Jack Straw waves goodbye with civil liberty attack

Straw: Greater freedom for the criminal, less liberty for the law abiding
Straw: Greater freedom for the criminal, less liberty for the law abiding

By Ian Dunt

Jack Straw has waved goodbye to a decades-long career on the front bench of British politics today, with a final keynote speech to conference lambasting the coalition.

The political survivor, who sat in Cabinet for the duration of New Labour's time in power, dedicated much of the speech to attacking the coalition's civil liberties agenda and insisting that Labour sticks to the middle ground.

"Our great legacy on equal rights and public safety is at risk," he said.

"The Liberal Democrats have conspired to put the Human Rights Act under review. The Conservatives, meanwhile, are going to cut the use of DNA technology and CCTV, and restrict the ability of the police and local communities to fight the scourge of anti-social behaviour. And who will benefit from this madness?

"There'll be greater freedom for the criminal, less liberty for the law abiding. It's crazy," he added.

"The coalition agreement represents the worst of both parties. You've got Conservative ministers implementing the most dangerous of the Liberals' policies on crime, while Liberal ministers are complicit in rushing to implement savage Conservative cuts."

He also urghed Labour to stick to the middle ground.

"As Ed Miliband has said, the crucial thing is that we listen and stay connected to maintain the confidence of the vast majority of the British people," Mr Straw said.

"This is not about selling out, or any of that nonsense. It's about listening, listening carefully - and putting our timeless values into ways which protect and benefit people as their lives - and their circumstances - change."

Mr Straw, who acted as home secretary, foreign secretary and justice secretary during his time in office, announced well before the leadership result that he would be stepping down from the front bench.


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