Stephen was born in 1966 in Enfield where he attended the local comprehensive school, Southgate. He went on to study Politics & Economics at Oxford University.
In 1990 Stephen became the president of the National Union of Students. On leaving the NUS Stephen was elected as a Councillor in the London borough of Islington.
In 1997 he defeated the then Defence Secretary Michael Portillo to win the constituency of Enfield Southgate.
He subsequently served as the Labour MP for Enfield Southgate for 8 years and was a Government Minister for 4 years between 2001-2005. He served as Deputy Leader of the House of Commons (2001-2) and as an Education Minister (2002-5).
Between 2005-2010 he worked for the Foreign Policy Centre, the Holocaust Centre and the Aegis Trust.
In 2010 he was elected as Labour and Co-operative Member of Parliament for Liverpool, West Derby with a majority of 18,467. Since his election he has served as Parliamentary Private Secretary to Harriet Harman MP and was later part of Douglas Alexander’s Shadow Foreign Affairs team. In October 2011 Stephen was appointed as Shadow Secretary of State for Education.
Stephen divides his time between his constituency and Westminster and has a flat in West Derby. He is an active constituency MP. Stephen is a Trustee of Merseyside Domestic Violence Services (MDVS), a patron of Merseyside Motor Neurone Disease Association and a patron of Amputees and Carer Support in Liverpool (ACSIL).
Stephen is also a member of the shop workers trade union Usdaw.