Will Straw

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Will Straw
William David John Straw

1980 (age 42–43)
Lambeth, London, England
Alma materNew College, Oxford
Columbia University
Political partyLabour
SpouseClaire Howard

William David John Straw, CBE (born 1980) works in the charitable sector.[1] He worked as a civil servant, founded the political blog Left Foot Forward, was an associate director of the think-tank Institute for Public Policy Research, specialising in climate change, energy and transport,[2] and is currently Chief Operating Officer of Clearly, a charity in the eye care sector.[3]

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 unsuccessfully fought for the United Kingdom to remain a member of the European Union.[4]

Early life and education[edit]

Straw was born in Lambeth, London in 1980. His parents are Alice Perkins and Jack Straw. He attended the comprehensive Pimlico School.[5] 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.[6] The story caused some embarrassment for his father, who was Home Secretary at the time, both for his opposition to legalising cannabis and his stance on parents taking responsibility for the poor behaviour or criminality of their children.

He went to Oxford University where he read Politics, philosophy and economics (PPE)[7] 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.[8] After Oxford, he read for a master's degree in public administration as a Fulbright Scholar at Columbia University.[9]

Policy research and journalism[edit]

Straw worked for four years as an adviser on enterprise and growth issues, in HM Treasury under Gordon Brown.[2] In 2009, he founded the political blog Left Foot Forward,[10] 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.[11]

Political ambitions[edit]

The "Nutters" performing in Bacup at Easter in 2014

In 2004, Straw became governor of Henry Fawcett Primary School in Kennington, which he had attended as a child. He moved to the US in 2007 but his name was not taken off the official register. In 2009, Straw was one of twelve governors removed by Lambeth Council amid concerns over financial management and poor teaching at the school. His retention on the list of governors was criticised at the time and it was suggested he was retained for his "high-profile name".[12]

Straw was the parliamentary candidate for the Labour Party, for the constituency of Rossendale and Darwen in the 2015 general election, the neighbouring constituency to his father’s Blackburn, but lost to the Conservative incumbent Jake Berry.[13] Straw was one of 15 Labour candidates each given financial support of £10,000 by Lord Oakeshott the former Liberal Democrat in January 2015.[14][15]

In April 2014, he posed with a local folk-dancing troupe, the Britannia Coconut Dancers. This generated some controversy, because of their use of blackface makeup, which Straw defended as a traditional custom linked to the coal mining heritage of the area.[16]

Straw has been criticised for being a 'Red Prince', which refers to the son of a Labour politician who goes into politics. New Statesman suggested that this nepotism allows them better access to educational, employment and political opportunities.[17]

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.[18] He was awarded a CBE in outgoing Prime Minister David Cameron's controversial resignation honours in 2016.[19] He stated that he had accepted the award in order to take his wife to Buckingham Palace and "as something to remember the hard work that I and others put into the campaign".[20][21]

Personal life[edit]

Straw lives in Clapham, London. He is married to Claire Straw (née Howard),[22] an American, with whom he has two sons, Matthew, born in 2013, and Samuel, born in 2016.[23][24]


  1. ^ "Skoll | Will Straw". Retrieved 13 July 2020.
  2. ^ a b "Will Straw profile". IPPR. Archived from the original on 20 March 2015. Retrieved 17 January 2015.
  3. ^ "Skoll | Will Straw". Retrieved 13 July 2020.
  4. ^ "Will Straw to help lead all-party campaign to stay in EU". The Guardian. 20 July 2015. Retrieved 6 July 2016.
  5. ^ David, Cohen (19 January 2010). "Will Straw: I'm deeply angry with Blair for taking us to war and for the shoddy way he betrayed my father's loyalty". London Evening Standard. Retrieved 17 January 2015.
  6. ^ Roy, Greenslade (21 March 2005). "The story behind the Straw splash". The Guardian. Retrieved 17 January 2015.
  7. ^ "Baby Labour". 22 April 2009.
  8. ^ Ed Howker (21 February 2004), "Degrees of fame", The Daily Telegraph
  9. ^ "How Will Straw hopes to follow his Labour minister father Jack Straw", The Guardian, 2 September 2013
  10. ^ Rachel Goddard-Rebstein (2 November 2012), "This House Believes That Oxford Admissions are Still Unfair", The Oxford Student
  11. ^ Andrew Chadwick (2013), The Hybrid Media System: Politics and Power, Oxford University Press, pp. 169–172, ISBN 978-0-19-975948-4
  12. ^ "Jack Straw's son: Sacking as school governor traumatic". 3 August 2009.
  13. ^ "Rossendale & Darwen parliamentary constituency – Election 2015 – BBC News". BBC. Retrieved 8 May 2015.
  14. ^ "Former Lib Dem Lord Oakeshott donates £300,000 to Labour candidates". New Statesman. 21 January 2015. Retrieved 1 February 2015.
  15. ^ "Has Will Straw finally found the recipe for political success?". Coffee House. 8 January 2019. Retrieved 28 February 2019.
  16. ^ Matthew Holehouse (21 April 2014), "Racist? No, our black-face dance is a proud tradition", The Sunday Telegraph
  17. ^ McBain, Sophie (26 June 2014), "What Labour's Red Princes tell us about Britain", New Statesman, retrieved 23 October 2014
  18. ^ Robert Colvile (22 December 2015). "Britain Stronger in Europe: A grassroots army gets to work". Retrieved 30 March 2016.
  19. ^ "Resignation Honours". The London Gazette (Supplement). No. 61678. 16 August 2016. p. RH3. C.B.E William STRAW, lately Executive Director of the Stronger In Campaign. For political and public service.
  20. ^ Swinford, Steven (1 November 2016). "Leader of EU remain campaign accepted CBE because he wanted to take his wife to Buckingham Palace". The Telegraph.
  21. ^ "Will Straw CBE Defends Receiving Honour For Running 'Losing' EU Referendum Campaign". consent.yahoo.com. Retrieved 13 July 2020.
  22. ^ "Will Straw: I'm deeply angry with Blair for taking us to war and for the shoddy way he betrayed my father's loyalty". Evening Standard. 19 January 2010.
  23. ^ "Will Straw profile". Labour Party. Archived from the original on 12 April 2015. Retrieved 13 April 2015.
  24. ^ "Blackburn MP Jack Straw becomes grandfather twice in two days". Lancashire Telegraph. 24 September 2013.

External links[edit]