Rt Hon Jack Straw is one of three senior Ministers to remain in Cabinet throughout the 1997 to 2010 Labour Governments under Tony Blair and Gordon Brown. He was Foreign Secretary (2001-2006), Home Secretary (1997-2001), Leader of the Commons (2006-7), and Lord Chancellor and Justice Secretary (2007-10). After Labour lost power in 2010, Straw served for six months as Shadow Deputy Prime Minister, and then stood down from the Shadow Cabinet, having served on Labour’s Front Bench for over thirty years.
Straw was a Member of Parliament for Blackburn from 1979 to 2015, when he retired from the Commons. His approach won praise from Margaret Thatcher, who once declared “I would trust Jack Straw’s judgement. He is a very fair man”. Before becoming an MP, Straw practised as a Barrister, and then worked as a Special Adviser in the 1974-79 Labour Government. Appointed Foreign Secretary in 2001, Straw played a leading role in the dramatic foreign policy problems arising from the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York and the resulting interventions in Afghanistan and Iraq. He was instrumental in helping to avoid an extremely dangerous armed conflict between India and Pakistan over Kashmir in 2002.
Jack Straw was a member of the European Council for five years. In 2005 he led successful efforts to open formal EU membership negotiations with Turkey. He is co-Chairman of the government-sponsored British-Turkish Forum. Straw was given the Order of the Republic of Turkey by President Abdullah Gül in 2012. With his French and German counterparts, Jack initiated the “E3” (later “P5+1”) negotiations with Iran over their nuclear programme, and has taken a close interest in Iran ever since, having visited it eight times. In July 2019 he published “The English Job: Understanding Iran, and why it distrusts Britain” (Biteback), which has been very well reviewed: ‘Highly readable, full of vivid history” (Observer); “Essential reading..clear-sighted and lucid” (Sunday Times).
He is a Visiting Professor at University College London School of Public Policy. Since 2015 he has been Chairman of the Blackburn Youth Zone, and from 2017 a Trustee of the Star (Tauheedul) Education Trust, which runs over twenty mainly Muslim state-funded schools. Straw is a Trustee of the Global Strategy Forum, and of the Atlantic Partnership. He is a Distinguished Fellow of the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), and a Bencher of the Inner Temple. He is an adviser to a number of companies. He is Honorary Vice-President of the Blackburn Rovers Football Club.
Jack Straw was appointed by Prime Minister David Cameron as a member of the Independent Commission on Freedom of Information (2015-16), and served as a member of the Archbishops’ Council on the future of Cathedrals. In 2012 he published ‘Last Man Standing: Memoirs of a Political Survivor’ (2012, Macmillan). The Times’ reviewer said that this was a ‘masterclass in the art of government…lucid, engaging, humorous, occasionally self-deprecating, and generally frank’.
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