True Supporters of Blackburn Rovers
Tribute . Recognition . History
Chapter 4: Early Life in Politics
Author: Jack Straw Date: May 2010
I often get asked about what drew me into politics. Well I came from a highly political family. Both of my parents were pacifists, which is probably the only thing that they ever agreed on, my father was a conscientious objector during the Second World War. My father left my mother, and she bought the 5 of us up in a council maisonette. But her father was a big active trade unionist, in what is now called the Unite Union and he was a huge ally of Ernie Bevin, so I was aware of politics from a young age. From the age of 8 I would go out and deliver leaflets and take numbers a polling stations for my grandfather, if you didn’t do all of this you didn’t get your tea! This was all done on a council estate in Essex, which was then and still is largely a Tory area, so it was difficult politically and I learnt some lessons.
There also has been this idea that I was a radicalist and being a violent revolutionary on the left when I was a youngster which is wrong. When I was the president of the National Union of Students I spent a lot of my time fighting the violent revolutionary and the Trotskyist left. I came from a rather traditional left of the Labour Party, which was more Communist, who were very influential on the left of the Labour Party. So traditional that I wore a tie for the majority of my 3 years at university because thats what people did and if you turned up to lectures without a tie you were then chucked out. When I was voted in to be the President of the National Union of Students, and defeated the so called ‘Right Wing’ candidates who were right of the Labour Party but left of the Conservative Party, I vowed to make the National Union of Students respected but not respectful.
There are these myths that occur over the years that you change where you come from politically and you have abandoned your past, but I hope that people who know me now and knew me that would see that I hadn’t changed but that over 40 years by views on certain things have changed. I remember when Tariq Ali, who was an influential Trotsky Socialist, wrote a tiered with one of his mates that I was the students Harold Wilson. So at the time people were not seeing me as a violent revolutionary because I wasn’t.