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Tuesday, 31 July, 2001, 14:52 GMT 15:52 UK
Baroness Jay's political progress
Baroness Jay
Baroness Jay: Was a journalist before entering politics
Margaret Jay - Baroness Jay of Paddington - was seen as one of the great successes of the Blair government in the Lords, winning respect on all sides of the Chamber.

She retired from politics at the 2001 general election to spend more time with her family.

It is thought that she inherited her political zest from her father, Lord Callaghan. He rose from minister of health to become prime minister, before taking on the mantle of deputy leader of the House of Lords.

Baroness Jay
Baroness Jay became Leader of the House of Lords in 1998
Baroness Jay also rose to prominence as leader of the Lords in the 1998 Cabinet reshuffle.

But it is not just her career that pushed her into the public eye - her personal life has also hit headlines.

She had been married for 18 years to outgoing BBC Economics editor and former ambassador Peter Jay, when she had a much-publicised affair in 1979 with Watergate journalist Carl Bernstein.

Bernstein's then wife, the screenwriter Nora Ephron, famously wrote the novel Heartburn, which was later made into a film. Ephron also later wrote the screenplay for When Harry Met Sally.

After the break-up of her marriage, the future cabinet minister married Aids specialist Professor Michael Adler.

Lady Jay, a mother of three, held various production posts with BBC television in current affairs and further education between 1965 and 1977.

TV reporter

She then worked as a reporter on BBC One's Panorama programme and Thames Television's This Week.

She went on to present the BBC Two series, Social History of Medicine, as well as being a contributor to Newsnight, Any Questions, Question Time and other current affairs programmes.

Lady Jay has worked tirelessly in the area of health - even before she became a minister.

She has been active in the Aids field, patron of Help the Aged, member of the Management Board of Positively Women, founder director of the National Aids Trust.


She was raised to the peerage in 1992, and served as an Opposition Whip in the House of Lords before Labour were elected in 1997.

When she was given the added job of minister for women after the Labour's landslide, she caused controversy in party circles by going out of her way to declare she was not "a feminist".

Once she was asked whether she was born into the old Labour establishment and had any problems with New Labour.

She replied: "No, not at all. If I had been actively involved in the Commons in the early 1980s, I would have been a moderniser then."

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See also:

31 Jul 01 | TV and Radio
Lady Jay applies for BBC post
03 Jun 00 | UK Politics
Baroness 'lied' about schooling
16 Feb 01 | UK Politics
Baroness Jay 'to quit cabinet'
18 Jul 00 | UK Politics
Lords should declare interests - Jay
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