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 of a better future.
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 strikes. I’m an active member of the National Union of Journalists.
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.
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 a TV journalist 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 for hard-pressed 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 speak to forums across the world about the need for a state-led fight for social, economic and climate justice.
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 values on crime, defence and foreign policy. That’s why, when Labour lost, I was one of the first people on the left to support Keir Starmer’s leadership campaign.
In February 2022 I was in Kyiv until just 36 hours before Russia invaded, together Welsh Senedd members and the leaders of NUM and Aslef, building solidarity with the Ukrainian left and trade union movement. Since then, I’ve been at the forefront of promoting solidarity with Ukraine, and contributing to Labour’s thinking on defence, in response to the crisis.
I’m a radical social democrat: for me redistributing power is just as important as redistributing wealth. Socialism should be a project of self-empowerment, led by working class communities, from below. And it should place the rights and freedoms of individual human beings right at the heart of the project.
What I learned from the working-class community I grew up in is: everything we have, we had to fight for.