Steve Bassam, Baron Bassam of Brighton

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The Right Honourable
The Lord Bassam of Brighton
Opposition Chief Whip of the House of Lords
Assumed office
11 May 2010
Leader Harriet Harman
Ed Miliband
Preceded by The Baroness Anelay of St Johns
Chief Whip of the House of Lords
Captain of the Honourable Corps of Gentlemen-at-Arms
In office
3 October 2008 – 11 May 2010
Prime Minister Gordon Brown
Preceded by The Baroness Royall of Blaisdon
Succeeded by The Baroness Anelay of St Johns
Personal details
Born (1953-06-11) 11 June 1953 (age 61)
Great Bentley, Essex, England, UK
Political party Labour Co-operative
Alma mater University of Sussex
University of Kent

John Steven Bassam, Baron Bassam of Brighton, PC (born 11 June 1953) is a British Labour and Co-operative politician and member of the House of Lords.


Bassam grew up on a council estate in Great Bentley, Essex and went to the local County High School (now Colbayns) in Clacton-on-Sea. He then went to study at the University of Sussex and University of Kent, where he received a Masters in social work, Bassam began his career as a social worker at Camden London Borough Council. He moved on to other roles in local government, serving as Head of Environmental Health and Consumer Affairs at the Association of Metropolitan Authorities, later Local Government Association 1988–97.[citation needed]

He was also a squatter during his early years in Brighton, where he founded the Squatters Union which campaigned for the rights of squatters to accommodate empty properties and improve the conditions of the squats.[1]

Political career[edit]

Bassam became involved in local politics and was elected a Brighton councillor. He rose to become Leader of Brighton, then Brighton and Hove Council, from 1987 until 1999. He stood unsuccessfully for Parliament in Brighton Kemptown at the 1987 general election against the Conservative MP Andrew Bowden.

On 3 November 1997, he was created a life peer as Baron Bassam of Brighton, of Brighton in the County of East Sussex, and was introduced in the House of Lords on 18 November,[2] sitting on the Labour benches.

He was promoted to the frontbenches as Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Office in 1999. In 2001, he was appointed a Lord-in-Waiting (Government whip in the Lords). He served in that role and as Government spokesman for the Home Office until 2008. During the same period he served at various times as Government spokesman for a number of other departments: Lord Chancellor's Department 2001–04, Cabinet Office 2001–07, Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (subsequently Communities and Local Government) 2002–04, 2005–07, 2008, Attorney General's Office 2005–08, Transport 2007–08, Culture, Media and Sport 2008. In 2008, he was promoted to the role of Labour Chief Whip, and therefore Government Chief Whip and Captain of the Honourable Corps of Gentlemen-at-Arms.[3] On 8 July 2009 he was made a Privy Councillor.[4] When Labour moved into Opposition in 2010, he became Opposition Chief Whip.

In December 2011 and January 2012 Bassam engaged in a vigorous debate on Twitter with Brighton and Hove Greens about budget cuts by the council's Green administration.[5]


  1. ^ Hove MP calls for end to 'squatter rights', BBC News, 2010-09-19, retrieved 2013-12-26 
  2. ^ House of Lords Journal, vol. 231, Tuesday 18 November 1997. Retrieved 11 May 2012.
  3. ^ "Lord Bassam of Brighton". House of Lords Information Office. Retrieved 11 May 2012. 
  4. ^ "Orders Approved at the Privy Council Held by the Queen at Buckingham Palace on 8th July 2009". Privy Council Office. Retrieved 11 May 2012. 
  5. ^ "Bassam v Greens". Retrieved 10 February 2012. 

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
The Baroness Royall of Blaisdon
Chief Whip in the House of Lords
Succeeded by
The Baroness Anelay of St Johns
Captain of the Honourable Corps of Gentlemen-at-Arms