Fiona Mactaggart

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Fiona Mactaggart 
Fiona McTaggart MP for Slough.jpg
Member of Parliament
for Slough
In office
1 May 1997 – 3 May 2017
Preceded byJohn Arthur Watts
Succeeded byTanmanjeet Singh Dhesi
Personal details
Fiona Margaret Mactaggart

(1953-09-12) 12 September 1953 (age 67)
London, England
Political partyLabour
RelationsSir Ian Mactaggart Bt, Sir Herbert Williams
ResidenceLondon, Isle of Islay and Slough
Alma materCheltenham Ladies' College
King's College London
University College London
Goldsmiths University of London

Fiona Margaret Mactaggart PC (born 12 September 1953) is a British Labour Party politician and former primary school teacher. She was the Member of Parliament (MP) for Slough from the 1997 general election until she stood down at the 2017 general election.[1]

Early life and career[edit]

Cheltenham Ladies' College

While at university, Mactaggart was an outspoken member of the Young Students and Socialists Society and sought to live down her school days at Cheltenham Ladies' College, an independent school for girls. She read for a BA in English at King's College London, an MA at the Institute of Education and a PGCE at Goldsmiths, University of London.

Mactaggart was Vice-President and National Secretary of the National Union of Students from 1978 to 1981. She was Press and Public Relations Officer for the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) for six months before being General Secretary of the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants[2] from 1982 to 1987. She was a primary school teacher in Peckham from 1987 to 1992, noting "I have a voice that children can hear at the other end of the playground".[3]

She was elected to Wandsworth Council in 1986 to represent Shaftesbury ward, and was Leader of the Labour Group from 1988 to 1990, when she lost her seat.[4][5] From 1992 to 1997, she was a lecturer in Primary Education at the Institute of Education and Chair of Liberty, the civil liberties rights pressure group. While a primary school teacher, she decided to become an MP, as being able to change the world "thirty kids at a time" seemed too slow for her.[6] She is a feminist.[7]

Parliamentary career[edit]

Mactaggart was elected as Labour MP for Slough in 1997. She was selected to stand for election for Labour through an all-women shortlist.[8]

From May 2003, until Mactaggart asked to leave her post in the 5 May 2006 Cabinet reshuffle, she served at the Home Office as Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State with responsibility for Criminal Justice, Race Equality and Communities and then Offender Management.

In 2004, Mactaggart attracted criticism for a reluctance to condemn violent protests by Sikhs which led to the cancellation of the play Behzti at the Birmingham Repertory Theatre.[9] Around a thousand protesters stormed the production, set in a temple, at the opening of the curtain. Speaking on BBC Radio 4, MacTaggart said: "I think that when people are moved by theatre to protest, in a way that's a sign of the free speech which is so much part of the British tradition. I think that it's a great thing that people care enough about a performance to protest". Mactaggart also suggested the play and its author would benefit from the violent protests, adding that the controversy was "a sign of a lively flourishing cultural life".[10][11]

In November 2008, Mactaggart attracted criticism for using unreliable statistics during as parliamentary that were not fully supported by evidence when discussing the issue of prostitution.[12] Mactaggart was asked how those criminalised by a new law were supposed to know if a prostitute had been trafficked or not. She replied "I think they can guess", "something like 80% of women in prostitution are controlled by their drug dealer, their pimp, or their trafficker."[13] When questioned on her claim she stated that it "came from an official Government publication into prostitution and the sex trade".[14] However, a BBC magazine article states that "it is impossible to find that number in any research done on this subject." The Home Office have also stated that they "do not endorse or use the figure that 80 per cent of prostitutes are controlled by others".[15] The controversy continued in January 2009 with MacTaggart told the House of Commons that she regarded all women prostitutes as the victims of trafficking, because their route into the sector "almost always involves coercion, enforced addiction to drugs and violence from their pimps or traffickers." Again this claim is not supported by any known research.[16]

In May 2011, Mactaggart was criticised by the Association of Political Thought for calling some of the views of London School of Economics professor of political and gender theory Anne Phillips "frankly nauseating" because of her supposed support for prostitution. This assessment was based on the existence of a question on an LSE reading list about the ethical differences between legal waged labour and prostitution.[17][18] Mactaggart had previously caused controversy with her hard-line approach to the issue of prostitution by comparing men who use prostitutes to abusers of children, stating "I don't think most men who use prostitutes think of themselves as child abusers, but they are".[19][20][21]

In October 2013, Mactaggart was one of only six Labour MPs—the others being Diane Abbott, Jeremy Corbyn, Kelvin Hopkins, John McDonnell and Dennis Skinner—to oppose Theresa May's Immigration Act 2014.[22] Four years later, the bill resulted in the Windrush scandal.[23]

In February 2014 Mactaggart asked the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Iain Duncan Smith, if he would "make it his policy not to offer job subsidies for employing teenagers as auxiliary workers in adult entertainment establishments".[24] Her question related to employers in the adult entertainment industry being offered over £2,000 incentive from the Department for Work and Pensions for every unemployed young person (aged 18–24) that they hired.[25][26] Esther McVey, the Minister of State for Employment, stated that "The Welfare Reform Act 2012 ensured that vacancies which involve performing sexual activities were banned from being advertised on Government websites and a distinction was made in law to differentiate between performers and ancillary workers."[24]

Later in 2014 Mactaggart was appointed to the Intelligence and Security Committee.[27] She abstained in the September 2014 vote on whether or not to enter the war against ISIL.[28]

In March 2015, she was appointed to the Privy Council of the United Kingdom and therefore granted the title The Right Honourable.[29]

Personal life[edit]

