|Born||1980 (age 37–38)
Lambeth, London, England
|Alma mater||New College, Oxford
William David John Straw CBE (born 1980) is a British policy researcher and Labour Party politician. He worked as a civil servant, founded the political blog Left Foot Forward and is currently an associate director of the think-tank Institute for Public Policy Research, specialising in climate change, energy and transport.
In the lead up to 2016's referendum on European Union membership, he was the executive director of Britain Stronger in Europe, the all party umbrella organisation that fought for the United Kingdom to remain a member of the European Union.
Early life and education
Straw was born in Lambeth in 1980. His parents are Alice Perkins and Jack Straw. He attended the comprehensive Pimlico School. In January 1998, aged 17, he was caught trying to sell £10 of cannabis, after a friend was paid £2,000 by the Daily Mirror to introduce him to an undercover reporter posing as an acquaintance. The story caused some embarrassment for his father, who was Home Secretary at the time.
He went to Oxford University where he read Politics, Philosophy and Economics (PPE) and was elected President of the Junior Common Room of New College and the Oxford University Student Union in 2001. In 2001, he and several other OUSU campaigners protested against tuition fees on the steps of Oxford's Bodleian Library by throwing off most of their clothes to reveal gold-painted torsos. After Oxford, he read for a master's degree in public administration as a Fulbright Scholar at Columbia University.
Policy research and journalism
Straw worked for a year as a senior policy adviser on enterprise and growth issues, in HM Treasury under Gordon Brown. In 2009, he founded the political blog Left Foot Forward, which was set up professionally as a counter to right wing media in the United Kingdom, and was sponsored by a variety of individuals and institutions, including Peter Kellner, Patrick Carter and the unions Connect and Unite.
The blog grew to have about forty writers; Straw left it in 2010 to join the Institute for Public Policy Research. In 2009, he was one of twelve governors removed by Lambeth Council amid concerns over financial management and poor teaching at Henry Fawcett Primary School in Kennington.
Straw was the parliamentary candidate for the Labour Party, for the constituency of Rossendale and Darwen in the 2015 general election, but lost to the Conservative incumbent Jake Berry. Straw was one of 15 Labour candidates each given financial support of £10,000 by Lord Matthew Oakeshott the former Liberal Democrat in January 2015.
In April 2014, he posed with a local folk-dancing troupe, the Britannia Coco-nut Dancers. This generated some controversy, because of their use of black-face makeup, which Straw defended as a traditional custom.
Along with Euan Blair (son of former British prime minister Tony Blair), Stephen Kinnock (son of former Labour Leader Neil Kinnock) and Joe Dromey (son of Labour MPs Harriet Harman & Jack Dromey), Straw has been criticised for being a 'Red Prince', a term popularised by the political blogger Guido Fawkes, which refers to the son of a Labour politician who goes into politics.
Straw was the executive director of Britain Stronger in Europe, the group that campaigned for the United Kingdom to remain in the European Union, ahead of the 2016 Referendum., which ultimately went on to lose the referendum.
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- Andrew Chadwick (2013), The Hybrid Media System: Politics and Power, Oxford University Press, pp. 169–172, ISBN 978-0-19-975948-4
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- "Statement of Persons Nominated". Rossendale Borough Council. Archived from the original on 13 April 2015. Retrieved 13 April 2015.
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- Will Straw – profile at IPPR