Recorded on 10 July 2019 at 18:15
In 2001, Jack Straw became the first senior British government minister to visit Iran since the 1979 revolution and has developed a growing interest in the country ever since. His latest book examines Britain’s extraordinary and tangled relationship with Iran, and why so many Iranians are obsessed with Britain’s role.
Rather as we in the United Kingdom continue to define ourselves by what happened nearly eighty years ago at the start of the Second World War, modern Iranians define themselves by their bloody experience of the Iran–Iraq war of 1980–88, where the country had stood alone against Iraq. The conflict was an act of unprovoked aggression by Saddam Hussein, leader of Iraq. The rest of the world – France, the Soviet Union, later the US and the UK – all piled in to support Iraq, with Saudi Arabia and other Gulf States bankrolling Saddam. It was this experience that has helped define Iran’s view of the world, and its attitudes to both its local rivals for power and those further afield.
In his presentation, Jack Straw shed new light on Britain’s difficult relationship with Iran and explore the culture, psychology and history of this fascinating country.
The Rt Hon Jack Straw is one of three senior Ministers to remain in Cabinet throughout the 1997 to 2010 Labour Government. He served as Foreign Secretary (2001 to 2006), Home Secretary (1997 to 2001), Leader of the Commons (2006 to 2007), and Lord Chancellor and Justice Secretary (2007 to 2010). He was Member of Parliament for Blackburn from 1979 to 7 May 2015, when he retired from the Commons. Before becoming an MP, Jack practiced as a Barrister, and then worked as a Special Adviser in the Labour Government of 1974 to 1979. He served on the Opposition Front Bench from 1980 to 1997. He is a Distinguished Fellow of RUSI and a Visiting Professor at University College London School of Public Policy. Since 2015 he has been Chairman of the Blackburn Youth Zone, and from 2017 a Trustee of the Tauheedul Education Trust. He is a Trustee of the Global Strategy Forum and of the Atlantic Partnership. His other publications include: ‘Last Man Standing: Memoirs of a Political Survivor’ (Macmillan: 2012); Hamlyn Lectures 2012 on Law Reform (CUP).