FORMER Blackburn MP Jack Straw always had an unusual and very direct way of engaging with his constituents.

He would take his soapbox - literally a wooden box - and stand outside Marks and Spencer in King William Street, Blackburn, inviting questions.

There would be a mix of vocal critics, Labour diehards and intrigued shoppers who would stop to take part in the debate or merely to observe the spectacle.

Here he is in 2010, but one soapbox session in the midst of the Iraq crisis in 2003 was particularly memorable.

That week the then Foreign Secretary had been over to New York to meet United Nations Secretary General Kofi Anaan and weapons inspector Hans Blix, carried out Parliamentary duties and given a big speech to the Security Council.

But his engagement on Saturday was with the people of Blackburn.