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Q & A with Jack Straw
SAT over a coffee in his town centre flat, local government reporter Bill Jacobs asked Mr Straw 12 key questions.
1. What was your greatest political achievement?
“The single one I’d select is establishing the Macpherson inquiry into the Stephen Lawrence murder. I changed the place of black and Asian people in our society and led to his killers being jailed.”
2. What was your worst personal moment?
“The death of our six-year-old baby daughter Rachel through my first marriage. I think about her every day. It was devastating.”
3. What was your biggest political failure?
“Making a mess of a Commons debate against Home Secretary Michael Howard in October 1995 about prisons chief Derek Lewis. I was badly briefed. I made sure I never was again.”
4. Knowing what you do now, would you still back the Iraq war?
“If we had known then what we know now, there would have been no basis for war but we did not know then what we know now, so I stand by my decision at the time.”
5. What was the best piece of advice Lady Castle gave you?
“I think it was be true to yourself and be yourself. It’s important to use your own language to express your ideas.”
6. What piece of political advice would you give Will?
“Be true to yourself and be yourself. People run a mile from politicians that they think are false.”
7. What has being Blackburn's MP meant for you?
“The people of the town are fantastic people and though them the town has entered my soul. It has kept me grounded during my political career.”
8. What would you like to be your political epitaph?
“That despite holding a number of high offices in national and international politics, I still managed to do a proper job for my constituents in Blackburn.”
9. Why did you never run for Labour leader/Prime Minister?
“The opportunity to do so was never quite there. I guess I never wanted it enough and there were always people who wanted it more than I did.”
10. What is your ambition for Blackburn over the next 20 years?
“It is to continue to grow the university campus because the key to the town’s future is to widen its intellectual base so it can build a new prosperity in the town.”
11. What is your parting message to the people of Blackburn?
“That I am not going. I will continue to be its MP for 18 months but I am going to keep my house here and continue to do my best for a town that has been very good to me.”
12. Should the next MP for Blackburn be of Asian heritage?
“It should be the best person for the job. The colour of their skin or their gender is no more important than the colour of their hair as long as they do the best possible job for the constituency.”
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