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Last Updated: Friday, 7 December 2007, 17:36 GMT
Students vote to reinstate Straw
Jack Straw as a student
Mr Straw was Leeds union and NUS president in his youth
Leeds University students have voted to restore the honorary union membership of one of their most famous alumni - Justice Secretary Jack Straw.

He was union president in 1967, but his name was removed from the presidents' board in 2000, by students who opposed his policies as home secretary.

This week the union voted to reinstate him, saying students should not attempt to re-write history.

A spokesman for Mr Straw said he was "very pleased" at the result.

The spokesman added: "He has a strong attachment to the city and the university and remembers his days there with great fondness.

"The original vote wasn't the end of the world - that's life in a democracy - but he's happy that the students have now reversed it, and grateful for their support."

'Curtailing liberties'

Mr Straw was president of Leeds students' union from 1967-8, and of the National Union of Students from 1969-71.

But the Leeds students of 2000 were less impressed by Mr Straw - and in particular his policies on asylum seekers and trial by jury, which they attacked for "curtailing civil liberties".

It was controversial a number of years ago when he was banned from the building
Neil Mackenzie
Leeds University union

A ban on the Blackburn MP entering the university's student union building lapsed after three years, but his lifetime membership of the union was revoked.

His name was also scratched off the presidents' board, although the union's communications officer Neil Mackenzie said that was more down to "political vandalism" than an official ruling.

He said the motion to restore Mr Straw's membership, and put his name back on the board was put forward by the student Labour Club - but the original vote had always been a talking point.

"Jack Straw is probably our most famous former president and it was controversial a number of years ago when he was banned from the building," said Mr Mackenzie.

He said people had spoken for and against the motion, but the debate had been "very civil" and the final vote had been about 1,200 for reinstating Mr Straw's membership, to about 400 against.

"There were strong feelings on both sides - the people who support him ran a better campaign this time," he said.

The motion read: "This union believes that, whatever views individual members may hold regarding former officers of the union, we should not hide, or attempt to erase, their place in the organisation's history."

It was followed by a vote on whether the union shop should increase the range of 99p sandwiches.

Profile: Jack Straw
14 Sep 06 |  UK Politics

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