In the news: Stephen Twigg

September 14, 2001

Being a rising star can be tricky. Stephen Twigg, made parliamentary secretary and deputy to the leader of the House of Commons after the last election, learnt some of the potential pitfalls this week after reports that he was a director of a student accommodation company involved in the private finance initiative.

Mr Twigg, a former National Union of Students president, and David Triesman, former head of the Association of University Teachers and Labour's new general secretary, have denied that the PFI was ever discussed at meetings they attended as directors of Victoria Management Services.

Both resigned as directors after being appointed to their new posts.

But it is a sensitive time to be branded with PFI associations when those on the left of the Labour Party are increasingly expressing reservations about public-private partnerships.

Not that Mr Twigg has ever pretended to be anything other than a Blairite. He has been a member of the Labour Party since the age of 15, despite having communist parents, and was identified by prime minister Tony Blair as a rising star even before his surprise defeat of Michael Portillo in Enfield Southgate in 1997.

He was born on Christmas Day 1966 and became the first pupil from Southgate Comprehensive to win a place at Oxford, joining Balliol College to read politics, philosophy and economics. In 1990 he became the first openly gay president of the NUS and has campaigned strongly on gay issues since.

But Mr Twigg has been less vocal on student issues, although he did tell The THES before the election that changes were needed to maintenance grants to improve access.

He is a former chief whip of Islington Borough Council and considered running for mayor of London before deciding to defend his seat again this year, returning with a doubled majority.

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