conference.
Is this the same Tony Blair who is presiding over the painfully slow IRA decommissioning of weapons in Northern Ireland (with far less progress than Hans Blix achieved)? Will he be giving the IRA 48 hours before there are 'serious consequences'?
Will he be giving the IRA 48 hours before there are 'serious consequences'?
It is indeed discouraging to see Clare Short who seemed to stand up for a principle suddenly finding it possible to compromise, and without any credible explanation as to why she changed her mind.
Why does no-one critically appraise Bush? He wants Hussein to leave Iraq within 48 hours......then who would be in control of these so-called weapons?
Dr S Patel, UK
I don't know what Blair did to get Clare Short to stay, but she's serving well to undermine the commitment of the anti-war factions.
I never thought I would distrust and detest a politician more than Margaret Thatcher, but Blair's deceit and duplicity make her look like a harmless old bag lady.
'We will get our chance in the next election to let them know what we think' - we certainly will - I will be voting Labour for the first time in my life!
What if after the war we fail to find any weapons? Should Bush and Blair resign? Will they?
Clare Short's decision to remain in cabinet this week makes her a more important support fore the war-coalition, than she could have been last week for the anti-war coalition. She has done more damage than good, hopefully also to her own career. Staying in the Cabinet for a sake of post-war humanitarian tasks won't fool anybody.
Staying in the Cabinet for a sake of post-war humanitarian tasks won't fool anybody
Per Danbo, Denmark
Things have moved on since Clare Short made her speech last week. I respect a politician who deals with the facts rather than holding to a position to save face.
Clare Short the woman with the highest morals in the land. Provided they don't hit her in the status or pocket department.
Tony King, UK
When all this is over, who will remember those that resigned? Surely the harder line would have been to stay within the government and try to change opinions from within; they took the easy option for maximum self publicity.
Tony Blair no longer seems interested in the views of the people or his cabinet. He is for some reason so intent on following George Bush whatever he chooses to do. Robin Cook was absolutely right. If Tony Blair was fighting valiantly to try and get a second resolution how come that suddenly it is not important any more?
I think Clare Short should be applauded in her decision to stay. The whole Iraq scenario is hallmarked with personal ambition, questionable motives and division. Right now our position as a country is very serious and the best we can do is put aside differences now for the common good. I was glad that Clare Short has led the field with this, probably to her personal detriment.
I must admit I never liked Mr Cook, but his stand on this issue and the poignant speech he made changed my mind about him, both as individual and as professional. Well done Mr Cook. As for Mrs Short, she has gambled on public trust and her job position, but by the end she will loose both.
Mrs A Parks, England
I would like to express my admiration for Clare Short's decision to stick with her departmental responsibilities. She has been a hugely successful overseas aid minister, and is bound to play a very significant role in the reconstruction of Iraq after the (hopefully short) war. The innocent people of Iraq will benefit greatly from Ms Short's skill and dedication.
The innocent people of Iraq will benefit greatly from Ms Short's skill and dedication
I can't believe Clare Short has been so foolish. What makes her think she'll get her way on the reconstruction of Iraq or Israel anymore than she got it on the war? These things are not in Tony Blair's gift. The US will decide as they see fit, and she'll be marginalised and probably sacked shortly after.
What is Clare Short now? Conscientious objector? Principled Blair ally? How can either he or we trust her again? Sooner she's gone the better for everyone.
Jason, Great Britain
Well done Robin Cook. Well done Lord Hunt. Well done John Denham. In taking and maintaining your stance you represent a dying breed of politician, one who holds dear their own principles, and more importantly, the principles that reflect the majority of our current electorate.
Richard Orme, England
For all we know, she was the political "Stalking Horse" needed to "encourage" other lame duck politicians to follow her lead initially thus enabling Mr Blair to rid himself of his "Tempestuous priests" of peace without being seen to have dirtied his own hands with sackings? Her private meetings with our PM before Mr Cook resigned should have rang alarm bells amongst New Labour MPs.
Don F, UK
There is division everywhere...The good thing about division is the line is drawn and you know where everyone stands. Move on and elect those who will support the direction of the leaders. WE in the US, support PM Blair for his courage and undeniable strength during a very difficult time.
Well done to Robin for standing by his principles. I don't think many of us would have the courage to throw our careers for our principles. I hope Clare's motives are as genuine, but I personally feel she has let her cause down.
