elisa_rolle (elisa_rolle) wrote,

Chris Smith, Baron Smith of Finsbury & Dorien Jabri

Christopher "Chris" Robert Smith, Baron Smith of Finsbury PC (born 24 July 1951) is a British politician; a former Member of Parliament (MP) and Cabinet Minister and a current peer. Although he is currently not aligned to any party, for the majority of his career he was a Labour Party member. He was one of the first openly gay British MPs, coming out in 1984, and in 2005, the first MP to acknowledge that he is HIV positive. In 2005, Smith and communications director Dorian Jabri (born 1957) sealed their love with a civil partnership ceremony. At then end of 2012 it came the news that Smith is no longer sharing his life with Jabri, whom he met in 1987 when Dorian joined a delegation to lobby MPs about Clause 28, which made it illegal for councils to promote homosexuality. Within months, the two men were living together and they bought a house in Islington, North London - Smith's constituency. Smith has told friends that their separation is entirely amicable and that it is 'just one of those things'.

Chris Smith was born in Barnet, London, and educated at George Watson's College in Edinburgh and Pembroke College, Cambridge, where he gained a first class honours degree in English and a PhD with a thesis on Coleridge and Wordsworth. He also attended Harvard University as a Kennedy Scholar, where he was president of the Cambridge Union Society.

He worked for a housing charity and became a councillor in the London Borough of Islington before narrowly winning the seat of Islington South & Finsbury at the 1983 General election, defeating George Cunningham. Cunningham stood against him a second time at the 1987 General election when Smith again defeated him.

Dorian Jabri and Chris Smith attend an after party on press night for the recruiting officer at a hospital club, London, England on 14th february 2012. (credit: dan wooller/wooller.com).
Chris Smith, Baron Smith of Finsbury is a British politician; a former Member of Parliament (MP) and a current peer. He was one of the first openly gay British MPs. In 2005, Smith and Dorian Jabri sealed their love with a civil partnership ceremony. At then end of 2012 it came the news that Smith is no longer sharing his life with Jabri, whom he met in 1987 when Dorian joined a delegation to lobby MPs about Clause 28. Smith has told friends that their separation is entirely amicable.

In 1984 he became Britain's first openly gay MP. There had been several gay MPs before this whose homosexuality had been common knowledge in some circles, including their constituents in some cases, but they had not been completely open about it. During a rally in Rugby, Warwickshire, against a possible ban on gay employees by the town council, he began his speech: "Good afternoon, I'm Chris Smith, I'm the Labour MP for Islington South and Finsbury. I'm gay, and so for that matter are about a hundred other members of the House of Commons, but they won't tell you openly." He immediately received a standing ovation from most of the audience.

He became an opposition whip in 1986, a shadow Treasury minister from 1987 to 1992, and shadowed the environment, heritage, pensions and health portfolios between 1992 and 1997.

In 1997 he was appointed to Tony Blair's Cabinet as the first Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport. As a Minister known to have a close connection with the arts scene in Britain his time at DCMS is generally regarded as a success as many projects funded through the National Lottery came to fruition. There were controversies most notably his approval during his first week as minister of the appointment of Mary Allen to the Royal Opera House in which case a Select Committee report found that he had exceeded his authority and failed in not seeking advice from his Permanent Secretary. In 2000 he managed to secure a tax rebate that enabled many museums to give free admission. He held this position throughout the Labour government's first term, but was sacked and returned to the back benches after the 2001 election, replaced by the up-and-coming Tessa Jowell. Tony Blair later hinted at his regret at losing Smith's services, particularly his strong relationship with the arts world.

After over 20 years in Parliament, Smith stepped down from the House of Commons at the 2005 general election. It was announced on 30 April 2005 that he was to be created a life peer, and the title was gazetted on 22 June 2005 as Baron Smith of Finsbury, in the London Borough of Islington.

Smith was appointed Chair of the London Cultural Consortium (the successor body to the Cultural Strategy Group) by London Mayor Ken Livingstone, and served from 2005 to 2008.

He was one of the founding directors of the Clore Leadership Programme, an initiative aimed at helping to train and develop new leaders of Britain's cultural sector. He is also currently a board member of the Royal National Theatre and Chairman of the Wordsworth Trust. In November 2006, he was appointed as Chairman of The Advertising Standards Authority. Smith is a keen mountaineer and was the first MP to climb all the 3,000 ft "Munros" in Scotland; in April 2004 he was elected as the Ramblers' Association President. He is a patron of London-based HIV charity, The Food Chain.

On 30 January 2005, Smith revealed to the Sunday Times that he had HIV and was first diagnosed in 1987. He stated that he had decided to go public following Nelson Mandela's announcement of his son's death from AIDS.

On 8 May 2008, he was announced as the new Chairman of the Environment Agency and took up the new role in mid July. In an interview with The Independent in August that year, he said Britain faced hard choices over which coasts to defend and which to leave to the sea because it would not be possible to save all coastal homes from sea erosion. Lord Smith was re-appointed as Chair of the Environment Agency for a further three years by Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman in 2011. Lord Smith, will now continue in this role until 13 July 2014. On re-appointment he received £100,813 pro rata for 2011/12, based on working three days per week.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chris_Smith,_Baron_Smith_of_Finsbury

Further Readings:

Almanac of British Politics by Byron Criddle
Paperback: 944 pages
Publisher: Routledge; 7 edition (August 4, 2002)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0415268346
ISBN-13: 978-0415268349
Amazon: Almanac of British Politics
Amazon Kindle: Almanac of British Politics

This new edition of The Almanac of British Politics has been thoroughly revised and updated since the second successive Labour election victory in 2001. It is firmly established as the definitive guide to the political map of the United Kingdom, covering in detail each of the constituencies sending representatives to the House of Commons. It also contains insightful biographical sketches of every single Member of Parliament. The Almanac gives a comprehensive seat-by-seat analysis of all parliamentary constituencies, describing their social, economic and political characteristics. This edition also includes new statistics for each seat including: electorate and turnout average property values per constituency unemployment premature mortality index and rank order financial deprivation. This is the essential reference work on British politics for students, academics, journalists and psephologists.

More Real Life Romances at my website: http://www.elisarolle.com/, My Ramblings/Real Life Romance

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Tags: gay classics, leader: chris smith, persistent voices, real life romance

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