A Straw Man

I never liked Jack Straw, who along with another ex-British Foreign Secretary has been “stung” by the Daily Telegraph. Straw is standing down as a Member of Parliament and is looking for a new career. Meeting fake lobbyists (undercover reporters) he tells them he will make speeches….he gets £5,000 a speech. Thats considerably more than minimum wage levels and echoes the post-Parliament career of his former boss, Tony B Liar.

Of course it was a double sting. Patrician Tory grandee, Malcolm Rifkind, tells the undercover reporters that he is “self employed”.

But I am not really bothered by Malcolm Rifkind. He is a Conservative. I expect nothing from them.

Labour politicians…well I expect something. Of course Jack Straw was up to his neck in deceiving the British public over the Iraq War. Yet there is something uncomfortably careerist about Jack Straw. He first appeared on the News in early 1970s as a student firebrand.

Then disappeared from public view until he succeeded Barbara Castle as Labour MP for Blackburn. It was unlikely on two levels ….Blackburn is “grim up north”, Coronation Street territory and Straw is an Essex Boy. Also, the firebrand had settled. How did the good folks in the Blackburn Labour Party select him? Well, I daresay Barbara Castle helped. Straw worked for her as a Special Advisor.

Since becoming MP for Blackburn, Straw has re-invented himself as a gritty northerner. His “beloved” Blackburn Rovers often gets mentioned. I wonder if he owns a whippet.

But Jack Straw made it all the way to the British Cabinet table. As Home Secretary AND Foreign Secretary. The journey from Student Leader to Establishment was complete…except of course “firebrands” rarely become Home Secretary or Foreign Secretary. MI5 and MI6 have files. Safe to assume Straw passed the vetting.

So Jack Straw…it would have been bad enough if his legacy was Iraq. But appearing on a hidden camera talking about his lobbyinbg skills is appropriate.

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6 Responses to A Straw Man

  1. Straw always reminded me of a more serious – or sinister – version of the itinerent politician Lembit Öpik. A careerist politico with no real ideology or beliefs beyond getting to the top of his chosen “profession”. Good timing on the Torygraph’s behalf though given all the controversy over its own internal troubles. I wonder was this story in the back pocket for a while?

    • The reluctance of the Torygraph to fearlessly delve into HSBC does weaken the case they have made against Straw and Rifkind.
      But its no longer a Torygraph story.
      Its out there now for all to pick over.
      But the Daily Telegraph agenda of Pro Banker and Anti Politician (Expenses scandal) is interesting and might not play well with lifelong Tory readers.
      The fact that the Telegraph broke the “expenses” scandal….seemed to annoy Westminster Lobby journos. They knew and accepted this for years. The last thing they needed was crusading journos poking their noses around Westminster.
      There is an excellent series by Michael Cockrell which is putting a human face on life in Parliament. Even an old cynic like me could get occasionally impressed.
      But I dont think the Straw-Rifkind thing going to the Standards Committee is in itself important. The findings, whatever they are, wont be known for months and the omportant thing is that one or both are suspended from the Commons and wont hear the glowing tributes made to retiring MPs.
      However successful their careers have been, they end their careers in shame.

  2. hoboroad says:

    Malcolm Rifkind believes he is entitled to a lot more than a MP’s salary of 67,000 pounds a year. Mr Straw’s son is a Labour candidate in the upcoming general election so that’s another snout in the trough.

  3. hoboroad says:

    Yeah I think so. And you know what makes me laugh? The Brits will cry nepotism when it’s Bush V Clinton in 2016.

    • Well they would say theres “good” nepotism and “bad” nepotism. For example the Foot family would be genuine heroes or the Benns….Tonys father, Tonys son.
      It is legitimate enough that early Labourites were middle class and even aristocratic and have a record of “service”.
      New Labour….Straw and son, Bliar and son, and maybe Kinnock and son ….is that genuine service to a cause or just a family business and a sense of entitlement.
      With Jack Straws name now in the gutter, it will be interesting to see how William Straw does in the next door constituency. His father is now an issue.
      But is t it odd that we can identify more with the semi aristocratic Benns than the (once) working class Straws or Prescotts.
      I would have given Bliar the benefit of the doubt prior to 2001…public schoolboy, Liverpool wife…young barristers standing in no hope Home Counties constituencies like Beaconsfield before landing a safe Labour seat in North Esst.
      We could say same for Miliband brothers in Doncaster and South Shields.
      Bliar became a Newcstle supporter but it was surely only a part he was playing. It cant have been genuine.
      The nepotism….or political dynasties….Blair, Harman-Dromey, Straw, Benn, Kinnock, Prescott, Miliband (hmmm all Labour!!!). Is it family service or family business?
      And now compounded by a husband and wife (Balls and Cooper) maybe heading for top Four cabinet posts.
      Should a wife or husband hold back on ambition or career ccos it doesnt play well with the public.
      There is I think a real split in Labour around the issue of dynasty or the parachuting of Special Advisors. Local parties (eg Blackburn) seem more pro-active in getting a local councillor nominated rather than yet another refugee from Islington.

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