Jack Straw, who was Foreign Secretary when Tony Blair took Britain to war in Iraq, is to leave the Commons at the 2015 general election.
Mr Straw, an MP since 1979, has told his Blackburn Constituency Labour Party that he would be 69 by the election and had decided to stand down because he did not want to “push my luck”.
A former special adviser to the Labour Cabinet minister Barbara Castle, he succeeded her as MP for Blackburn. He called for Labour to abandon its Clause IV commitment to public ownership before Mr Blair adopted the idea on becoming party leader.
Mr Straw was a tough Home Secretary in Mr Blair's first term following his landslide victory in 1997. He became Foreign Secretary in 2001. Although he publicly supported Mr Blair's controversial decision to join the American invasion of Iraq, he was privately sceptical and predicted many of the problems that later arose. He was instrumental in persuading the Prime Minister to secure the backing of the Commons for military action. That set the precedent which forced David Cameron to hold the vote in August on intervention in August, which he lost.
Mr Straw, who later served as Leader of the Commons and Justice Secretary, backed David Miliband in Labour's 2010 leadership election. Last night he said he was in no doubt that Ed Miliband could win the next election, saying he has “the ability, the determination, and the character to take this country to a better, and much fairer place than under this Government.” He said Mr Miliband had “changed the political weather” in the recent party conference speech in which he promised a temporary freeze in energy prices.
But Mr Straw added: “Gaining support at the ballot box is not fundamentally about transactions, but trust; about managing to persuade voters that their values and ours, their hopes and ours, are the same.”