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Jack Straw is “mortified” to have been caught but completely lacking in remorse

jack-strawA couple of terms in student politics after Uni, local councillor before that was even over, another couple of years doing something outside politics, candidate in an unwinnable seat, few years as a SpAd, couple of years in the media and then into parliament. He was a model for so many New Labour wannabes to come. But in spite of 36 years as an MP, and having held some of the most senior offices in the land (and ironically the highest in the justice system), there’s nothing right honourable left about Mr Jack Straw.

Mr Straw said this morning he was “mortified” that he had fallen for the Channel 4 sting:

I’m mortified by the fact that I fell into this trap set by very skillful journalists from Channel 4.

He is “mortified”, in other words, that he has been caught though he still sees nothing wrong in what he has done. He admits and indeed declared on the register of MPs’ interests that he was a consultant to ED&F Man, a British firm which owns a sugar refinery in the Mykolaiv region of southern Ukraine, for whom he says that he worked “under the radar” and used “charm and menace” to influence the then Ukranian PM.

He told undercover reporters that Ukraine was seeking an association agreement with the European Union which would place the country on the path to full membership.

So … I said to them, this was going to cause them lots of trouble with in Brussels if they were screwing other EU countries.”

ED&F Man also wanted EU rules changed so that a sugar beet crop itself, rather than raw beet sugar, was named as the “equivalent” to raw cane sugar.

To cut another very, very long story short, and as I say, [Mr Straw’s parliamentary aide] did a lot of help, work on this too, I got into see the relevant director general and his officials in Brussels … and we got the sugar regulations changed.”

He says “all of this has been undertaken fully in accordance with the MPs’ Code of Conduct” and he told the Today programme this morning that he thought those rules “are probably satisfactory“. He sees nothing wrong in what he has done, though he also thinks:

The best way of dealing with these things is under the radar.”

Quite so. And then we come to what he promised to do in the future. This morning he says he was talking with the undercover team about work he might do after leaving parliament, not while he was serving as an MP, as if that makes it alright. And yet it is quite clear that he also expected at the time he was talking to the undercover reporters that he was going to be appointed to the House of Lords.

Ed Miliband has this morning written to David Cameron, making clear that he intends to ban MPs from holding paid directorships or consultancies after the next election if he wins and prompting him to accept such a prohibition. This is very welcome, though many would also want to prevent MPs using any influence they gain as MPs and Ministers even after they cease to be MPs.

In any case, whether or not what Jack Straw has done is a technical breach of parliamentary rules, it is consistent neither with a proper commitment to public service nor with Labour values.

He does however enjoy the backing of Tony Blair who said this morning:

I have known Jack for over 30 years. He is a byword for being a hard-working constituency MP and parliamentarian.

I can think of no-one who has more dedicated himself to public service.

I am really sorry he has been caught up in a sting operation about a job offer after he retires from Parliament.

It is typical of Jack that as soon as he was alerted of the sting against him he immediately contacted the parliamentary commissioner for standards and asked her to investigate the case. I hope that the commissioner will clear his name as soon as possible.

Blairite values really are different from Labour values.

12 Comments

  1. Jeffery Davies says:

    Hum its called being a rogue but these people need to be shown that whot they do is wrong locked up key thrown away

    1. Robert says:

      That is the problem it’s within the rules unless he has already been paid and not fill in the register. but still only a misdemeanour’s.

      But we will see.

  2. Rod says:

    Jon: “Ed Miliband has this morning written to David Cameron, making clear that he intends to ban MPs from holding paid directorships or consultancies after the next election if he wins”

    In his letter to Cameron Miliband writes:

    “My party is also consulting on legislation to make this a statutory ban”

    Of course, Miliband refers only to MPs (not ex-MPs as peers) and only offers ‘consultation’ on a statutory ban. This means very much less than one may like to assume.

    Indeed, in due course Straw will be elevated to the House of Lords. Once there he’ll no doubt continue to rake it in as an “under the radar” operator on behalf those who can afford him.

  3. James Martin says:

    Well in the absence of getting the old warmonger to The Hague this will have to do for now. The most shocking thing about this scandal is that Straw apparently charges £5,000 a day for his ‘services’. I wouldn’t pay him 5p myself…

    1. Robert says:

      Half a day it’s £10,000 for a full day.

  4. John reid says:

    Unlike two of his successors as Home sec, Blunkett and Reid, Straw was only a trot at university, where to quote Tony Benn ,how easy it was for some Stalinist to transfer too being Blairites

    1. Rod says:

      “how easy it was for some Stalinist to transfer too being Blairites”

      Indeed.

      I suspect it is Labour’s authoritarianism and top-down bollox that allows ex-Trots to feel at home in the both the Labour Party and the Progress Tendency.

      If they didn’t have a fondness for non-democratic policy-making and all-powerful leaderships they wouldn’t have become Trots in the first place.

      1. Robert says:

        trots tell me who are the trots within labour, I think your idea of the hard left and trots put you somewhere on the Tory side of politics.

        As for John he was total New labour Blair could do no wrong now he’s a Miliband lad, seems it easy to change sides.

        1. Rod says:

          Here’s a few familiar ex-Trots and ex-Marxists the New Labour stable:

          Mandelson was once a member of the Young Communist League.

          Alistair Darling was a member of the International Marxist Group.

          Alan Johnson said “I did consider myself to be a Marxist.”

          John Reid was a member of the Communist Party and reportedly described himself as “a Leninist and a Stalinist.”

        2. John reid says:

          Not really, I obly ever disagreed with Blair on 3 things 90 day detention, the abolition of double jeopardy, and Iraq
          As for Ed Miliband, apart from his strategy,I’ve only disagreed with about 10 things labour has abstained in,when the Tories proposed them,Legal aid,and social security cuts,and other things that have become labour policy, Harmans view that rape defendants,not only shouldn’t be given anonymity, but that the law should be changed to guilty till proven innocent,

  5. David Pavett says:

    Nothing is more boring on the left than arguments about who was or wasn’t a “Stalinist” or a “Trotskyist”. Who, outside of a minuscule minority of lefties nostalgic for their early days of political head-banging, gives a toss.

    The simple fact is that Straw is a self-important, moralising disingenuous creep who sees nothing wrong in what he has done or the damage it has caused UK politics. There are plenty more like him.

  6. J.P. Craig-Weston says:

    The simple fact is that Straw is a self-important, moralising disingenuous creep who sees nothing wrong in what he has done or the damage it has caused UK politics. There are plenty more like him.

    I couldn’t have put it better.

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