Conservative Intelligence

Conservative Intelligence

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Munira Mirza

Department: The Office of Boris Johnson, Mayor of London

Position: Director of Policy for Arts

Last Updated: Thursday, August 5th, 2010

In June 2008 Munira Mirza was appointed Director of Policy for Arts, Culture and Creative Industries. Mirza is in charge of developing the Mayor’s cultural strategy, and has curtailed the endless stream of events at Trafalgar Square, which she calls “a fine open public space”. She oversees the GLA’s ‘Fourth Plinth’ scheme of rotating contemporary art, although the Mayor has also supported the temporary installation of a war memorial on the Fourth Plinth in 2009 to coincide with the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Britain. Mirza was behind the Story of London, which ran throughout June.

It included a re-enactment of Henry VIII’s coronation, the screening at the British Film Institute of films set in London and a fashion show. She was a member of the advisory panel for a Joseph Rowntree Foundation study on Muslims and community cohesion, and in 2005 she presented the BBC Radio 4 documentary series entitled “The Business of Race”. Mirza is a founding member of the Manifesto Club, which “campaigns against the hyperregulation of everyday life” although she is no longer active in it. It opposes Mayor Johnson’s alcohol ban on the Tube and supports expansion at Heathrow, which Johnson is implacably set against.

Her Mayoral appointment caused quite a stir due to her involvement in the Institute of Ideas, successor to the Revolutionary Communist Party, publishers of the magazine Living Marxism. Unusually for a Johnson appointee, Mirza is a non-Conservative. She has worked as a journalist, lecturer (at the universities of East London and Kent) and policy researcher, and been employed by the Royal Society of Arts and Tate.

She sits on a number of cultural bodies, including Arts Council London. Mirza is 31 and was born in Oldham to Pakistani parents. She went to a comprehensive school and then read English at Oxford University. She is married to Dougie Smith, who used to be David Cameron’s speechwriter and is now Head of the Conservative Party’s Political Section.”

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