Born in Snitter, Straker moved to Widdrington at an early age and began working at the local colliery. He was a Primitive Methodist, known for his teetotalism. He became active in the Northumberland Miners' Association and was elected to its executive in 1882, then became its Corresponding Secretary in 1905. This post was renamed as the General Secretary in 1913, serving until 1935.
Straker had an unusual set of views. He opposed almost all strikes, approving only of the 1912 stoppage. Despite his opposition to militancy, he also opposed the expulsion of communists from the Labour Party, and he strongly opposed World War I, leading some newspapers to campaign for his removal. He was awarded the CBE in 1930.
- National Union of Mineworkers, Northumberland Miners 1919-1939, pp.132-134
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