Margaret became the Labour Member of Parliament for Barking in June 1994.
Previous roles included Chair of Housing and then Leader of Islington Council. She has served in government, holding portfolios across education, work and pensions, business and culture. She was the first Children’s Minister from 2003 to
2005; Minister for Universities from 2001-2003; and Minister for the Arts and the Creative Industries for the final years of the last Labour Government.
In 2010, Margaret faced a challenge from the leader of the British National Party in the General Election of that year. She won the ‘Battle for Barking’ and was returned to Parliament with a comfortable majority. Later that year, Margaret also became the first elected Chair of the Public Accounts Committee and was also its first female Chair. After retiring the post in 2015, Margaret later published Called to Account reflecting on her time as Chair of
Since 2015, Margaret has been Chair of the Board of Directors of Theatre Royal Stratford East and in 2018 became the Chair of College Council for Royal Holloway, University of London.
Margaret is also Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Responsible Tax, a Visiting Professor at The Policy Institute at King’s College London and a board member for the Westminster Foundation for Democracy.
Widowed, Margaret has 4 children and 12 grandchildren.