John Whitaker (‘Jack’) Straw

(b. 1946)

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(b. Buckhurst Hill, Essex, 3 Aug. 1946)

British; Home Secretary 1997–2001, Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs 2001–6, Secretary of State for Justice and Lord Chancellor 2007–  Jack Straw was eleven when his father abandoned his mother and her five children, who were living on an Essex council estate. Jack attended a direct-grant school and then read law at Leeds University. Having been active in Leeds University Students' Union, Straw became National President of the NUS in 1969. He was called to the Bar in 1972 and worked in criminal law until 1974, while acting as a member of the Inner London Education Authority. He was a special adviser to the Labour cabinet members Barbara Castle 1974–6, and Peter Shore 1976–7. He entered parliament for Castle's former constituency of Blackburn in 1979 and served as a Labour spokesman throughout most of the party's years in opposition, during which time he moved from the left wing of the party to a more centrist, modernizing stance. Straw managed Tony Blair's successful leadership campaign in 1994 and entered Blair's cabinet following the 1997 election win as Home Secretary. In this post, Straw was accused by some of taking a more hard-line approach on crime than his Conservative predecessors. During his time as Foreign Secretary, Britain and the USA controversially invaded Iraq. Despite Straw's good working relationship with Condoleezza Rice, the US Secretary of State, Blair moved Straw from the Foreign Office in 2006, making him Leader of the House, but when Gordon Brown became Prime Minister in 2007, Straw regained a higher profile, becoming Lord High Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice.

Subjects: Politics.

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