Jack Straw retired as MP for Blackburn in 2015 having served 36 years – he was Blackburn’s longest serving Member of Parliament.
Jack was elected as the MP for Blackburn in 1979. Prior to being elected to parliament he was a practising barrister and before that was an assistant to Blackburn’s last MP, Barbara Castle. He served on the opposition benches for eighteen years against the governments of Margaret Thatcher and John Major.

 

On Thursday 26th March 2015 Jack Straw made his last ever speech as MP for Blackburn. In this photo we show you his maiden speech, made on the 13th June 1979.
On Thursday 26th March 2015 Jack Straw made his last ever speech as MP for Blackburn. In this photo we show you his maiden speech, made on the 13th June 1979.

Following Labour’s landslide in 1997 he was appointed Home Secretary and has since served as Foreign Secretary (2001 – 2006) and Leader of the House of Commons (2006 – 2007). Jack  served as Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice from 2007 – 2010.  He was the first Lord Chancellor since the seventeenth century not to be a peer.

Despite having held high office for many years Jack continued to be a committed and visible constituency MP, regularly taking questions on all issues standing on his soapbox in the town centre, holding several surgeries a month around the town and running many neighbourhood residents meetings throughout Blackburn.

 

Sylvia Liddle (now Roe Lee ward Councillor) campaigning with Jack Straw on King William Street in the 1980s (courtesy of Lancashire Telegraph
Sylvia Liddle (now Roe Lee ward Councillor) campaigning with Jack Straw on King William Street in the 1980s (courtesy of Lancashire Telegraph

Jack is married with one son and one daughter and two grandchildren. His recreations are walking, music and cooking puddings. He is Honorary Vice President of Blackburn Rovers, holds a season ticket and regularly attends weekend matches with his family.

Jack was famous across the country for holding regular open-air meetings in Blackburn town centre – he was the only MP to do so. These meetings began in 1983 and were great example of direct democracy with any member of the public able to question their MP on any issue.  Much of what Jack  learnt during these meetings  resulted in new Government policies.

Jack Straw open air meeting during the 1980s. Eagle eyed observers will notice that King William Street was in the process of being pedestrianised. Photo courtesy of Lancs Telegraph archive.
Jack Straw open air meeting during the 1980s. Eagle eyed observers will notice that King William Street was in the process of being pedestrianised. Photo courtesy of Lancs Telegraph archive.

In October 2009 BBC Radio 4 came to record a feature on the open-air meetings, posing the the question of whether Jack Straw would “speak up for politics” in the wake of the expenses scandal. For a taste of what the open-air meetings are like, you can listen to that broadcast below.

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