As he has explained: "My mobile went off and a voice said, "It's Steve here." I pondered for a minute and said "Steve who?" Such disarming confessions go some way to offsetting the fervent loyalty the keen Blairite has shown to his leader Tony Blair.
Still just 34, Mr Lewis had an impressive career in social work and local government before entering the House in 1997. The son of a salesman, hewas educated first at William Hulme's, the private school in Manchester, leaving at 14 because his father could no longer pay the fees. He began working at 18, on a scheme for people with learning disabilities, then founded and co-ordinated a community care programme before becoming, at 25, chief executive of Greater Manchester Jewish Social Services.
He joined Labour at 19 and was elected to Bury council at 23. He has been secretary of the all-party parliamentary group on parenting, deputy chairman of Labour Friends of Israel and was on the health select committee.