Angela Smith (Sheffield MP)

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Angela Smith

Angela Christine Smith, Stocksbridge 2009 AB.jpg
Independent Group Spokesperson for Energy and Environment
Assumed office
1 March 2019
SpokespersonChuka Umunna
Preceded byOffice established
Independent Group Spokesperson for Transport, Local Government and Housing
Assumed office
1 March 2019
SpokespersonChuka Umunna
Preceded byOffice established
Shadow Deputy Leader of the House of Commons
In office
7 October 2011 – 15 April 2014
LeaderEd Miliband
ShadowingDavid Heath
Tom Brake
Preceded byHelen Jones
Succeeded byThomas Docherty
Member of Parliament
for Penistone and Stocksbridge
Sheffield Hillsborough (2005–2010)
Assumed office
5 May 2005
Preceded byHelen Jackson
Majority1,322 (2.6%)
Personal details
Born
Angela Christine Smith

(1961-08-16) 16 August 1961 (age 57)
Grimsby, Lincolnshire, England
NationalityBritish
Political partyIndependent (2019–present)
Other political
affiliations
Labour (until 2019)
Spouse(s)Steven Wilson[1]
Children1 stepdaughter
Alma materUniversity of Nottingham
OccupationEnglish lecturer—Dearne Valley College
ProfessionEnglish lecturer
Websitewww.angelasmith-mp.org.uk

Angela Christine Smith (born 16 August 1961) is a British politician and former lecturer. She has represented the parliamentary seat of Penistone and Stocksbridge since 2010. Before boundary changes, she was Member of Parliament (MP) for Sheffield Hillsborough from 2005 to 2010. Controversial among left-wing members of the Labour Party for her opposition to Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and the party's policy of water renationalisation, as well as her support for fracking, in 2018 she lost a motion of no confidence by her constituency party. Smith resigned from the Labour Party in February 2019 alongside six other MPs in protest at Corbyn's leadership, and they formed The Independent Group.[2][3]

Early life and career before Parliament[edit]

Smith was born on 16 August 1961 in Grimsby. She grew up in Grimsby, where her grandfather had been the Mayor.[4] She attended Waltham Leas Primary School (now The Leas Junior School) in Waltham and Tollbar Secondary School, in New Waltham, Lincolnshire.

She joined the Labour Party at the age of 16 and worked for the NHS for five years, before taking A levels on an evening course. She studied English at the University of Nottingham in September 1987.

She began a PhD at Newnham College, Cambridge, but did not complete it.[5] She was an English lecturer at Dearne Valley College in Wath upon Dearne from 1994 until 2003.

She stood unsuccessfully as the Labour Party candidate for the Castle Ward of Cambridge City Council in May 1994.[6] She was elected as a councillor for the Labour Party on Sheffield City Council in 1996 for the ward of Broomhill, before winning in Birley ward in 2000 and 2004. She stood down in 2005 and the new Labour candidate won the by-election in May 2005.[4][7]

Parliamentary career[edit]

At the 2005 general election, Smith was elected Member of Parliament for Sheffield Hillsborough.[8] In 2007, she was appointed Parliamentary Private Secretary and chief aide to Yvette Cooper.

During her tenure Smith worked to reinstate the former Woodhead line between Hadfield and Penistone.[9] Smith is one of 71 MPs who have signed a petition to re-open the trans-Pennine route and she has on more than one occasion headed debates in Westminster on the need for more railway investment in the north.

In July 2009, she introduced a symbolic Ten Minute Rule Bill to the House of Commons which, if accepted by government, would have changed the law to give people more legal protection against attacks by dogs. She worked with the RSPCA and the Communication Workers Union on the issue. It failed. [10]

The Sheffield Hillsborough seat was abolished at the 2010 election, but Smith was elected as the MP for the newly created Penistone and Stocksbridge constituency. She was re-elected at the 2015 general election and 2017 general election.

After a period as opposition Whip, Smith was promoted to the front bench as the Shadow Deputy Leader of the House in October 2010.[11]

Smith was voted Constituency MP of the year 2011–12, voted for by fellow MPs, honouring her campaign against the axing of an £80 million loan to Sheffield Forgemasters. She followed this up by being awarded the League Against Cruel Sports' Parliamentarian of the Year in 2013 for her efforts against the trial badger cull, in which she worked with campaigner Brian May, as well as recognition for her wider campaign in protecting animals from cruelty.[12] She also became a vice-president of the League Against Cruel Sports.[13] Since February 2016, Smith has also served as a member of the Advisory Board at Polar Research and Policy Initiative.[14] She is a member of Labour Friends of Israel.[15]

In 2016 Smith backed a vote of no confidence in Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn in events which led to a leadership election in which Corbyn was re-elected as leader with an increased majority.[16]

In Parliament, she is a member of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee, and is a former member of the Administration Committee, the Procedure Committee, the Regulatory Reform Committee and Transport Committee.[17] She is a trustee of the Industry and Parliament Trust, which works to promote an understanding of business amongst parliamentarians and policymakers.[18]

