Straw, Jack


Straw, Jack
▪ 2001

      Following his appointment as the U.K.'s home secretary in 1997, British politician Jack Straw proved hard to characterize. Though liberal and reformist in some respects, he was conservative and authoritarian in other ways. Nevertheless, by 2000 he had managed to acquire a reputation for competence that had eluded many of his predecessors.

      Born on Aug. 3, 1946, in Essex, Jack Straw belonged to the generation of 1960s student radical activists and became president of the U.K.'s National Union of Students in 1969. Unlike many of his contemporaries, however, he steered well clear of “alternative” lifestyles; one of his first causes was opposition to the use of all illegal drugs, including cannabis. He trained to be a barrister and then worked as a special adviser to Labour Party cabinet ministers Barbara Castle (1974–76) and Peter Shore (1976–77). After a brief stint as a television researcher, Straw entered Parliament in 1979 as MP for Castle's former seat of Blackburn, Lancashire. He rose steadily through Labour's rank and was elected to the party's opposition shadow cabinet in 1987. During the 1980s he moved from being a traditional left-winger to becoming a more centrist modernizer. He was the first leading member of the Labour Party to propose that it repeal its socialist commitment— Clause Four of the party's constitution—to the state control of industry. In 1994 Straw managed Tony Blair's successful campaign to be elected party leader; one of Blair's first acts on becoming leader was to win the party's agreement to rewrite Clause Four.

      Following Labour's election victory in 1997, Straw was appointed home secretary. He quickly established his progressive credentials by setting up an inquiry into charges of racism in the London police force, promoting the incorporation of the European Convention on Human Rights into British law, and refusing to allow the former Chilean head of state, Gen. Augusto Pinochet Ugarte, to return home following Pinochet's October 1998 arrest in London. (The arrest followed a request by the Spanish government that Pinochet be extradited to Spain to face charges of murder. He was allowed to return to Chile in March 2000 when a panel of doctors advised that he was unfit to face trial.)

      Straw upset many progressives, however, by initiating legislation to withdraw the right of some defendants to be tried by a jury, introducing harsher requirements for people going to Great Britain to seek political asylum, diluting Labour's pre-1997 election promise to establish a freedom of information law, and resisting calls to decriminalize the consumption of “soft” drugs. The drugs issue caused Straw some embarrassment in December 1997 when his own 17-year-old son, William, was arrested in London for selling cannabis. Straw commanded widespread sympathy when it transpired that William had been the victim of entrapment by a newspaper and that as soon as the paper confronted the home secretary with its story, ahead of publication, he took his son to the police to confess what had happened.

Peter Kellner

* * *


Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Jack straw (homme politique) — Jack Straw Nom de naissance John Whitaker Straw …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Jack Straw (homme politique) — Jack Straw Nom de naissance John Whitaker Straw Naissance …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Jack Straw (rebelde) — Para otros usos de este término, véase Jack Straw. Jack Straw (probablemente la misma persona que John Rakestraw o Rackstraw) fue uno de los tres líderes (junto con John Ball y Wat Tyler) de la revuelta campesina de 1381, un acontecimiento… …   Wikipedia Español

  • Jack Brabham — Pour les articles homonymes, voir Jack. Jack Brabham Jack Brabham en 1966 Années d activité 1955 …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Jack Straw — John Whitaker „Jack“ Straw (* 3. August 1946 in Buckhurst Hill, Essex) ist ein britischer Politiker der Labour Party. Von Juni 2007 bis Mai 2010 war er Lordkanzler und Justizminister in der Regierung von Gordon Brown. Straw ist seit 1979… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Jack Straw (homonymie) — Cette page d’homonymie répertorie les différents sujets et articles partageant un même nom. Personnalités John Whitaker Jack Straw (John Whitaker Straw), ancien ministre des affaires étrangères britannique, actuellement président de la chambre… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Jack straw (homonymie) — Cette page d’homonymie répertorie les différents sujets et articles partageant un même nom. Personnalités John Whitaker Jack Straw (John Whitaker Straw), ancien ministre des affaires étrangères britannique, actuellement président de la chambre… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Jack Straw (leader rebelle) — Jack Straw est l’un des trois leaders, avec John Ball et Wat Tyler de la révolte des paysans qui frappe l’Angleterre en 1381. Biographie On connaît peu de choses sur les leaders de la révolte des paysans. Jack Straw aurait peut être été un prêtre …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Jack Straw (disambiguation) — Jack Straw (born 1946), British politicianJack Straw may also be: * Jack Straw (rebel leader) (died 1381), English * Jack Straw (song) * Jack Straw (play) * Jack Straw Foundation, American public radio foundation * Jackstraws, game pick up sticks …   Wikipedia

  • Straw (disambiguation) — Straw may refer to:*Straw *Drinking straw *Soda straw, a mineral *Straw chamber, a particle detector *Straw hat *Straw marquetry *Straw poll *Straw, County Londonderry, a village in Northern IrelandIn entertainment: *Straw (band), a British pop… …   Wikipedia


Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.