From The Australian:
Straw’s sacking insults Britain
Jack Straw was dismissed by the US President, writes William Rees-Mogg
August 08, 2006
WHEN British foreign secretary Jack Straw was replaced by Margaret Beckett in a cabinet reshuffle this year, it seemed almost inexplicable. Straw had been highly competent – experienced, serious, moderate and always well-briefed.
Beckett is embarrassingly inexperienced.
I made inquiries in Washington and was told US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld had taken exception to Straw’s statement that it would be “nuts” to bomb Iran.
The US, it was said, had put pressure on British Prime Minister Tony Blair to change his foreign secretary.
Straw had been fired at the request of the Bush administration, particularly at the behest of the Pentagon.
Not long before he was dismissed, Straw went on a charm tour with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, in which they visited his Blackburn constituency in northern England.
This has been given two explanations.
One was that Rice was hoping to protect Straw against the undiplomatic attack from the Pentagon.
She wanted to keep Rumsfeld’s tanks off her turf.
She had found Straw competent and effective.
If that were so, then Rice lost the battle in the Washington turf war.
The alternative explanation was given more recently by Irwin Stelzer in The Spectator.
He has remarkably good Washington contacts and is probably right.
His account is that Straw was indeed dismissed because of US anxieties, but that Rice herself had become worried, on her visit to Blackburn, by Straw’s dependence on Muslim votes.
About 20 per cent of the voters in Blackburn are Islamic.
Straw was dumped only four weeks after Rice’s visit.
Even ex Blairite MP Oona King now attacks Blairism.
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