Brexit voting record[edit]

On 7 December 2016, Smith voted against a motion tabled by the Labour Party, which set out the timetable for triggering Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union, the mechanism by which the UK will leave the EU. Smith claimed she was not voting against Brexit or triggering Article 50, but "against an unrealistic timetable as far as Parliamentary scrutiny is concerned." 62% of referendum voters in her constituency are estimated to have voted to leave the EU.[19]

Motion of no confidence[edit]

On 16 November 2018, her Constituency Labour Party passed a motion of no confidence in her on the grounds of her lack of support for the party leadership, her support for fracking and her opposition to water re-nationalisation. Smith tweeted that her "first priority is always to do my job, to the best of my ability" and that her defeat was as a result of "a cabal of hard left members" who had "absorbed everyone’s precious time and energy on an inaccurate and divisive motion of no confidence".[20]

Expenses[edit]

She is one of 98 MPs who voted unsuccessfully to keep their expense details secret in 2007. She defended her vote on the grounds that it would help member-constituent confidentiality and help prevent the private addresses of MP's being readily available to the public.[21]

In 2009, Smith was one of the MPs whose expenses were highlighted by The Daily Telegraph during the Parliamentary expenses scandal, as she had submitted expenses claims for four beds for a one bedroom flat in London.[22]

Smith employs her husband as her Senior Parliamentary Assistant on a salary up to £40,000.[23] The practice of MPs employing family members has been criticised by some sections of the media on the lines that it promotes nepotism.[24][25] Although MPs who were first elected in 2017 have been banned from employing family members, the restriction is not retrospective.[26]

The Independent Group[edit]

On 18 February 2019, Smith and six other MPs (Chuka Umunna, Luciana Berger, Chris Leslie, Mike Gapes, Gavin Shuker, and Ann Coffey) resigned the Labour whip to sit as The Independent Group of MPs in the House of Commons.[27] These resignations were prompted by issues with Jeremy Corbyn's leadership of the Labour Party, including allegations of the mishandling of antisemitism and his approach to Brexit.[27]

All-party water group, anti-nationalisation views[edit]

Smith is Chair of the of the All-Party Parliamentary Water Group,[28] a group "funded almost entirely by the water industry including suppliers such as Affinity Water, Northumbrian Water and Wessex Water".[29] In 2017, the group received £22,501 in funding through Connect Communications, which is financed by Water UK, Future Water Association, Anglian Water, Wessex Water, Southern Water, Plastic Pipes Group, Gemserv, and Coca-Cola Enterprises Ltd to act as the all-parliamentary group's secretariat.[30] Smith's 2016 register of interests also show that she and her husband "were treated to football matches and dinner three times by Whitehouse Construction", which is a subcontractor to Anglican Water and member of the Future Water Association.[29]

In 2018, Smith opposed Labour Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell's policy of re-nationalising Britain's water networks, saying such plans were "an expensive indulgence in the politics of the past ... founded on the altar of ideology and constantly vulnerable to politicial interference".[31] She has called for "rigorous reform" of Ofwat (Britain's water regulator), which has been criticised by the Commons Public Accounts Committee for allowing water companies to bill customers excessive amounts.[29]

Race comment controversy[edit]

In 2019, Smith attracted condemnation when, shortly after citing antisemitism as one of her reasons for leaving Labour at the Independent Group launch earlier that day, she appeared on BBC2's Politics Live where she referred to fighting racism as "not just about being black or a funny tin..." before hesitating and then finishing the sentence with "from the BME community": the unfinished word was widely taken to have been 'tinge'.[32][33][34] She later issued a video statement in which she said she "misspoke very badly".[35][36] Smith later told Sky News she had been "very, very tired".[37]

Personal life and family[edit]

