Lord Smith of Finsbury

Lord Smith of Finsbury was educated at George Watson's College, Edinburgh, and Pembroke College, Cambridge, where he took a double first in English. He was a Kennedy Scholar at Harvard and completed his Cambridge PhD on Wordsworth and Coleridge in 1979. He was a Labour councillor for Islington Borough for five years, and was Chairman of Housing from 1981 to 1983.

In 1983 he became MP for Islington South and Finsbury. In 1992 he joined the Shadow Cabinet as Shadow Secretary of State for Environmental Protection, and two years later moved to Heritage, then Social Security and Health. When Labour came to power in 1997 he became Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport. He returned to the back benches after the 2001 election, where he has retained his commitment to the arts and heritage.

He is Chairman of the Wordsworth Trust, a member of the boards of the National Theatre and the Donmar Warehouse, and is on the advisory council of the London Symphony Orchestra. He is a Visiting Professor in Culture and the Creative Industries at the University of the Arts London. He is an Honorary Fellow of Pembroke College, Cambridge, Chairman of the London Cultural Consortium. He stood down from the House of Commons in 2005, becoming a life peer as Lord Smith of Finsbury in July 2005.

Between 2003 and 2008 he was Director of the Clore Leadership Programme and is currently Chairman of the Environment Agency and Chairman of the Advertising Standards Authority.