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Lord Triesman of Tottenham

Honorary Doctorate of Law


Lord Triesman of Tottenham was born in London and educated at the Stationer's Company School. As an economics student at the University of Essex during the heady days of the late 60s, he was briefly suspended for his part in breaking up a meeting addressed by Dr Inch, a scientist from the government's defence research base at Porton Down. The suspension proved something of a cause celebre: after a week of protests by students and staff, the then David Triesman and his fellow protesters were reinstated. Nothing daunted by the experience, he joined a sit-in protest for increased student rights following a visit to the campus by the controversial politician Enoch Powell.

Having graduated with a masters degree from Essex, David moved on to the slightly more sedate surroundings of King's College Cambridge where he became a lecturer and – subsequently – a visiting fellow in economics, a position he still holds.

In 1984, David took up his first full-time union post at the National Association of Teachers in Further and Higher Education. In 1993 he became General Secretary of the Association of University Teachers, before moving to become General Secretary of the Labour Party in 2001, reflecting his lifelong commitment to and support for the party. This was followed by a move into government, initially as a Whip, then subsequently at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and later at the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills, becoming the country's first Minister for Students. Speaking at the time, he said, 'Students are the best placed to tell government what's going right in the system and what needs to be done better. We need students to tell us how higher education if working for them.'

In January 2004, David was made a life peer, becoming Lord Triesman of Tottenham – a clue as to where his other great passion lies. An ardent Spurs fan and long-time season ticket holder, Lord Triesman was a keen amateur footballer and spent eight years as a senior referee for the London and Middlesex football associations. He recently became a patron of the Tottenham Hotspur Foundation, which runs community and education projects in North London and in Africa. "Our aim is to provide half a million sporting opportunities each year," he says. "We're making a real difference to children's and young people's lives."

In 2008, Lord Triesman became the first independent chairman of the Football Association. Living up to his reputation for controversy, his first keynote speech delivered in October 2008 reflected his training as an economist, focusing on the enormous debts run up by many of England's most successful teams and calling for a proper assessment of the risks. Unpopular though the speech was at the time, Lord Triesman has stuck to his guns – and, in the light of the recent economic downturn – been vindicated. 'If you think something is significant and you sit on it and then say afterwards, I knew that was a problem" people don't take you seriously," he says. "I'd far rather be involved in the discussion and have some impact on them than sit on the sidelines."

Now, as leader of England's 2018 World Cup bid, Lord Triesman faces one of the biggest and most high profile challenges of his career.

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