Jack Straw: 'Soufflés are the classic politician's dish, as they're full of hot air'


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The Independent Online

To be a survivor in British politics, you have to love it Because there are plenty of times when you'll think to yourself, "There must be a better way of earning a living than bashing your head against a brick wall."

It's important to take responsibility I remember Sir Patrick Mayhew [former Northern Ireland secretary] telling me in 1995, "Dear boy, whenever you find yourself in the detritus, and you will, just put your effing paws up! Don't argue, apologise." It was fantastic advice. Andrew Mitchell would have been wise to follow it.

I enjoy being on the public stage It can be exciting, exhilarating and terrifying from time to time.

My morning cup of coffee gets me through the day But it's a matter of matrimonial dispute because I make the coffee in our house and my wife claims you could stand a spoon in it.

I'm happy most of the time Notwithstanding my intense period of being fed up 30 years ago, I'm a pretty cheerful guy. I'm happiest when I'm en famille. My children are now married and grown up but when we all get together it's wonderful.

Being praised by Margaret thatcher was certainly different I thought she was very generous in what she said [she complimented Straw's increased police powers against terrorism in 2000] given that when she was prime minister I said some not entirely complimentary things about her. But that's politics.

I love cooking because you have to totally immerse yourself I'm very good at soufflés. They're the classic politician's dish because they won't work unless they're full of hot air. They also require attention to detail and a strong nerve, and if you have both they'll work every time.

Hopefully I'll be remembered as a decent guy who made a difference But I have no idea if it will happen. You can't get through life having everyone appreciate you all of the time. You could get through life with no one ever noticing you, but that'd be no fun. That's not the role I've ever sought.

I can't stand dirty shoes Myself, Tony Blair and Neil Kinnock all have a clean-shoes fetish. I polish my shoes every morning.

I'd be a good plumber's mate I've got a tool box and I can solder a joint. I mean a joint in a central-heating system, not the other kind of joint.

Nothing beats the joy of Blackburn Rovers doing well I remember being at Anfield in May 1995 with my children when Blackburn lost to Liverpool but won the Premiership. That was a wonderful moment of shared excitement. We were walking on air.

Jack Straw, 66, is the Shadow Deputy Prime Minister. His book, 'Last Man Standing: Memoirs of a Political Survivor', is out now (Macmillan, £20)