Labour MP Jack Straw visits Portsmouth school

Rt Hon Jack Straw MP with staff and pupils at St John's College, Southsea.' 'Picture: Allan Hutchings (141844-624)
Rt Hon Jack Straw MP with staff and pupils at St John's College, Southsea.' 'Picture: Allan Hutchings (141844-624)

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PUPILS had the chance to meet and grill a former home secretary at a school in the city.

Veteran MP Jack Straw, who served under Tony Blair’s Labour government, was at St John’s College in Southsea.

Dozens of pupils in the politics society and other members packed into a room to hear him.

Roy McBain, 18, a Year 13 boarding pupil at St John’s, chaired the meeting at the college yesterday.

He said: ‘It’s pretty important to have interest in politics.

‘I find Jack Straw quite interesting – about the Iraq situation at the moment and his role.

‘It’s good to have him here with the crisis coming up again.’

Mr Straw was a member of Tony Blair’s shadow cabinet before he was made home secretary in 1997 when Labour won a landslide at the election.

He was then made foreign secretary in 2001 and was leader of the House of Commons from 2006 to 2007.

His last role in government was Lord Chancellor and secretary of state for justice between 2007 and 2010 under Gordon Brown.

Pupils at the school seized the chance to quiz him on his political life and ask about his 2012 autobiography Last Man Standing: Memoirs of a Political Survivor.

Mr Straw told The News: ‘I feel I owe it to students to do so (talk to them) because my own interest in politics was partly generated by visiting politicians decades ago when I was in sixth form.

‘I really think politics matters, although politicians have a poor reputation at the moment... British politics is pretty healthy.’

Gemma Wardle was among those eager to hear from Mr Straw.

The 17-year-old said: ‘In the past couple of years politics has grown in my interest.

‘I think it’s really important to meet politicians.

‘It’s a very changing world –it keeps you up to date with what’s going on.

‘I’ll be able to vote in the 2015 election.’

Mr Straw’s visit was the latest in a long line of top politicians to visit the school. The night was organised by Dr Graham Goodlad, head of politics. The society is open to the public.