Born in Stockport in 1980, Angela Rayner is Shadow First Secretary of State and Deputy Leader of the Labour Party.
Before entering politics, Rayner was a Trade Union officer with UNISON and a care worker.
Rayner left school at 16 without qualifications after falling pregnant. She has since revealed that she also cared for her severely depressed mother at this time. Rayner regularly refers to her working-class background and how it influences her politics.
Deputy Leader of the Labour Party
Rayner was elected Deputy Leader of the Labour Party on 4th April 2020. Rayner won in the third round with 52.6% of party members voting for her.
Outside the Labour Party, Rayner still remains somewhat of an unknown quantity. According to YouGov Ratings data collected between July 2020 and October 2020, only 37% of the general public had ever heard of Rayner.
After first entering parliament in 2015, Rayner was quickly singled out by Parliamentarians as a passionate speaker. This may have got the better of Rayner in October 2020 when she used the word ‘scum’ in reference to Tory MP Chris Clarkson in the midst of a Commons debate. Rayner later issued a statement in which she said, ‘I apologise for the language that I used in a heated debate in Parliament earlier’.
At a late night event at the September 2021 Labour Party conference, Rayner this time described the Conservative government as “homophobic, racist, misogynistic, and a vile” and “a bunch of scum. She refused to apologise for the comments, although Labour Party leader, Sir Keir Starmer said this was not language he would use.
Rayner was first elected MP for Ashton-under-Lyne in 2015 with 49.8% of the vote. She was the first woman to represent Ashton-under-Lyne in 180 years.
Upon taking her seat in Parliament, she briefly became a member of the ‘Housing, Communities and Local government’ Select Committee, but was soon promoted to Jeremy Corbyn’s shadow team after a wave of resignations.
Angela Rayner MP became an Opposition Whip and then a Shadow Minister for the Department for Work and Pensions in January 2016 under Mr Corbyn.
After just another six months, and again after a number of further resignations, Rayner became Shadow Equalities Minister (2016) and then Shadow Education Secretary (2016-2020) within the Shadow Cabinet.
Rayner played an active role for the Labour Party in a number of televised debates during the 2019 General Election.
Rayner remained Shadow Education Secretary until 2020 when, after Tom Watson resigned as Deputy Labour Leader, she announced her candidacy for the position. She now serves as deputy to Sir Keir Starmer, and would be expected to serve as Deputy Prime Minister if the Labour Party was to win the next election.
Having initially been appointed Campaigns Chair in 2020, Rayner was very publicly moved from this position by Keir Starmer following disappointing election results in May 2021. Rayner was instead appointed Shadow First Secretary of State, shadowing Michael Gove in the House of Commons.
Although Rayner did not nominate Jeremy Corbyn in the 2015 Labour leadership election (she chose Andy Burnham), Rayner grew to be a close ally of the former leader.
Sitting within the shadow cabinet for a large portion of Corbyn’s time as Leader of the Opposition, she was viewed as part of his wing of the party.
Rayner backed Corbyn in the 2016 leadership election versus Owen Smith, and Rayner nominated Rebecca Long-Bailey (with whom she shared a London flat when working at Westminster), a fellow Corbyn ally, for the Labour leadership in the 2019 race.
As part of her campaign to become Deputy Labour Leader, Rayner promised to ‘make the case for everyday socialism rooted in people’s lives’. However, she also described herself as being on the ‘soft left’ of the party.
Following Corbyn’s resignation, Rayner became rather more critical of her former boss; saying Corbyn ‘didn’t command the respect’ as leader, and claimed she would be more ‘pragmatic’ in a senior role.
While still serving in Corbyn’s top team, Rayner was openly critical of the party‘s handling of antisemitism accusations. Rayner has said she was ‘absolutely embarrassed’ by the party‘s failure to deal with the ‘crisis’.
Rayner is a long time supporter of Palestinian rights. In 2019, she signed an Early Day Motion condemning Israeli demolitions of Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem. She likewise condemned the Palestinian killings during the ‘Great March of Return’ and she has repeatedly supported Palestinian rights on social media.
How old is Angela Rayner
Rayner was born on 28 March 1980. She was raised in a working-class family in Stockport in the 1980s. Rayner has been open about the hardships she faced as a child.
Now 40, she has said: ‘I remember I had to have steel toe caps because my nana said they’ll last and I remember being bullied because my shoes weren’t like anyone else’s’. She has also written about how she sometimes went without food, and on these occasions, pestering her mates to let her go round their houses for tea.
What did Angela Rayner do before entering Politics?
At 16, Rayner left school having fallen pregnant. Rayner‘s first job was working for Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council as a care worker for elderly people in their homes. Rayner said she went on to join a union because of the working conditions she experienced in this job. She subsequently went to work for Unison and became its convener for the north-west of England.
Rayner was featured in a 2012 Guardian series called ‘A Working Life’, which details her time as a union worker.
Rayner married Mark Rayner, a Unison official, in 2010.
Angela Rayner has three children. One of them, Charlie, was born prematurely at 23 weeks. Angela uses the care Charlie received as a mark of the importance of the National Health Service.
In 2017, Rayner announced her position as a grandmother-at the comparatively young age of 37-with the hashtag #Grangela.
Angela Rayner – 3 Things you may not know
She has studied sign Language
After having her first child, Rayner studied part-time at Stockport College where she took two courses: one on care work and the other on British Sign Language.
Her aunt died of coronavirus
On the day she called Tory MP Chris Clarkson ‘scum’ in the Commons, Rayner also announced that her aunt had died from Coronavirus. In March 2020, Rayner confirmed she had also caught the virus and was self-isolating.
She appears to like Star Wars
If her attempted purchase of some R2D2 inspired high-heels are any clue, Rayner is a Star Wars fan.
Back in 2015, Rayner hit the news for using official House of Commons notepaper to complain about the store she tried to buy these shoes from.
Twitter Handle – @AngelaRayner
Personal Website – https://www.angelarayner.co.uk/about/