I was born in North Shields and became a socialist in 1979 as a volunteer in Days of Hope bookshop in Newcastle. I joined the Labour Party in 1980 and have been a member of Natfhe since 1991. I helped set up the Merseyside Museum of Labour History in 1984 (now the Museum of Liverpool Life). I was the co-editor of the US journal ‘New Politics: a journal of socialist thought’ and an editor of the UK journal ‘Historical Materialism’. My research work has focussed on the history of socialist thought and the political leadership of social movements. I co-edited ‘Leadership and Social Movements’ (Manchester University Press, 2001). I was one of the organisers of South Lakeland Stop the War group. I am a member of Westmoreland and Lonsdale Labour Party.