Jack Straw tells how a Tory helped determine his future

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The career of former Labour Lord Chancellor Jack Straw might have taken an entirely different path had it not been for the advice of a Conservative.

Offered a job as a special adviser by Baroness Castle of Blackburn while working as a lawyer, he was unsure what to do. “My head of chambers – a member of the Conservative Party – asked me where I wanted to be in 20 years,” Mr Straw told yesterday’s Yorkshire Post Literary Lunch audience at The Cairn Hotel in Harrogate.

“Did I want to be in the British Cabinet or on the High Court benches? I said the Cabinet – he said ‘there’s your answer’.”

Mr Straw’s memoirs, Last Man Standing, offer insights into both his public and private lives.

Also speaking was Gina Campbell, daughter of multiple world speed record-holder Donald Campbell, who died attempting a world water speed record at Coniston in 1967. Having set two women’s world water speed records herself, Daughter of Bluebird is her autobiography.

“On the day my father died I was 17 and working at a hotel in Switzerland,” she recalled. “When I was called to the telephone, I had this sense of foreboding. I knew my father had been suffering great difficulties with Bluebird – I knew something was wrong.”

The third speaker was Frances Fyfield, former recipient of both the Gold and Silver Crime Writers’ Association Dagger Awards.

Her 21st book, Gold Digger, takes a different stance to her previous novels. “I think all crime writers have anti-social and rather criminal tendencies,” she said. “I’ve fulfilled my criminal tendencies by putting myself in the mind of a burglar and making her my heroine.”