I hope Clare's motives are as genuine, but I feel she has let her cause down
Kevin, Midlands, UK
Going back on your word when the word was so strong might be more damaging to Short's reputation and career than the whole war affair will be for Blair, because for a moment there, we thought there was one person in the cabinet with her integrity intact; we have been proved wrong.
Melanie, London, UK
It is funny how Robin Cook gets applause for sticking to his convictions and yet Tony Blair gets condemnation. If Tony Blair changed his mind at the last minute, would be a hypocrite like Clare Short?
Seeing that Robin Cook is now at a loose end, I'm wondering if he would be interested in leading the US Democratic party?
Clare Short will be forever remembered for her hypocrisy in this whole sad episode in British politics. It just goes to show that even the most 'principled' politician can be bought off.
Clare Short used to be a symbol of the moral side of the Labour party. Her decision smacks of simple self interest and expediency. She and her colleagues have lost credibility, so it is strangely appropriate she stays on the sinking ship. We will all get our chance in the next election to let them all know what we think.
We will get our chance in the next election to let them know what we think
We as the general public are not privy to all the sensitive information the secret service has on Saddam and his WMDs. Robin Cook on the other hand, as a member of the cabinet, was. We have to trust his decision to resign!! We should be praising Robin Cook for his courage.
I wonder would Robin Cook have resigned if he were still Foreign Secretary? Or is this get back at Blair time?
At least Robin Cook realises that the MP's are elected to represent the people of this country and as public opinion in most constituencies will be against this war he has done the proper thing and stood by his principles which it seems other members of the government have not. For once we have seen morals put before power its a shame the rest haven't learnt from him.
I entirely agree that Cook should leave. This is not a time for lily livered people who lack the ability to foresee the dangers of allowing powerful dictatorships to dominate our lives and those of many innocent people.
Clare Short is nothing but a laughing stock. I can only assume her silence has been bought by promises of titles.
Mike O'Niell, UK
I actually feel quite sorry for Clare Short - she's damned if she does and damned if she doesn't. The views expressed on this page show that people have very different views on whether cabinet ministers should resign or not and she can't possibly please both sets. My criticism is that she should have thought this through before opening her mouth last week.
Although I am against the war and admire Robin Cook for resigning, I have equal admiration for Clare Short. She is going to face a difficult time ahead as possibly the only senior Labour minister in the Cabinet who refuses to do everything the US wants. We need people who can think for themselves and not always go along with the majority.
She is going to face a difficult time as possibly the only senior minister in the Cabinet who refuses to do everything the US wants
Robin Cook has managed to make a difficult decision with dignity and principle. His tone was measured, not hectoring or hysterical. Clare Short, on the other hand, deserves all of the opprobrium that will doubtless be (rightly) heaped upon her.
I fully expected that Clare Short would resign and was surprised that she didn't. I am certain that she must have agonized over her decision, but in the end I believe that she came to believe that she could do more in government than out of it, especially to help the people of Iraq in reconstructing their country when the war is finished.
Gary Mofield, UK and USA
I can respect any MP for sticking to his or her principles no matter which side of the argument they are on. What I cannot respect is someone who gives an ultimatum of the sort that Clare Short gave, and then finds weasel words to let them duck out of it. Principles are one of the few things that a person has which cannot be taken from them. They can only be thrown away.
David Hazel, UK
What is the point of being an MP in a parliamentary democracy, supposedly representing the electorate, AND having personal opinions, and then voting against both?
Well done for Robin Cook, he has done the right thing. He should not be accused of rebelling against the party. It's Tony, Jack and Clare who should be accused of rebelling against us. With help of the Tories, you'll be fine in this issue, but after the war, what will happen? Will the Tories still support Blair? Will the Labour backbenchers ever trust Blair again, after betraying against his country?
It's Tony, Jack and Clare who should be accused of rebelling against us
The government can ill-afford to lose people of the calibre of Robin Cook, John Denham and Lord Hunt.
Robert Crosby, Nottingham, UK
Robin Cook is only looking out for himself and any future leadership ambitions he has. It's time to take action on Iraq. I don't think Clare Short has compromised her position.
