Jack Straw to step down from front-bench politics
JACK Straw has revealed he plans to step down from front-bench politics for the first time for 30 years — insisting Labour needs ‘a fresh start’.
The Blackburn MP will not be putting himself forward for a shadow cabinet position. Instead he will spend more time on constituency work, writing his memoirs, speaking his mind from the backbenches and improving his DIY skills.
He will formally leave in early October, calling time on a front-bench career that has included wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the invention of the ASBO, and an unbroken 13-year spell in the last Labour cabinet.
And asked if we would be standing at the next General Election, Mr Straw said: “It’s wait and see and that’s genuinely the case”.
Yesterday he said he had been ‘extraordinarily lucky’ as he reflected on his career that started as an opposition Treasury Spokesman in 1980.
He said: “My decision was entirely voluntary. I decided a few months ago, as it seemed we were going into opposition, that I wouldn’t stand.
"The shadow cabinet is about offering a fresh start for a party in opposition to present itself to the electorate and I thought 30 years was getting on for enough.”
In 1987 he was promoted to the shadow cabinet and the role of education spokesman by Neil Kinnock.
But he was demoted to shadow environment secretary after falling out with former leader John Smith over Mr Straw’s proposals to scrap Clause Four of the party’s constitution.
After Labour won a landslide victory in 1997 the Blackburn MP became Home Secretary, and later Foreign Secretary, overseeing the invasion of Iraq.
Before being moved ‘sideways’ to Leader of the House of Commons over what he admitted were ‘very serious sticking points’ with Tony Blair over Iran. After an eventful spell as Justice Secretary Labour crashed out of power in May.
Mr Straw said his memoirs would not be ‘kiss and tell diaries’, criticising Peter Mandelson’s recent book, adding: “I’m going to take a bit of time, and do them differently. I’m afraid I don’t agree to people breaking confidences.”
Labour MPs will vote on how the shadow cabinet is appointed ahead of September’s party conference in Manchester.