As a young girl, Peggy Garnett attended St Paul's Girls' School in London, where she befriended Shiela Grant Duff. She went up to Somerville College, Oxford in 1931, but left two years later to marry Douglas Jay. Joining the Labour Party, she was recruited by Herbert Morrison to be a candidate for the London County Council (LCC); from 1934, she represented Hackney South, then Battersea South, and finally Battersea North. Later, she was elected to the new Greater London Council before losing her seat in 1967.
She left the Labour Party in 1981 for the newly formed Social Democratic Party, not returning until shortly before her death. She was the last survivor of the "Hampstead middle-class Labour grandes dames" whom Morrison had groomed to take over the LCC.
She married politician Douglas Jay in 1933, aged 20. They had four children, but the marriage ended in divorce. A son, Peter Jay, is a leading economist and a former British Ambassador to the United States, and a son-in-law is Rupert Pennant-Rea, a former deputy Governor of the Bank of England.
Her niece is Virginia Bottomley, Baroness Bottomley of Nettlestone, a Conservative politician and life peer. Her nephew is Lord Hunt of Chesterton, and her great-nephew is Tristram Hunt, former Shadow Secretary of State for Education and now Director of the Victoria and Albert Museum.
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