Early lifeBorn as Margaret Ann Brown, the daughter of a Royal Air Force officer, in Inverness, she attended Nairn Academy; the Bodmin County Grammar School (closed in 1973); Bushey Grammar School (became the comprehensive Queens' School when it merged with Alexandra School in September 1969) and the Polytechnic of South Bank, London (where she was awarded a BSc in Sociology in 1967, and was elected vice president of the students' union).
She attended Walsall College of Education (where she received a PGCE in 1971 and qualified as a teacher; and University of Manchester where she obtained her MSc in Psychiatric social work.
She began her career as a trainee social worker with the Walsall Social Services in 1971. In 1972 she became a social worker with the Birmingham City Council, moving to Gwynedd County Council in 1973 and the Metropolitan Borough of Wolverhampton in 1974, then to the Metropolitan Borough of Stockport in 1975, moving once more in 1982 to the Cheshire County Council. In 1988 she became the fostering team leader with the Metropolitan Borough of Oldham until her election to parliament.
Parliamentary careerPolitically, Coffey was elected as a councillor to the Stockport Borough Council in 1984 and became its Labour group leader 1988-92, stepping down from the council in 1994. She contested the parliamentary seat of Cheadle at the 1987 General Election she finished in third place some 25,000 votes behind the sitting Conservative MP Stephen Day. She was selected to contest the Conservative held marginal Stockport constituency at the 1992 General Election and she defeated the sitting Conservative MP Tony Favell by 1,422 and has remained the MP there since. She made her maiden speech on 12 May 1992.
In her first term in Parliament, Coffey served initially as a member of the trade and industry select committee until she was promoted by Tony Blair to become an Opposition whip in 1995 and became an Opposition health spokeswoman in 1996. When Labour won the 1997 General Election, Coffey was appointed as Parliamentary Private Secretary (PPS) to the Prime Minister Tony Blair. In 1998, she became PPS to the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Alistair Darling and has remained his assistant since, from 2002-6 in his capacity as the Secretary of State for Transport, and since 2006 as Secretary of State for Trade and Industry. Coffey is as of the resignation of Tony Blair as Prime Minister on 28 June 2008, the Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, The Rt Hon. Alistair Darling MP.
Coffey voted for the military intervention in Iraq in 2003 and for the ban on fox hunting.