“Westminster needs cleaning out from the bottom”, he added.
Coun Law-Riding claimed Blackburn had not improved under Labour, while Mr Straw admitted some MPs had been 'on the make' with their expenses, and accepted people were right to feel 'betrayed'.
The audience took turns to ask questions, with topics ranging from facilities for young people - both Coun Law-Riding and Mr Straw claimed the credit for the borough’s free leisure drive - to
controversial new laws on internet piracy.
In response to a question on the Iraq war, Mr Straw, who was foreign secretary at the time of the 2002 invasion, accepted he bore 'a heavy responsibility' and was 'deeply sorry' for people who had
But he added: “I would be accused of all sorts of things if I was seen to be ducking and diving now.”
He also accused Israel of 'preposterous' theft of land in the Palestine dispute.
His opponents attacked him over the Iraq invasion, with Coun Law-Riding claiming it proved former Prime Minister Tony Blair could not be trusted and Mr English calling for troops to be withdrawn
Other topics included mental health care, with all of the panelists calling for a greater understanding of the issue, and the need to restore the link between the state pension and average
earnings, abolished by Margaret Thatcher in 1980, which all parties have pledged to do.
At the end Anjum Anwar, the Cathedral cohesion worker who helped organise the debate, apologised to the audience for the disruption caused by Ms Irfan’s supporters.
She said: “I apologise for the unruly behaviour by my Muslim sister.
"She forgot this was a house of God, and she wouldn’t have raised her voice in a mosque.”
Lancashire Police said uniformed officers were called to the Cathedral at 1.15pm and several protesters, along with two vehicles, were 'moved on'.
One of the vehicles, both of which were towing campaign displays, was an ice cream van.
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