Ms. Short has given a clear demonstration as to why people in the UK have no faith, confidence nor trust in UK politicians of ANY political persuasion. This is the only "useful" facet of her despicable behaviour.
Alan Hall, UK
Lord Hunt, Mr. Denham, and Mr. Cook are undoubtedly three of the bravest men in this as yet un-fought war. I am a long time Labour supporter, and I will say now that Mr. Cook's speech nearly moved me to tears. While I cannot say the same for Ms. Short, I am not completely against her. She has backed down, there is no question of that, but she may yet turn out to be a good minister.
Dante Mazzari, US
Mr. Cook was foreign secretary during the war against Yugoslavia which was fought without any UN authorisation. Can Mr. Cook explain what steps did he undertake in order to secure an authorization and why did not he resign when he could not get it.
Clare Short's decision to stay in the cabinet is deeply disturbing. How can she, of all people, stay when others follow their convictions and resign? She had disgraced herself and insulted all people who have remained firm that there needs to be UN approval for military action. I hope she will pay in the next elections.
Clare Short's decision to stay in the cabinet is deeply disturbing
The resignation of Robin cook and John Denham is an absolute bombshell when not a single shot has been fired. Their decision to leave the cabinet at this time is pure nonsense. Where have the days gone when you stood by your Prime Minister?
Lisa Rees, United Kingdom
Congratulations to Robin Cook & Lord Hunt for having the moral fortitude to act on your beliefs. Britain should be proud of you. We Australians aren't so lucky.
Bernard Fudge, Australia
To be able to think again and change your mind is a sign of strength and wisdom - not weakness.
Bjorn Lynne, UK
Ms Short is a conviction politician who makes a living from taking the so called moral high ground on every issue. Regrettably, for her, she has had to choose between her convictions and her lifestyle. Her lifestyle won. The voters might remember that at the next election.
As a believer in a compassionate Labour Party I have always admired the likes of Clare Short particularly her reasons for not supporting war given by her on radio. I am utterly shocked and amazed at the speedy turnaround and do not accept the assurances she has given about commitment to peace in the Middle East and about handling the humanitarian crisis in the aftermath of war. She has lost all credibility with me and I am sure thousands of others in the country like me.
She has lost all credibility with me
I disagree with Robin Cook; but I have to admire the quiet dignity of a principled man, a rare thing in New Labour. An even rarer event is a minister resigning on a matter of conviction.
David Pilkington, UK
I've admired Clare Short for a long time but no longer. Her hypocrisy, lack of courage and self-serving decision to remain in the cabinet destroys the last tiny piece of faith I had in the Labour government. I feel certain that none of us will ever trust her again.
The difference between Clare Short and others like Robin Cook is that Clare Short sensibly recognises that there is a job ahead to do pragmatically to influence and shape the future in Iraq.
The ministers resigning whilst satisfying their own consciences have given up on the primary principle in politics, particularly exemplified by New Labour of pragmatically achieving what is positive and possible.
Ms Short is obviously arrogant enough to believe that her presence in government is vital to the interests of post war Iraq and the wider International context. Her resignation would have made a much more powerful statement in the post Iraq war world order.
Her resignation would have made a much more powerful statement in the post Iraq war world order
Stephen Calver, UK
Not only does Clare Short now look weak and unprincipled but she will almost certainly lose her job in the next reshuffle. What purpose does that serve?.
We as the general public are not privy to all the sensitive information the secret service has on Saddam and his WMDs. We have to trust their decisions!! We should be praising Bush/Blair for there courage.
Charles Montaque, England
How, in the aftermath of war when Short declares she is doing everything she can to help the poor of Iraq, will anyone with sense or memory believe her? She is sanctioning war for god's sake. I can at least respect Blair's conviction even if I may think he is fundamentally wrong. I have lost any remaining respect for Clare.
Andrew Wright, UK
Clare Short makes a grand gesture trying to show she is listening to her constituents, and then as soon as her career is in jeopardy she runs with her tail between her legs. She has no credibility and how does she expects people to believe anything she says.
Well done Robin Cook. Standing by his morals and doing what he said he would. What a shame Clare Short hasn't the courage to do so, is her cabinet post more important than her earlier convictions?
Well done Robin Cook. Standing by his morals and doing what he said he would
Charles Spicer, U.K.
From a continental perspective, Robin Cook's resignation and the overwhelming reaction to it, are very reassuring signals.
