Valerie Vaz

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Valerie Vaz
Shadow Leader of the House of Commons
Assumed office
6 October 2016
Leader Jeremy Corbyn
Preceded by Paul Flynn
Member of Parliament
for Walsall South
Assumed office
6 May 2010
Preceded by Bruce George
Majority 6,007 (14,4%)
Personal details
Born Valerie Carol Marian Vaz
(1954-12-07) 7 December 1954 (age 62)
Aden Colony (now Yemen)
Political party Labour
Spouse(s) Paul Townsend
Children 1 daughter
Religion Roman Catholicism[1]
Website Official website

Valerie Carol Marian Vaz[2] (born 7 December 1954) is a British politician and solicitor. A member of the Labour Party, she has served as the Member of Parliament (MP) for Walsall South since the 2010 general election.


Vaz was born in Aden, Yemen. Her family originates from Goa, India, and settled in Twickenham and then East Sheen, London.[3]

Her father worked in the airline industry, while her mother worked two jobs, as a teacher and for Marks & Spencer. Her father committed suicide when she was 16.[4] Vaz attended Twickenham County Grammar School[3] before going on to Bedford College, University of London where she completed a BSc (Hons) degree in Biochemistry in 1978.[5]

In 1984 she qualified as a solicitor[3] and subsequently worked on legal issues for local government in London. She set up her own law firm, Townsend Vaz Solicitors,[3] and has sat as a Deputy District Judge in the County Court on the Midland and Oxford Circuit.

In 2001, she joined the Government Legal Service, and worked at the Treasury Solicitors Department and the Ministry of Justice. She worked as a presenter and interviewer for the BBC TV programme Network East in 1987.[3]

Political career[edit]

Vaz was a councillor in the London Borough of Ealing from 1986 to 1990, and the council's Deputy Leader from 1988 to 1989. She stood unsuccessfully as a parliamentary candidate in the constituency of Twickenham in the 1987 general election, and in the 1999 European elections in the East Midlands. She was a contender to be selected as the Labour candidate in the 2000 West Bromwich West by-election, however she failed in her attempt.[6] She was elected in the 2010 general election, securing the Walsall South seat with a reduced Labour majority of 1,755 (8.2% swing to the Conservative Party).

In June 2010 she was selected as a Labour member of the Health Select Committee.[7] She is also Vice Chairwoman of the Labour Parliamentary Party, having been elected by fellow Labour MPs. In the Labour leadership election in 2015, Vaz was one of the 68 MPs that nominated Andy Burnham.[8] Burnham ultimately finished second in the election to Jeremy Corbyn.[9]

Personal and family life[edit]

Vaz is married to Paul Townsend.[3] The couple have one daughter.[3] Her hobbies include music and gardening.[3] Her younger brother Keith Vaz is also a Labour MP, while her sister Penny is a lawyer.[4] Her late mother Merlyn Vaz was formerly a Labour councillor in Leicester.[10]


  1. ^ Lee, Ceridwen (27 August 2015). "Fall in number of Catholic MPs in the House of Commons ahead of landmark debate on assisted dying". The Tablet. Retrieved 16 August 2016. 
  2. ^ Profile,; accessed 12 May 2015]
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h "About Valerie". Retrieved 24 May 2010. [dead link]
  4. ^ a b Laville, Sandra (2 January 2013). "Keith Vaz on Jacintha Saldanha's children: This could be me 42 years ago'". The Guardian. 
  5. ^ "Election highs for Royal Holloway alumni". Retrieved 24 May 2010. 
  6. ^
  7. ^ Jim Pickard (24 June 2010). "Westminster select committees: Labour & Tory membership". Financial Times. Retrieved 29 June 2010. 
  8. ^ "Who nominated who for the 2015 Labour leadership election?". New Statesman. 15 June 2015. Retrieved 24 October 2015. 
  9. ^ "Results of the Labour Leadership elections". The Labour Party. 12 September 2015. Retrieved 24 October 2015. 
  10. ^ Tim Walker (22 April 2010). "General Election 2010: Joanne Cash says every dog has its day". Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 26 May 2010. 

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Bruce George
Member of Parliament
for Walsall South

Political offices
Preceded by
Paul Flynn
Shadow Leader of the House of Commons