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My haven, Jack Straw, 73, in his home in south London 

by Angus Lanier (2020-07-07)


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Jack Straw, 73, (pictured) shared a selection of items of personal significance in his south London home 

1.

NEVER AGAIN 

This silver salver was given to me in 2000 by the Board of Deputies of British Jews for getting the Holocaust Memorial Day off the ground. It was Tony Blair's idea, but as Home Secretary I implemented it. 

It commemorates those who suffered under Nazi persecution and in subsequent genocides in Cambodia, Darfur, Rwanda and Bosnia. 

It's held on 27 January, the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz.

It has extra poignancy given the failure of the Labour leadership in recent years to deal with anti-Semitism in the party.

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2. FLYING INTO TROUBLE 

In 2000, while Home Secretary, I was woken very early to be told a hijacked plane from Afghanistan, carrying 156 passengers and ten crew, had landed at Stansted Airport. 

Four crew and a few passengers escaped.

Negotiators spoke with the hijackers and three days later the crisis ended, with the release of everyone on board. 

But then it emerged about half the passengers were complicit, wanting to claim UK asylum. This cartoon sending up the incident is among the funniest I have.

3.

RISING STAR 

I've always enjoyed cooking, but I'm particularly good at making soufflés - it's a great politician's dessert because it's full of hot air. 

This copper basin is a vital part of the process because the egg whites react with the metal, which helps stabilise the mixture. 

My soufflés are very popular and, touch wood, I haven't had a failure so far.

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One of my favourites is a spinach soufflé with anchovy sauce; I do a chocolate one too.

Jack treasures this photograph of his late mother Joan (pictured), taken outside the Royal Courts of Justice in 2007

4.

MOTHER'S PRIDE 

Here I am, in my full kit, with my late mother Joan, then aged 86, outside the Royal Courts of Justice in 2007, on the day I was sworn in as Lord Chancellor. 

This was a very proud day for both of us.

I owe almost everything to my extraordinary mother. 

She had five children and essentially brought us up all by herself, as well as working as a teacher at the same time. She was very ambitious for all of us. She died in 2013 and I still miss her terribly.

5.

IN THE CLUB 

Jack Walker, the former owner of Blackburn Rovers FC, presented this rose bowl to me after I became honorary vice president there in 1998. I've been a supporter since I became MP for Blackburn in 1979. 

Jack, who was a very successful businessman in steel, bought the club in 1991 when it was in the old second division. 

He put in a lot of money, hiring Kenny Dalglish as manager, who brought in players like Alan Shearer and Colin Hendry.

Four years later they won the Premiership. 

There was only one other honorary vice president of the club before me - Margaret Thatcher.

6.
WATER AUTHORITY

I've owned some of these tools for more than 50 years because from the age of 13 I worked as a plumber's mate in the school holidays for my uncle, the youngest of my mother's three brothers - all of whom were plumbers. 

I can fix radiators and solder and bend copper pipes, although I wouldn't trust myself to install a boiler. 

When I was visiting Tehran as Foreign Secretary in 2001, I stayed in the British ambassador's residence and I soon noticed something was wrong with the plumbing. 

After the ambassador explained to me how difficult it was to get a plumber out, I fixed it myself.

As told to Angela Wintle.

The English Job: Understanding Iran And Why It Distrusts Britain by Jack Straw (Biteback Publishing) is out in paperback on 11 August, £12.99