Mark Fisher (politician)
|The Right Honourable
|Minister for the Arts|
2 May 1997 – 14 June 1998
|Prime Minister||Tony Blair|
|Preceded by||Virginia Bottomley|
|Succeeded by||Alan Howarth|
|Member of Parliament
for Stoke-on-Trent Central
9 June 1983 – 6 May 2010
|Preceded by||Robert Cant|
|Succeeded by||Tristram Hunt|
29 October 1944 |
Woking, Surrey, England
|Spouse(s)||Ingrid Geach Hunt (1975–99)|
|Relations||Sir Nigel Fisher (father)|
|Children||4 inc. Crispin Hunt, India Fisher, Francesca Hunt.|
|Alma mater||Trinity College, Cambridge|
|Occupation||Politician, author, film producer, school principal, and screenwriter|
Mark Fisher (born 29 October 1944) is a British Labour Party politician. He was the Member of Parliament (MP) for Stoke-on-Trent Central from 1983 to 2010 and Minister for the Arts between 1997 and 1998.
Mark Fisher is the son of Sir Nigel Fisher, the former Conservative MP for Surbiton and Lady Gloria Vaughan, daughter of the 7th Earl of Lisburne. He is the stepson of Ulster Unionist MP Patricia Ford, and thus the brother-in-law of Conservative MP Sir Michael Grylls and uncle of explorer Bear Grylls.
After the retirement of Tam Dalyell in 2005, Fisher became the only Labour MP to have been educated at Eton College. He read English Literature at Trinity College, Cambridge. After completing his education in 1966, he became a film producer and screenwriter, but in 1975 Fisher became the principal of the Tattenhall Centre of Education in Cheshire, where he remained until his election to Westminster.
Before leaving university, Fisher had numerous low-paying jobs, including: working in a Cyril Lord carpet factory in Northern Ireland, as a waiter, as a kitchen porter, as a caddy on a golf course, insulating roofs, on a travelling fairground and as a folk singer and guitarist.
His film work consisted of writing screenplays for Harry Saltzman and two stage plays: in 1974 for the new Arts Council Horseshoe Theatre in Basingstoke and, in 1988, for the Theatre Upstairs, at the Royal Court in London.
Fisher unsuccessfully contested Leek at the 1979 general election but was defeated by David Knox by 10,571 votes. He was elected as a councillor to the Staffordshire County Council in 1981 and remained a councillor until he stood down in 1985.
In parliament, Fisher served on the Treasury Select Committee for three years from 1983. In 1985 he was appointed as an Opposition Whip by Neil Kinnock for a year in 1985. Following the 1987 General Election he became the opposition spokesman on arts and media and following the 1992 general election he became the spokesman on the Citizen's Charter, a year later in 1993, however, he was back as a spokesman at the newly named Department for National Heritage. In 1992 he introduced the "Right to Know Bill", a Private member's bill, which, though unsuccessful, became the forerunner of the Freedom of Information Bill.
After the Labour victory at the 1997 general Election, new prime minister Tony Blair appointed Fisher as the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. He rebelled against the government by voting against the party whip on the Competition Act 1998, and was later sacked in Blair's first cabinet reshuffle in 1998, after which Fisher returned to the backbenches.
He has served as the Patron for the National Benevolent Fund for the Aged since 1986, and was a member of the BBC General Advisory Council for ten years from 1987. He also served as a council member of the Institute for Policy Studies 1985–95, and was the deputy Pro-Chancellor of Keele University from 1989 until his entry to government in 1997. In 2000 he was a visiting fellow at St Antony's College, Oxford.
In June 2009, Fisher called on Prime Minister Gordon Brown to resign. In the expenses scandal he claimed over £17,000, none of which he was required to pay back. The bulk of this sum was spent on mortgage and utility payments on his second home. Some of his more bizarre expenses claims include a 34 pence Kit Kat bar, a bottle of Toilet Duck and a pack of chunky crayons and face painting kit.
Fisher believes that Parliament has become too much of a rubber stamp for government policy. He chaired the "Parliament First" group, which seeks to restore the balance of power to Parliament.
His particular interest of the arts led him to criticize the Blair administration for what he called its obsession with "popular music, youth culture and new technologies" and "art created for and by young people"; instead he wished for a more "balanced" cultural policy.
Fisher married Ingrid Geech Hunt in 1971 and fathered two children, Rhydian Fisher, and the actress India Fisher, as well as taking over the upbringing of Hunt's two children by her previous marriage, the musician Crispin Hunt and the actress Francesca Hunt. The couple divorced in 1999. He is self-effacing and has compared himself to looking like Humpty Dumpty. He has lived in the Stoke-on-Trent district of Hartshill since first running for Parliament.
Fisher's 2004 book Britain's Best Museums and Galleries listed what were, in his opinion, the 350 best museums in the country.
In October 2009, it was revealed that Fisher was paid £67,000 a year as an adviser to a museum in the Middle East. The Qatar Museums Authority paid him this sum for three board meetings a year. It is unknown[when?] if he is still part of the Qatar Museums Authority's board of trustees, but the authority's website does not mention his name in the list of members.
- 1974: Brave New Town (play)
- 1988: City Centres, City Cultures
- 1990: The Cutting Room (play)
- 1991: Whose Cities? (with Ursula Owen), Penguin Books
- 1992: A New London (with Richard Rogers), Penguin Books; ISBN 0-14-015794-8
- 2004: Britain's Best Museums and Galleries, Allen Lane; ISBN 0-7139-9575-0
- "Mark Fisher MP for Stoke-on-Trent Central". Official Website.
- "Mark Fisher Appointed Arts Minister", Local Government Chronicle, 9 May 1997.
- "Mark Fisher calls on Gordon Brown to stand down". The Sentinel. 5 June 2009.
- "Mark Fisher". The Sentinel. 11 December 2009.
- "Kit Kat, light bulbs and face paints among items Mark Fisher charged to the taxpayer". The Sentinel. 20 June 2009.
- "Labour's Mark Fisher to step down". BBC News. 10 March 2010.
- "Sadness as health forces MP to quit", The Stoke Sentinel, 11 March 2010.
- Justin Parkinson, "Historian Tristram Hunt on switching to life as an MP", BBC News – Politics, 8 February 2011.
- "Labour MPs who rebelled on Iraq". BBC News Online. 31 October 2006.
- Webb, Alex (17 May 2002). "Ex-minister attacks culture policy". BBC News Online.
- "Mark Fisher – Profile". BBC News Online. 16 October 2002. "Yard told to probe peerage offer to MP". Sunday Times. 14 May 2006.
- "Mark Fisher MP lists top 350 Museums". BBC Staffordshire. 2004.
- "MP Mark Fisher earns £67k as museum adviser in Qatar". The Sentinel. 17 October 2009.
- Qatar Museums Authority Board of Trustees.
- "People – MPs – Labour – Mark Fisher". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 10 March 2010.[dead link]