John Whitaker “Jack” Straw is a British politician who served as the Member of Parliament for Blackburn from 1979 to 2015 and is a Senior Associate Fellow of the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), and a Visiting Professor at University College London.
Jack Straw served in the Cabinet from 1997 to 2010 under the governments of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown. He held two of the traditional Great Offices of State, as Home Secretary from 1997 to 2001 and Foreign Secretary from 2001 to 2006 under Blair. From 2007 to 2010 he served as Lord Chancellor and the Secretary of State for Justice throughout Brown’s Premiership. Jack is one of only three individuals to have served in Cabinet continuously under the Labour government from 1997 to 2010.
After the Labour Party lost power in May 2010, Jack Straw briefly served as Shadow Deputy Prime Minister and Shadow Justice Secretary, with the intention to stand down from the frontbench after the subsequent 2010 Labour Shadow Cabinet election.
Jack’s first Shadow Cabinet post was as Education spokesman from 1987. In this role he called on central government to allow private Muslim, Sikh, and Hindu schools the same provision for state funding as received by Catholic, Anglican and Jewish schools.
He was appointed Home Secretary after the 1997 general election and brought forward the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000, increased police powers against terrorism winning praise from Margaret Thatcher. At the same time Straw established and then implemented the ground-breaking inquiry into the racist murder of the black teenager Stephen Lawrence – an inquiry which changed for the better the way Black and Asian people in the UK are treated”.
Jack Straw was appointed Foreign Secretary in 2001, succeeding Robin Cook. Within months, Jack was confronted by the 11 September attacks in the United States. In late September 2001, he became the first senior British government minister to visit Iran since the 1979 Revolution.
On 13 October 2005 Jack Straw took questions from a public panel of individuals in a BBC Newsnight television special on the subject of Iraq, addressing widespread public concerns about the exit strategy for British troops, the Iraqi insurgency and, inevitably, the moral legitimacy of the war. On several occasions Jack reiterated his position that the decision to invade was in his opinion the right thing to do, but said he did not ‘know’ for certain that this was the case.
His autobiography “Last Man Standing” was described by the Sunday Times as a “well-told, humane, and entertaining tale of high office.”
Amongst many speech themes Jack talks about Politics, Europe, Security and Brexit. His disarmingly wry light-touch style as well as his formidable intellect and senior operational experience in so many policy areas give him a unique profile. Few active politicians today match his high-level policy insight and breadth. He has a wealth of vivid personal anecdotes and thought-provoking examples of what works in politics – and what does not.
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