There was the usual fighting talk when Angela Smith lost her seat at South Basildon and East Thurrock at the election: the seat’s only on loan to you Tories, we’ll be back, and so on.
It may well be that Labour will regain this marginal constituency when the pendulum swings again, but it won’t be in the person of Smith, whose elevation to the Lords was announced in the dissolution honours list. Baroness Smith of Pitsea?
She will be joining a cohort that probably has more extensive knowledge and experience of the sector than their counterparts in the Commons. Think of Lord Phillips, Baroness Pitkeathley, Baroness Barker and more. It will be to the sector’s advantage to have not one but two former ministers joining this outfit – Paul Boateng, who was responsible for the sector before the Office of the Third Sector was created, is also ennobled.
But it will be interesting to see how Smith’s interests play out in the upper chamber. She’s often made it clear that animal rights are a major concern for her: she worked for the League Against Cruel Sports before she went into Parliament in 1997 and she is a patron of the Captive Animals Protection Society.
Given the relative freedom of the red benches, perhaps she’ll focus more on her cause area than the generic concerns of the sector itself.
P.S. It’s reported in the Guardian diary column (so it must be correct) that Smith is arguing that it’s time for the ermine on their lordships’ robes to be fake fur instead of real. Might this be a sign of things to come?