Smith was a Minister of State in the Cabinet Office, incorporating the offices of Minister for the Third Sector and Minister for Social Exclusion. She was created a Life Peeress in 2010 and became Leader of the Opposition in the House of Lords in May 2015.
Smith attended Pitsea Junior School and Chalvedon Comprehensive (later Chalvedon School) in Basildon, before reading Public Administration at Leicester Polytechnic, where she graduated as BA. In 1978, she married Nigel Smith, who has written a number of history books for Key Stage 3 and Key Stage 4.
From 1982 to 1983, Smith was a trainee accountant with the London Borough of Newham. She then worked for the League Against Cruel Sports from 1983 to 1995, becoming the head of Political and Public Relations. She was a political researcher from 1995 to 1997.
Smith was a member of Essex County Council from 1989 and a member of the Fire Authority for the County of Essex.
Having previously contested Southend West in the 1987 General Election, Smith was selected to stand for election for Labour a decade later through an all-women shortlist. She was elected for the seat of Basildon at the 1997 general election, replacing the Conservative MP David Amess, who had moved to contest the neighbouring seat of Southend West. She was re-elected in 2001 and 2005, but after the Basildon seat was abolished, she lost the new South Basildon and East Thurrock seat to Stephen Metcalfe in 2010.
In December 1997 Smith introduced the Private Member's Bill to minimise waste generation, and was successful in negotiating its passage through Parliament to become the Waste Minimisation Act 1998.
Smith was appointed a Government Whip in 2001, before being promoted to Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Northern Ireland in October 2002. In 2006 she was moved to the Department for Communities and Local Government, with responsibility for Fire Services.
On 28 June 2007, Smith was appointed as a Parliamentary Private Secretary to the new Prime Minister Gordon Brown, entitling her to attend Cabinet. She gave up this role at the reshuffle of June 2009, to enter Government in the Cabinet Office at the rank of Minister of State, when she was sworn of the Privy Council.
Smith was created a Life Peeress as Baroness Smith of Basildon, of Basildon in the County of Essex, on 7 July 2010, following the 2010 Dissolution Honours List. She was introduced into the House of Lords the next day.
In the Lords, Smith was Labour Spokeswoman for Energy and Climate Change from 2010 to 2013, Northern Ireland from 2011 to 2012 and the Home Office from 2012 to 2015. She also served as Opposition Deputy Whip in the House of Lords from 2012 to 2015. On 27 May 2015, Smith was elected unopposed as Labour's Leader in the Lords, and so joined Harriet Harman's Shadow Cabinet.
In June 2009 Smith had to repay over £1,000 for wrongly claimed Council Tax expenses and service charges for her second property in Elephant and Castle. A review by Sir Thomas Legg uncovered further monies over-claimed by Baroness Smith making a total of £1,429 which she later returned.1959–1978: Ms Angela Evans
1978–1997: Ms Angela Smith
1997–2009: Ms Angela Smith
2009–2010: The Rt Hon. Angela Smith
2010: The Rt Hon. Angela Smith
2010–: The Rt Hon. The Baroness Smith of Basildon
An active supporter of animal welfare, Smith is a Patron of the Captive Animals Protection Society, a charity campaigning for an end to the use of animals in circuses, zoos and the exotic pet trade.