In 2005, Smith married Steve Wilson, a Sheffield city councillor.[38] She is a Sheffield Wednesday F.C. season ticket holder, a Rolling Stones fan, and a keen walker.[5]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "House of Commons – The Register of Members' Financial Interests – Part 2: Part 2". Publications.parliament.uk. Retrieved 13 April 2014.
  2. ^ "Seven MPs leave Labour Party in protest at Jeremy Corbyn's leadership". Retrieved 18 February 2019.
  3. ^ Halliday, Josh (18 February 2019). "'Good riddance': Penistone locals have their say on Angela Smith resignation". The Guardian. Retrieved 18 February 2019.
  4. ^ a b "Angela Smith – A Biography". Angela Smith MP (official website). Angela Smith. Archived from the original on 19 June 2009. Retrieved 17 July 2009.
  5. ^ a b "Hard-working MP seemed set to become a minister". The Guardian. 17 April 2008. Retrieved 31 October 2018.
  6. ^ "Cambridge Council Election Results 1973–2012" (PDF). Plymouth University. Retrieved 31 October 2018.
  7. ^ "Sheffield Council Election Results 1973–2012" (PDF). Plymouth University. Retrieved 31 October 2018.
  8. ^ "Election 2005 Result: Sheffield Hillsborough". BBC News. BBC. 23 May 2005. Retrieved 16 July 2009.
  9. ^ Marsden, Richard (26 February 2008). "Angela Smith in talks over future of Woodhead tunnel". The Star. Johnston Press Digital Publishing. Retrieved 17 July 2009.
  10. ^ "Bid to toughen up law on dogs". The Star. Johnston Press Digital Publishing. 2 July 2009. Retrieved 17 July 2009.
  11. ^ "Welcome to the website of Angela Smith MP – About Angela". Angelasmith-mp.org.uk. 17 June 2012. Retrieved 13 April 2014.
  12. ^ "Welcome to the website of Angela Smith MP – Angela is named Parliamentarian of the Year 2013". Angelasmith-mp.org.uk. 19 July 2013. Retrieved 13 April 2014.
  13. ^ "S Yorks MP Angela Smith given new role". The Star. Sheffield. 8 August 2013. Retrieved 19 March 2017.
  14. ^ "Angela Smith MP – The Polar Connection". Retrieved 8 December 2016.
  15. ^ "LFI Supporters in Parliament". ”Labour Friends of Israel”. Retrieved 23 February 2019.
  16. ^ Torr, George (5 July 2016). "'Jeremy Corbyn's Labour leadership position is untenable' says Sheffield MP". The Star. Sheffield. Retrieved 19 March 2017.
  17. ^ "Angela Smith MP". GOV.UK. Retrieved 31 October 2018.
  18. ^ "IPT Trustee Board". Industry and Parliament Trust. Retrieved 20 February 2019.
  19. ^ Adam Payne, Adam Bienkov (12 December 2016). "We spoke to the MPs who defied their voters on Brexit". Business Insider. Retrieved 19 March 2017.
  20. ^ "Vote of no confidence passed in Penistone and Stocksbridge MP Angela Smith". Yorkshire Post. 17 November 2018. Retrieved 22 November 2018.
  21. ^ "How your MP voted on the FOI Bill". Times Online. London: Times Newspapers Ltd. 20 May 2007. Retrieved 16 July 2009.
  22. ^ Johnston, Ian (24 May 2009). "MPs' expenses: New MP sought four beds for a one-bedroom London flat". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 16 July 2009.
  23. ^ "IPSA". gov.uk. Retrieved 31 October 2018.
  24. ^ "One in five MPs employs a family member: the full list revealed". The Daily Telegraph. 29 June 2015. Retrieved 31 October 2018.
  25. ^ Mason, Rowena (29 June 2015). "Keeping it in the family: new MPs continue to hire relatives as staff". The Guardian. Retrieved 31 October 2018.
  26. ^ "MPs banned from employing spouses after election in expenses crackdown". Evening Standard. London. 21 April 2017. Retrieved 31 October 2018.
  27. ^ a b "Seven MPs leave Labour in Corbyn protest". BBC News. 18 February 2019. Retrieved 18 February 2019.
  28. ^ Register Of All-Party Parliamentary Groups [as at 15 February 2017]
  29. ^ a b c Sabin, Lamiat (18 April 2018). "Backbench Labour MP with interests in water industry says she backs privatised water". Morning Star. Retrieved 27 February 2019.
  30. ^ Louter, Daan; Barr, Caelainn; Louter, Daan; Barr, Caelainn (6 Jan 2017). "Track the millions of pounds given to all-party parliamentary groups". The Guardian. Retrieved 28 February 2019.
  31. ^ Lea, Robert (17 April 2018). "Labour MP savages party's water policy". The Times. Retrieved 27 February 2019. (Subscription required (help)).
  32. ^ "Angela Smith appears to describe people with 'funny tinge' in racism debate – video". The Guardian. 18 February 2019. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 18 February 2019.
  33. ^ Bartlett, Nicola (18 February 2019). "Independent Group hit by racism row after Angela Smith's comments on skin colour". Daily Mirror. Retrieved 18 February 2019.
  34. ^ "Watch: Angela Smith apologises over 'funny tinge' gaffe". Coffee House. 18 February 2019. Retrieved 18 February 2019.
  35. ^ Smith, Angela (18 February 2019). "I'm really sorry that I misspoke earlier on Politics Live - here's my statement.pic.twitter.com/7csM95TFLo". @angelasmithmp. Retrieved 18 February 2019.
  36. ^ Zatat, Narjas. "Former Labour MP apologises after appearing to call BME people 'a funny tinge'". www.indy100.com. Retrieved 19 February 2019.
  37. ^ "I was very, very tired". www.standard.co.uk. Retrieved 19 February 2019.
  38. ^ Marsden, Richard (14 September 2013). "South Yorks and area MPs claimed £760,000 in expenses". The Star. Sheffield. Retrieved 19 March 2017.

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Helen Jackson
Member of Parliament for Sheffield Hillsborough
20052010
Constituency abolished
New constituency Member of Parliament for Penistone & Stocksbridge
2010–present
Incumbent