I was born in Leigh, Lancashire, to a family that had been miners and tailors for generations. I was the first person in my family to go to university – in Sheffield, where I joined the Labour Party in 1979.
So my story is a Labour story. It happened because the post-war Labour government gave my Mum and Dad the chance to dream of a better future, and to make it happen.
I’ve always been active in the struggle for social justice – from the Miners’ Strike through to Black Lives Matter, Ukraine Solidarity and supporting today’s cost-of-living strikes. I’m an active member of the National Union of Journalists. I have always stood alongside workers in struggle, and always will.
My strategy for achieving progress is: to link the struggles of working people together, to tell a story of hope and to mobilise a broad coalition of progressive voters to achieve real change.
That’s what I did in 2019, during the campaign for a People’s Vote on the Tories hard Brexit proposals. And that’s why, straight after Labour’s election defeat in 2019, I supported Keir Starmer’s plan to turn our party around.
For me, the most important political challenge today is reversing climate change, through a radical green investment plan to create jobs, energy security and more liveable communities. At the same time we have to defend democracy, and the security of our democratic allies, against far-right parties and the totalitarian states that stand behind them.
As economics editor at BBC Newsnight, and later at Channel 4 News, I reported on struggles against exploitation and injustice across the world – from strikes by China’s migrant workforce, to the Arab Spring and the 2014 war in Gaza – to the fight for dignity and respect by working class communities here in the UK.
In 2016 I quit TV news so that I could oppose Brexit and support Labour openly. Today I write for The New European, Frankfurter Rundschau and Social Europe – and I’m a UK champion for the global campaign for a Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty. In February 2022 I was in Ukraine, working with Labour politicians, and trade union leaders, to establish concrete solidarity in the face of Russian aggression – and I have not stopped trying to do so since.
During the current Gaza crisis I have fought consistently for de-escalation, advocating a sustained ceasefire, criticising breaches of the laws of war by Israel, while standing four-square behind its right to defeat Hamas and liberate the hostages. I support Labour’s plans for a Two State Solution, and want our party in government to play a central role in making that happen fast.
The 2019 election taught me that we only win when we listen. We need to combine the offer of economic, social and climate justice with traditional Labour policies on crime, defence and foreign policy. We need, above all, to make sure the voices of local people are heard through local democracy – whether it’s on air quality, fuel poverty, utility bills or the cost of housing.
For me redistributing power is just as important as redistributing wealth. Socialism should be a project of self-empowerment, led by working class communities. And it should place the rights and freedoms of individual human beings right at the heart of the project.
I’ve lived in central London since 1988, but what I learned from the working-class community I grew up in is: everything we have, we had to fight for.