“Quite a lot of people are angry about Iraq” in Blackburn, admits Straw

Daily Telegraph – Troops to start leaving Iraq next year: British and American troops will be withdrawn steadily from Iraq starting next year and are likely to be completely out of the country within five years, Jack Straw, the Foreign Secretary, said yesterday… Mr Straw may be seeking to assuage anti-war sentiment in Britain, particularly in his Blackburn constituency, which has a sizeable Muslim population. He admitted that “quite a lot of people are angry about Iraq” in Blackburn but hoped his constituents would recognise his efforts to avert a looming war between India and Pakistan in 2002. Among those running against Mr Straw is Craig Murray, a controversial former British ambassador to Uzbekistan who fell out with the Foreign Office over his criticism of the Central Asian republic’s human rights record.

Meanwhile, several of today’s papers comment on Straw’s relegation to the back row of “also rans” and junior ministers at Labour’s manifesto launch. Is Jack becoming an election liability?