Baroness Royall of Blaisdon


Jan Royall is Somerville’s Principal.

She is a Labour and Co-Operative Party politician. She served as Labour’s Chief Whip in the House of Lords in 2008, before being appointed Leader of the Lords and President of the Council and becoming a member of Gordon Brown’s cabinet in the same year. In 2010 she joined Ed Miliband’s shadow cabinet as Leader of the Opposition in the House of Lords, stepping down after the 2015 general election.

Prior to her work in frontbench politics, she was a senior adviser in the European Commission before heading its office in Wales. In 2004 she was appointed to the Lords as Baroness Royall of Blaisdon and in 2005 became a Government Spokesperson for Health, International Development, Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs.

Following a degree in Spanish and French at the University of London, Jan’s first job was importing flowers into Europe from Colombia but she soon started working in the world of politics. She spent six years working as General Secretary of the British Labour Group in the European Parliament then went to work for the Leader of the Opposition, Neil Kinnock.

After the 2010 election Jan was elected Leader of the Opposition in the Lords but stepped down in May 2015 in order to engage in other interests, as well as being an active back bencher, using the Lords to pursue issues including youth policy, higher education, women, diversity and inclusion, democratic engagement, health, the EU and foreign affairs.

Jan is a trustee, patron and active supporter of many charities and organizations including City Year, Forest of Dean and Hereford Crossroads, Artspace, Paladin National Stalking Advisory Service, the ASHA Centre and Step up to Serve. She is chair of the People’s History Museum, Pro Chancellor of the University of Bath and Vice President of the Party of European Socialists.

Jan works with governments, political parties and NGOs in many countries on democracy building, leadership, nurturing civil society and women’s empowerment.

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