FORMER Labour MP Jack Straw is due to be given the ‘freedom’ of the borough of Blackburn with Darwen next week.

The honour to the 69-year-old, who stood down from Westminster before May’s General Election, is set to be confirmed by the borough’s full council forum on Thursday.


The ex-Cabinet minister will be the first person to receive the town’s highest ceremonial honour since 1992.

The award dates back to the Middle Ages and ‘freemen’ are often invited to take part in important ceremonial occasions.

Mr Straw said: “I am really delighted to be given this award and deeply touched. I am especially pleased it is being made with all-party support.”

Mr Straw was MP for Blackburn for more than 36 years, between 1979 and 2015, making him the longest serving in the town’s history.

He held high-profile national positions, including Home Secretary, Foreign Secretary, Lord Chancellor and Leader of the Commons but remained a familiar sight in the town during his ‘soap box’ sessions.

This proposal recognises this and his continued commitment to the borough, including chairing its Youth Zone and as a governor at Blackburn’s College Centre. There will also be a civic dinner for Mr Straw at King George’s Hall on the evening of Saturday, November 7.

Essex-born Mr Straw’s term exceeded previous longest-serving MP, Barbara Castle, by two years and became Labour’s joint-longest serving Cabinet Minister with Gordon Brown and Alastair Darling.

Borough leader Mohammed Khan said: “Jack has been a big hitter in politics for many years but he has also been a massive figure for Blackburn.

“He has held prestigious roles in government but this honour is bestowed on him for his tireless work he has done for Blackburn.

“As an MP, he has always stood up for the people of Blackburn and has been an excellent advocate for this town .”

Council Tory group leader Mike Lee said: “Our politics may have differed but he has represented the town well on the national and international stage.

“I think this honour is well deserved for someone who has been synonymous with Blackburn for the last 30 plus years.”