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School of Politics and International Relations

Elizabeth Vallance obituary


Dr Elizabeth M Vallance, JP (Lady Vallance of Tummel), 8 April, 1945 – 9 July, 2020

Elizabeth Vallance enjoyed two quite distinct careers: first, as an academic and secondly as something of a 'Quango Queen'. She was a vibrant personality and renowned for her beauty.

A Scot, whose grandfather was the Ramsay Macdonalite Clydesider MP who was later enobled, she was born in 1945 and brought up in Glasgow and later graduated from St Andrews' with a First in philosophy and politics. She then went to LSE where she took an MSc in the same subjects and gaining a Distinction. She joined me in 1968 as an assistant lecturer teaching politics within the Economics department which had been recently formed sunder Maurice Peston. We went on to create, firstly a sub- and by 1973, a full department of Politics by which time there were five of us teaching the subject. The department was never officially planned as such, but I seized upon the opportunity to gain authorisation for its establishment. It now has over seventy staff.

I commissioned her first book and supervised her PhD which also came out as a book. Although she taught political theory and the history of political thought “from Plato to NATO”, almost all of her publications dealt with the roles of women in politics. In the end she had some seven books to her credit. She was a most conscientious colleague and some of our students became very successful in later life. They included the likes of the future Cabinet minister (Lord) Peter Hain, the billionaire co-owner of West Ham FC David Sullivan, Dame Colette Bowe, the senior civil servant and Tesco chair Sir Richard Broadbent, Professor Diane Green (later vice-chancellor of Sheffield Hallam) and Charles Rose, a highly successful entrepreneur. Elizabeth was promoted through the ranks eventually becoming a Reader and succeeding me as head of the department.

By 1988, and with her children now grown up, she decided to quit university teaching to seek her fortunes elsewhere. She joined the London Business School as a Sloan Fellow , where her husband Iain (later Lord) had attended in its first year. He was now the CEO of British Telecom, and as such was in a position to help get her involved in commerce. But she was largely very self-driven and over the next twenty and more years occupied a multitude of paid and voluntary positions. These included being a London magistrate, staying with higher education such as LSE, the London Institute of Education, and being a visiting professor at QMC. Within the NHS she became chair of St George's Hospital in Tooting, was active in many youth and mental medical bodies, and chair of three schools. She travelled widely throughout the world sometimes accompanying her husband on his business trips, visiting her son's family in California, or creating foreign links in China for Sutton Valence School. She had amazing energy and self-reliance. She would not tolerate any personal failures on her own part and the only time I saw her guard drop and brought to tears was when the external examiner required some slight amendments to her doctoral dissertation. She was invited to become the Chancellor of a northern university but had to decline because of the sudden onset of the illness that led to her most untimely death on the 9th July 2020.

I shall sorely miss her as will the many who were privileged to know her.

She is survived by her husband Iain, daughter Rachel, son Edmund and their families.

Trevor Smith (Professor Lord Smith of Clifton) 604 words





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