Fortunately, she did not go into crime, but some of her peers wish she had not gone into politics either. In a 1996 poll of 100 MPs, she was voted bottom of the 1992 intake.
Her commitment to the party and to the basic principles of social justice have never been questioned by other Labour MPs, but her delivery left much to be desired; many felt her severe presentation endeared her neither to the public nor to her colleagues.
Ms Jackson was born to working-class parents in Birkenhead, Merseyside, in 1936; her father was a bricklayer and her mother a charlady. She was educated at West Kirby Grammar School for Girls, where she discovered a passion for acting which led her to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and a career crowned with Oscars for the films Women In Love in 1971 and A Touch of Class in 1974.
Class, however, has been an element absent from her political career. Her performance at the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions has been lacklustre - stifled, some observers say, by John Prescott's penchant for making all the important decisions and announcements.
As a London (Hampstead and Highgate) constituency MP, she is regarded as earnest and conscientious - a reputation that could stand her in good stead in a mayoral fight.
Ms Jackson said last night: "I have tendered my resignation from Government, which the Prime Minister has been gracious enough to accept. I am officially announcing that I will be throwing my hat firmly in the ring to be Labour's candidate for mayor of London."
Her resignation clears the way for her to challenge Ken Livingstone, who headed the Greater London Council abolished by Margaret Thatcher's Conservative government, for the Labour nomination.
If she were to beat Mr Livingstone to be mayor of London, she would be regarded in his household as something of a jinx; in 1990 the person she beat to take the Labour nomination for her north London seat was Kate Allen, Mr Livingstone's partner.Reuse content