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Stephen Twigg (born 25 December 1966) is a Britishmarker Labour Party politician. He served as the Member of Parliament for Enfield Southgatemarker from 1997-2005. He came to prominence by defeating the sitting member for Enfield Southgate, the Conservative Cabinet minister Michael Portillo, at the 1997 general election. Twigg was made the made Minister of State for School Standards on 16 December 2004. He then lost his seat in Parliament at the 2005 general election.

Twigg has been selected as the Labour Co-operative candidate for the Liverpool West Derbymarker constituency at the next United Kingdom general election.

Early life

Twigg was educated at Grange Parkmarker Primary School and Southgatemarker Secondary School, a comprehensive school, and at Balliol College, Oxfordmarker, where he studied Philosophy, Politics, and Economics.

He became the youngest and first openly gay president of the National Union of Students in 1990 representing the National Organisation of Labour Students (NOLS). In 1991 he was re-elected, despite failing to register his nomination for the position before the deadline; this forced NOLS delegates to vote to re-open nominations at the NUS Conference. The subsequent election was only able to take nominations from the floor of conference, but despite having a large number of opponents, many of whom stood to register their unhappiness at this process, Twigg won the ballot.

On leaving the NUS he became a councillor in the London Borough of Islingtonmarker, and was also Chief Whip, and briefly Deputy Leader. He worked for the UK section of Amnesty International and then for the National Council for Voluntary Organisations.

Political career

In the 1997 election he was elected to Parliamentmarker for Enfield Southgatemarker, the constituency in which he had been born and raised, with a majority of 1,433. There had been a massive 17.4% swing to him from his Conservative opponent, Michael Portillo. For many, Portillo losing his seat was the most iconic moment of the election; a book of the election by Brian Cathcart was titled Were You Still Up for Portillo? At his moment of victory, Twigg rolled his eyes heavenwards in a manner which eloquently expressed surprise, delight, relief and je ne sais quoi. In the Royal Festival Hallmarker in London, the scene of the party celebrations that evening, the result elicited a massive cheer, as Portillo was not only a cabinet minister, but also was widely tipped as a future leader of the Conservative Party. Twigg was forced to give up his role as general secretary of the Fabian Society following this unexpected victory in what had been regarded as a safe Conservative seat. BBC coverage of the result can be found here. Twigg was the first man to be openly gay at the time of his election to the House of Commonsmarker when he was elected at the 1997 general election: it was a close contest for this record, as just 21 minutes later Ben Bradshaw, also openly gay, was elected for Exetermarker.

In the 2001 election Twigg held the seat with an increased majority of 5,546, second place going to Conservative John Flack. Following the 2001 election, Twigg was appointed Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the House of Commons, Robin Cook, and in 2002 became a junior minister in the Department for Education and Skills. In 2004, in the government changes following the resignation of David Blunkett, he was promoted to Minister of State for school standards.

Whilst an MP he served as chairman of two All Party Parliamentary Groups - on epilepsy and on youth issues. He is a former chairman of Labour Friends of Israel.

In the 2005 election, Twigg lost his seat to the Conservative Party candidate, David Burrowes, by a margin of 1,747 votes (a swing of 8.7%). During his concession speech, Twigg claimed that he would not be the last Labour MP for Enfield Southgate.

Subsequent career

On 12 December 2005, Twigg was arrested in central London for being drunk and incapable in a public place and taken to Marylebonemarker police station. He was fined £50. Twigg commented "I had had a lot to drink and I think it [the police action] was sensible. I have no complaints whatsoever. I take full responsibility for my actions."

Twigg became chairman of Progress, an independent organisation for Labour party members, and director of the Foreign Policy Centre, a think tank which develops long-term multilateral approaches to global problems. Twigg is campaigns director of the Aegis Trust, in their educational and campaigning work against genocide. He is also a patron of the Workers Educational Association He is a trustee of the Liverpool-based domestic violence charity Chrysalis.

He has been selected as the Labour Co-operative candidate for the Liverpool West Derby constituency at the next United Kingdom general election.


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