Since German press coverage of the UK focuses mainly on the government, it looked for a moment as if the UK was about to become the 51st state of the US and confine itself to echoing the unbearable US propaganda.
It's a shame that the European governments can't seem to find a common position although the majority of the people they represent agree.
The idea that "she can do more for the Iraqi people as International Development Secretary than from the back benches" is pure fantasy. Does she honestly think that Bush will let her anywhere near the country when the coup has taken place?
When a country is on the verge of armed conflict, ALL Ministers should stand with the government. Robin Cook's "morals" should not interfere with his loyalty to his country. They never have before!
Marie Firth, United Kingdom
Regardless of whether the war is just or not, Robin Cook et al have done the honourable thing, in that they have remained true to their personal convictions. Clare Short, on the other hand, has made a grand (and very public) announcement that she would resign and then decided against it. Whether she has agonised over her decision or not is not the question - she should her agonising before her announcing, not afterwards.
John B, UK
Cook's arguments are full of holes. On his point that the UN has taken no action over Israeli flouting of its resolutions I can only say two wrongs do not make a right. On the point that we would not be going to war were Al Gore President I can only say this may be true but it is irrelevant. UK is no longer a superpower and must always act with allies on questions of international security. Accepting that we can only influence and not dictate the agenda the key question is whether or not any joint action is justified.
Clare Short should understand the idea of "collective responsibility". If the Cabinet is pro-war, and she is a member of the Cabinet, then SHE is pro-war. She cannot have it both ways. She should resign from the Cabinet, just as she has resigned from her ideals.
She should resign from the Cabinet, just as she has resigned from her ideals
Alex Anderson, The Netherlands
Alex Anderson, The Netherlands
If everyone in the cabinet who disagreed with Blair on this matter resigned, we'd just have even more "yes men" there to replace them. No, far better to have a couple of principled right minded thinkers in situ.
Remember that those who resign *on principle* are people who will no longer have a significant voice within government. If Clare Short has reviewed her decision in this light and decided to stay, then she should be applauded, not vilified. By taking a stand against the government, and resigning, the three ministers (so far) may have turned their backs on the Iraqi people when they are needed the most
Cook's resignation speech was a masterful summary of why the nauseating hypocrisy of Bush and Blair must be opposed. In particular, his comments about the double standards of the UK and US over Israel and Iraq are right to the point.
Clare Short's hypocritical turnaround is really no surprise. There are a number of cabinet ministers who have opted for the comfortable life rather than follow their principles or the wishes of their constituents.
Regardless if you are for or against Bush & Blair, Clare Short has just made herself a joke which does not carry weight with the voters.
Clare Short is one of the few politicians who I believe acts with the greater good in mind. Where Tony Blair has been a restraining force on George Bush, perhaps Clare is hoping to have the same effect on Blair. After all, she can have more influence in Cabinet than out of it.
Where Blair has been a restraining force on Bush, perhaps Clare is hoping to have the same effect on Blair
Sandra Beeson, UK
I have heard people say that Robin Cook's resignation won't hurt Mr Blair as much as, say, Geoffrey Howe's resignation hurt The Iron Lady. I couldn't disagree more. This is the man who led Blair's campaign team for leader of the Labour Party in 1994. This is a loss indeed!
Andrew Kaye, England
Any law abiding MP with principle should resign at this reckless disregard for international law.
Ray Livesey, UK
Clare Short took a risky gamble, so it seemed. But when it mattered, it became apparent, it was just hot air. A quick attention grabbing media win. Claire you are undoubtedly the most contemptible sycophant in the government.
West Yorks, UK
I never thought I would say this, but I have to admire Robin Cook for making a principled resignation, a very rare event in this culture of 'nobody is to blame'. As for Clare Short - well she can talk the talk but can't walk the walk!! I expect the loss of her salary had a lot to do with it.
I thought that Robin Cook's speech was brilliant. I am very impressed by his stand, and urge other MPs to listen to their constituents and do the job they were elected to do - represent the people.
Sara Clark, UK
Clare Short should learn to engage her brain and analyse her thoughts / emotions before making them public.
Clare Short treats her life as a daytime soap opera. Her melodramatic ways have no place in our respectable government. All soap operas eventually come to an end; it's time for Clare to go.
