Having studied Jack Straw, from closer or further away, over a period of some years now, I have come to the conclusion that he is a simple careerist who believes in nothing other than personal advancement – and so is perhaps the perfect embodiment of New Labour. There are consistencies in his record – such as his close support of British Aerospace over many years, including at key moments over Hawk jets to Indonesia and the burial of the Saudi bribes investigation. But that relates simply to personal interest and the need to fund that Cotswolds mansion.
It was Straw who oversaw the noxious “Dirty Dossier” on Iraqi Weapons of Mass Destruction and travelled to the Security Council to tell lie after lie, to help precipitate the invasion and cause the deaths of hundreds of thousands. He was centre stage then. But usually, like an impresario, he is behind the stage making things happen.
While I was British Ambassador, I was officially informed in a high level meeting in the FCO on 7 March 2003, that it was Jack Straw who instructed Sir Richard Dearlove, Head of MI6, that in the “War on Terror” we should use intelligence obtained by torture by foreign intelligence agencies. It was Jack Straw who arranged the framework for extraordinary rendition torture flights. And it was Jack Straw who repeatedly lied about both of these to the House Of Commons.
That capacity for duplicity is in full use again now. At least three Labour MPs, with apparent access to all the dark facilities of the Whips’ office, are canvassing their colleagues for Straw to “Quietly” replace Brown as Prime Minister, and are taking care to use the formula: “Of course, Jack doesn’t know anything about this and you mustn’t mention it to him.” That is even more transparent than most of Straw’s lies.
If Brown has any balls, he’ll drop the slimy one in an Autumn reshuffle. But then Brown’s balls have repeatedly been shown to be miniscule, ever since Granita.