WWhile several people who have worked alongside Munira Mirza praise her intellect and character, it seemed paradoxical that having led No 10’s efforts to stoke culture war issues, he eventually resigned in protest of bad policy.
Mirza, who resigned over Boris Johnson’s false claim that Keir Starmer stopped attempts to impeach Jimmy Savile, was the official behind Downing Street’s much-criticized report on racial disparities, which downplayed structural factors.
He also defended earlier remarks by Johnson, dismissing as “hysteria” the reaction to his 2018 newspaper column that compared Muslim women in burkas to mailboxes and bank robbers.
What is certain is that your loss will be significant. Mirza worked with Johnson for 14 years, including his eight-year stint as Mayor of London. She started out as an adviser on the arts and became his deputy mayor for education and culture.
While No. 10 is largely associated with issues of culture war, like her husband and fellow No. 10 adviser Dougie Smith, Johnson felt that Mirza valued because his views were not easily defined and could be unexpected. , with the prime minister praising her as a “powerful bullshit detector”.
In a 2020 profile of Mirza, Andrew Gimson, the prime minister’s biographer, said that she and Johnson were not easy to pigeonhole by ideology.
He said: “Of the two, she is the more rigorous and scientific, he more inclined to trust instinct and intuition. But there is an affinity between them, especially as she also possesses, in the words of one senior minister, “a wonderful, biting sense of humor that is in tune with the prime minister’s.”
His political journey has certainly been a long one. Born in Oldham in 1978 to parents who came to the UK from Pakistan, she attended her local comprehensive school and Oldham Sixth Form College before studying English at Mansfield College, Oxford.
Unlike Johnson, who was president of the Oxford Union and involved in Tory politics, Mirza was a radical student, becoming a member of the Revolutionary Communist Party and contributing to its magazine Living Marxism.
But she was frustrated by what she saw as the narrow-mindedness of the left, and embarked on the journey across the political spectrum that resulted in Policy Exchange, the modernizing conservative think tank, hiring her and eventually landing her in Downing. Street.
One of his most widely expressed views has been to question the idea that the challenges faced by blacks and ethnic minorities in the UK are the result of structural racism.
In 2018, he accused then-universities minister Sam Gyimah of “a cynical game of hot potatoes” after he criticized Oxbridge for not admitting more black students instead of investigating the deeper causes of the disparity.
And he repeatedly criticized Labor MP David Lammy’s report on the justice system, which was commissioned by Theresa May. Framing the problem in terms of institutional racism “only blurs the reality of what is happening and could ultimately lead to worse outcomes for ethnic minorities,” Mirza said in an article for the anti-spiked website.