Shauna, Norwich, UK
Clare Short is a politician of enormous conviction and principal. It is easy to criticise, but it is clear she has agonised over her decision not to resign and obviously realises the consequences of this for her reputation. She runs a department that is involved in trying to end world poverty. I think she is right to stay. Britain plays a major international role in trying to end world poverty. It is largely due to the personal commitment of Clare Short that so much has been achieved.
It is clear she has agonised over her decision not to resign
Adam Matthews, United Kingdom
Adam Matthews, United Kingdom
Clare Short unfortunately illustrates exactly why the public have such little trust in politicians.
Howard Wren, Australia / UK
I am glad that Cook has gone and I think Short should go too. If it is too hot in the kitchen then one should get out.
Clare Short should go now. Total hypocrisy. I now have a lot of respect for Robin Cook.
Well done John Denham, Robin Cook and Lord Hunt. Claire short should be ashamed of herself and tried, along with the entire cabinet at the time war breaks out for complicity in crimes against humanity.
Ken Hall, UK
I listened to the resignation speech of Mr. Cook in the commons. He got a standing ovation because he proved in his speech and action that people of high moral and principals still exist. Mr. Cook reminded me of a role model of people of high morality who are willing to sacrifice for their belief. Hat's off to Mr. Cook, as it happens that I agree with him that war is not inevitable when UN inspectors report that they are progressing.
Samir El-Sayed, Kuwait
Clare Short has discredited herself so much that her decision to stay with the Government must be seen as a great boost to the anti-war movement.
Jurek Czernuszka, England
Cook's speech went a long way to restoring my faith in big-name politicians. He gave a point-by-point rebuttal to every issue that Blair has failed to clarify.
I respected Clare Short for her firm views, down to earth approach and her willingness to put her principles first. She has let all her supporters down - she proves herself to be no better than the majority of MPs who put themselves and their careers first.
Clare Short has let all her supporters down
Robin Cook resigned from the cabinet with great dignity. However I have not forgotten about his two-faced 'ethical foreign policy' or his cheating on his wife. I don't believe he has suddenly found integrity. As for Clare Short, she has demonstrated once again that she speaks without thinking. Who would want her for an ally?
Alan, Scotland, UK
Well, nobody expected Clare Short to resign from a lucrative Cabinet post over a mere matter of principle! Most politicians won't resign even when they are caught with their fingers in the till, or their private parts in an even worse place, so I for one am not surprised!
Martin Brooks, UK
So the 'sceptical' Clare Short is now convinced by the government's case? Presumably now her concerns are allayed the rest of us doubters should follow her lead and get behind Mr Blair? They must think we were all born yesterday.
Unbelievable turn around, no courage to back up her convictions.
Clare Short should go now.
Clare Short's decision is pragmatic at least. She did everything she could to make Blair think again about going to war, but now it is inevitable, she knows she can do more for the Iraqi people as International Development Secretary than from the back benches. Some may say she has lost credibility but I disagree.
I applaud Robin Cook for his decision to stand by his morals and show his support of the majority of people in the UK. Clare Short should have had the courage to stand by her convictions - idle threats help nobody. I hope that this afternoon, the House of Commons does what it is elected to do and represent the people of the UK by rejecting UK action in Iraq.
Idle threats help nobody
What a gutless, hypocritical, self-serving woman Clare Short is.
Her empty threat is indicative of her entire career. Every time she starts to simmer with some strong viewpoint, she turns down the heat and just sides with whoever gives her a cosy life.
We'll never take a single word she utters seriously again.
I cannot believe the hypocrisy of this government, how can we call ourselves a democratic society when we blatantly disregard the wishes of the rest of the world, Blaire and Bush are acting more like dictators than elected representatives.
How can Clare Short even think about staying in a cabinet position after what she said? At least Robin Cook and others stuck to their principles. Can we respect anyone who has such strong views, but is not prepared to stick by them?
Mathew King, UK
Robin Cook gave a characteristically powerful speech in the House of Commons yesterday evening.
He said what the majority of the country are thinking, and with such clarity that Tony Blair cannot continue to ignore the public.
Cook represented what democracy is about, the voice of the people. Tony Blair seems to have forgotten that recently.