Her father, the late Sir Ian Mactaggart, Bt, was a multimillionaire Glasgow property developer, Conservative candidate and Eurosceptic. Her mother's father, Sir Herbert Williams, Bt, was a Conservative Member of Parliament for 27 years. Her great-grandfather was Sir John Mactaggart, the first treasurer of the first branch of Keir Hardie's Labour Party. Her father left her a fifth of his £6.5m estate, and it is thought she was the second richest Labour MP. Critics often make an issue of MacTaggart's huge wealth, with journalist Benedict Brogan describing her as "a Scottish laird who is as wealthy as she is humourless".[30]

Mactaggart owns three homes, one in London, one on the Isle of Islay and a flat in Slough.[31] She suffers from multiple sclerosis and is an ovarian cancer survivor.[9][32] Her sister stood as a Parliamentary candidate for the Liberal Democrats in Devizes in the 1992 General Election.[33]


  1. ^ Batchelor, Tom (20 April 2017). "Fiona McTaggart stands down as Labour MP while Jeremy Corbyn gives key speech". The Independent. Retrieved 20 April 2017.
  2. ^ "The Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants – Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants".
  3. ^ "Fiona Mactaggart". The Guardian. London. 16 March 2001.
  4. ^ Minors, Michael (1990). London Borough Council Elections : 3 May 1990 (PDF). London: London Research Centre. p. 82. ISBN 1852611154. Retrieved 14 December 2020.
  5. ^ London Borough Council elections : 8 May 1986 (PDF). London: London Residuary Body - Research and Intelligence Unit. 1986. p. 72. ISBN 1852610034. Retrieved 14 December 2020.
  6. ^ Sylvester, Rachel (11 August 2001). "Just don't assume too much about this millionairess". The Daily Telegraph. London.
  7. ^ 'Rescue': a new PC term for repatriation | Nathalie Rothschild | spiked Archived 5 November 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^ "Seats with Labour candidates from all-female shortlists". The Independent. London. 9 January 1996. Retrieved 13 June 2009.
  9. ^ a b Waller, Robert; Criddle, Byron (16 August 2018). The Almanac of British Politics. Taylor & Francis. ISBN 9780415378246 – via Google Books.
  10. ^ Britten, Nick (22 December 2004). "Minister defends rights of protesters as Sikh play closes". The Daily Telegraph. London.
  11. ^ Britten, Nick (22 December 2004). "Violent protests will benefit axed Sikh play, says minister". The Daily Telegraph. London.
  12. ^ "Women in prostitution 'controlled'". BBC News. 9 January 2009.
  13. ^ BBC iPlayer – More or Less: Sex Workers – Babylonian Numbers – Credit Crunch Maths: Journalism[link expired]
  14. ^ "Fiona Mactaggart and the dodgy prostitution statistics". The Daily Telegraph. London. 9 January 2009. Retrieved 2 May 2010.
  15. ^ "Is the number of trafficked call girls a myth?". BBC News. 9 January 2009. Retrieved 2 May 2010.
  16. ^ Davies, Nick (20 October 2009). "Prostitution and trafficking – the anatomy of a moral panic". The Guardian. London.
  17. ^ OurKingdom (29 May 2011). "MP attacks LSE professor over feminist political theory course". London: OurKingdom. Retrieved 31 May 2011.
  18. ^ Hansard (18 May 2011). "Hansard Record of 18th May 2001". London: Hansard. Retrieved 31 May 2011.
  19. ^ "Zero tolerance for kerb crawlers". Manchester Evening News. 4 January 2006.
  20. ^ Hinsliff, Gaby (15 January 2006). "Men who pay for sex are 'as bad as child abusers'". The Guardian. London.
  21. ^ "Prostitution shake-up: One sex worker's view". BMJ. 332 (7535): 245.1. 2006. doi:10.1136/bmj.332.7535.245. PMC 1352075.
  22. ^ "Stop the Immigration Bill: a "regime of harassment for migrants" • Right to Remain". Right to Remain. 5 November 2013. Retrieved 25 November 2020.
  23. ^ Snead, Florence (19 April 2018). "Windrush: How Jeremy Corbyn, Theresa May and other MPs voted on the Immigration Act 2014". Retrieved 25 November 2020.
  24. ^ a b Fiona Mactaggart (MP for Slough) and Esther McVey (Minister of State for Employment) (11 February 2014). "Employment: Sex Establishments (written question)". Parliamentary Debates (Hansard). United Kingdom: House of Commons. col. 583W–584W.
  25. ^ Piggott, Mark (16 February 2014). "UK Government pays sex clubs to employ teenage girls". International Business Times. IBT Media.
  26. ^ Department for Work and Pensions (2010), "Chapter 20: Youth Contract – Wage Incentive Scheme", Work Programme provider guidance (Work Choice only): treatment of different types of employment (PDF), HM Government, pp. 4–5
  27. ^ "Fiona Mactaggart MP". UK Parliament. Retrieved 15 December 2014.
  28. ^ "Iraq: Coalition against Isil". Hansard. UK Parliament. 26 September 2014. 26 Sep 2014 : Column 1360. Retrieved 15 December 2014.
  29. ^ "Privy Council appointments: March 2015". Press release. Prime Minister's Office. 12 March 2015. Retrieved 13 March 2015.
  30. ^ Kallenbach, Michael (23 June 2000). "Yesterday in Parliament". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 2 May 2010.
  31. ^ Slough MP speaks out on expenses Archived 13 June 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  32. ^ Westminster, Department of the Official Report (Hansard), House of Commons. "House of Commons Hansard Debates for 12 Oct 2011 (pt 0001)".
  33. ^ "UK General election results April 9th 1992 [Archive]". Archived from the original on 24 July 2011. Retrieved 25 March 2013.

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
John Watts
Member of Parliament for Slough
Succeeded by
Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi