Prior to her appointment to the House of Lords, Lady Anelay held a number of senior posts in the Conservative Party organisation. She was Chairman of the Conservative Women's National Committee from 1993 to 1996. She was made OBE in 1990 and raised to Dame Commander in 1995. She was made a life peer as Baroness Anelay of St Johns in 1996.
Between May 1997 and June 2002, she served in various Opposition Front Bench posts including as an Opposition Whip and as Shadow Minister for Culture, Media and Sport. Lady Anelay was Shadow Home Office Minister from June 2002 to July 2007. In July 2007, she was appointed as Opposition Chief Whip in the House of Lords, and on 12 May 2010 was appointed Government Chief Whip in the House of Lords.
Lady Anelay is married to the leading family law and criminal barrister Richard Anelay QC, the head of 1 King's Bench Walk Chambers and a Deputy High Court Judge.