Cook represented what democracy is about, the voice of the people
Elizabeth Bond, England
Cook has apparently resigned because an un-elected undemocratic and ineffective organisation has failed to lever itself off the fence. How will he reconcile this with the likely majority in Parliament -an elected, democratic and hence effective organisation - to support action to remove Saddam - If he really is a democrat and a man of principal - he would stay on cabinet and execute the will of parliament - not his own vanity.
Although she can only stand up to Blair if she stays in the government, I find it very disappointing that Clare Short has decided to stay instead of sticking to her openly voiced principles.
Mark Holleman, UK
Well done Robin Cook. His resignation statement was the speech of his life. As he said, how can we believe on the one hand, that Iraq is so weak, yet on the other that it poses a terrible threat to the West? Clare Short is exposed as nothing more than a hypocrite, who is more interested in the trappings of ministerial life, than in what she actually believes.
Stuart Morrison, Scotland
I feel that Clare Short was right not to resign. Her work as International Development Secretary is too important, she still has a great deal to contribute. The Cabinet would be at a greater loss without her.
The Cabinet would be at a greater loss without her
Mr Ami Brodie,
I think it is outrageous that the government is suggesting that the fire-fighters strike to be held this Thursday is illegal and are going to outlaw it, when in the same week they are going to launch a war that the rest of the world considers to be illegal
Philip Hannington, UK
Robin Cook took this opportunity to resign in order to pay back Tony Blair for dumping him as foreign secretary two years ago. In resigning, Cook was able to claim the moral high ground. Clare Short's understanding of politics improves every week. Perhaps now she will settle down. As for Lord Hunt's resignation, who cares?
Roger Symons, UK
For once in his life Robin Cook has done the right thing. It's amazing that he has lasted so long in politics. Perhaps others in the House will also pluck up sufficient courage and do the right thing and resign.
Dr. David Young, Indonesia
Long live Robin Cook.
He is the true spirit of Great Britain.
Clare Short's decision to ignore her principles in favour of her career is simply a further example of the betrayal of the values of liberal democracy. Does anyone really expect politicians to put their beliefs and the views of their supporters before their career anymore? No-one will take Clare Short seriously again !
Jason Garner, UK
Robin Cook's speech to the commons was superb. Now there is a politician with some integrity. Clare Short should look and learn.
Mr. Robin made a right decision. You can not imagine that after more than 50 years, preaching peace in the UN, member states could stay silent for thing that matters for Security Council and UN Charter. A wise man will not create another war before finishing the existing on.
A wise man will not create another war before finishing the existing one
Athman Mwinyi, Tanzania
Frankly, those MPs/ministers who think that it's ethical to play self-serving political games over this issue deserve our contempt and our derision. Clearly for these people, loyalty in challenging times means nothing. The respect due to Tony Blair as a fine statesman acting for the greater good of all is long overdue.
Clare Short deciding to stay in the cabinet just goes to show how shallow her ideals are. You really can't trust politicians.
Andy Barrell, UK
This is a good decision and a well understood and meaningful one, forget the critics, I think she is here to support and rebuild the good Iraq. She cold be help in the cabinet rather than sitting out in the cold.
Hemang, Leics UK
What contribution has Clare Short made to the public debate? One habitually attention-grabbing interview before clinging to office.
Her failings are brought into sharp relief by Robin Cook, who has resigned in a dignified manner, with a resignation speech in the Commons brilliantly encapsulating all the flaws in the pro-war argument. He is a sad loss to a government which already is short of intellectual clout.
This has nothing to do with ideals and everything to do with posturing for position in the event of a challenge to Blair. As Leader of the House, he was hardly a major cabinet member anyway - I suspect that Blair is happy to see him go in the end. Good riddance.
I suspect that Blair is happy to see him go
Simon Cox, UK
I admire his acting on principle. Wish we had a few here who would stand up and be counted. But I think he could do more good from within the government than outside.
He is the only hero of this war not yet fought. My respect is boundless.
I wish that Robin Cook had remained, to keep an illegitimate Government honest and accountable. I have heard no clearer and more powerful political speech in my lifetime.
Dr Mark Donohoe, Australia
I very much agree with his resignation because it's meaningless to the Blair government. I believe he resigned out of a grudge, simply because Tony Blair moved him from the foreign affairs post which he so much cherished. He is a disgrace to the British people.
Kanu, (An African)