Robin Cook

On this date in 1946, diplomat Robert Finlayson “Robin” Cook was born in Bellshill, Lanarkshire, Scotland. Cook attended Aberdeen Grammar School, where he was nicknamed Robin, and graduated with an honors degree in English literature at Edinburgh University, where he was the features editor of the student newspaper.

After chairing the Scottish Association of Labour Students in the 1966-67 academic year, Cook became a lecturer with the Workers’ Educational Association. He served as secretary of the Edinburgh City Labour party in the early 1970s and was elected to the Edinburgh Corporation at age 26, one of Scotland’s youngest councillors. Cook held prominent posts in the Labour Party, including spokesman on economic affairs, shadow health secretary, Tony Blair’s foreign affairs spokesman (in 1994), and foreign affairs secretary in 1997, when Labour came to power.

Cook quit his post in Blair’s cabinet in 2003 because he had, according to BBC News, become “increasingly angry” about his failure to convince the prime minister to avoid war against Iraq. Cook died at the age of 59 after suffering a heart attack while walking in the Highlands of Scotland. At Cook’s funeral service, Richard Holloway, who led the service, “told mourners that as an avowed atheist Mr. Cook would have raised a ‘quizzical eyebrow’ at the service being held in St. Giles Cathedral. But he said it was an ‘entirely appropriate’ venue because … Mr. Cook was a ‘Presbyterian atheist.’ ” (BBC News, Aug. 12, 2005)

PHOTO: Cook in 1997 at a meeting with U.S. Defense Secretary William Cohen.

Freedom From Religion Foundation