Angela has been an active member of the Labour Party since she first joined aged 17 in 1978 and has since held various positions in the party. She was elected to the Party’s National Women’s Conference in 1989 and chaired the National Conference of Labour Women in 1991. From 1989 until 1991 Angela was the constituency party secretary for Peckham in South London before being selected as the Labour Party candidate for Wallasey. Angela was first elected to Parliament in the 1992 General Election when she defeated the then Minister for Overseas Development at the Foreign Office, Lynda Chalker, by 3,809 votes to become the first ever Labour MP for Wallasey.
Whilst in opposition, and as a newly elected MP, Angela became a member of the Employment Select Committee in 1994 that has investigated such subjects as the role of trade unions, mothers in employment and executive salaries. In recognition of her achievements Angela was promoted to the role of opposition whip in 1996. Angela’s first Government role was in the Department for Environment, Transport and the Regions where she was appointed as a Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State following the 1997 General Election that returned a Labour Government and Angela re-elected with a greatly increased majority of 19,074. In her new role, Angela worked on environmental issues such as water, the countryside and regeneration. In 1998, Angela was moved to the Department of Social Security, again as a Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, where she had a number of responsibilities including Income Support, Jobseekers Allowance, Family Tax Credits and the Benefits Agency. Angela remained in this role until the 2001 General Election where she was re-elected for the third time.
Following the 2001 General Election, Angela moved to the Home Office where she remained until the reshuffle in May 2002 when she returned to the backbenches. Angela was a member of the Treasury Select Committee for five years. Angela was also elected as Vice Chair of the Parliamentary Labour Party during this period. She was also elected to represent backbench Labour MPs on the Labour Party’s National Executive Committee. Angela was back on the frontbench in June 2007, this time as Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury, a new position created in HM Treasury. Angela was responsible for areas including competition and improving regulation, excise duties and gambling, climate change issues such as carbon trading and taxation of transport and the Royal Mint. Angela was promoted again in June 2009; this time to the role of Minister of State for Pensions and the Ageing Society in the Department for Work and Pensions.
Following the 2010 general election the Tory-led Coalition took the keys to Number 10 and the Labour Party was in opposition. Angela came joint fourth in the Labour Party’s shadow cabinet election and was appointed to the role of Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury by the new party leader Ed Miliband. In October 2011, Angela became Shadow Leader of the House. In September 2015, she was appointed as Shadow Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, a position she held until June 2016. She has since served on the backbenches, and has campaigned on issues such as cuts to disability benefits and NHS services across the Wirral.
Angela was re-elected to be the Member of Parliament for Wallasey in the 2017 General Election and the 2019 General Election.
Angela was appointed Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) in the 2021 New Year Honours for parliamentary and political service.