A new book has revealed that one of the long line of recent housing ministers was known as “the invisible minister” because he kept such a low profile.
It was Mark Prisk, who is still Conservative MP for Hertford and Stortford but who has not been in any government position since being sacked as housing minister on October 7 2013 - he had held the post only since September 4 2012.
In her new book Why We Get The Wrong Politicians, political analyst Isabel Hardman - assistant editor at the right wing publication The Spectator - reveals how badly Prisk appears to have been regarded during his brief time in office.
Hardman recounts: “‘Is Mark Prisk still alive?’ one of his colleagues joked to me a few weeks before the then-minister got the chop. ‘We haven’t seen him for months’.”
However, Hardman says Prisk’s problem was that he “made the mistake of knuckling down with the job but not informing the media what he was doing. He cheesed off the [housing] department’s special advisers on arrival by telling them he wasn’t interested in political knockabout but instead wanted to work quietly on increasing housing supply.”
In her book - which debates the challenges facing individuals from different backgrounds who want to be MPs - Hardman says the spate of 22 different ministers responsible for housing in the past 20 years represents a “housing hall of fame.”
Prisk may feel hard done by as a result of the descriptions in the book, but at least he appears to fare better than the higher profile Grant Shapps (housing minister from May 2010 until September 2012).
Hardman describes Shapps as “noisy and media-savvy”.