I am a writer and historian. I was born in London and have since lived in England and South Africa. As a school student, I was fortunate to meet Raphael Samuel of Ruskin College (the trade union college) in Oxford and the History Workshop movement. He persuaded me, without difficulty, that being a historian was a viable and exciting career. I then studied as an undergraduate at Oxford with Ross McKibbin and as a postgraduate at Sheffield with Richard Thurlow and Colin Holmes before moving to teaching posts at Nottingham Trent, Edge Hill, and then Sunderland Universities, variously in History, Politics and Sociology. My most recent academic position was as a (visiting) Professor of Sociology at the University of Johannesburg in South Africa.
Around the age of 18, with various false starts, I became an active socialist, which I remain. At university, I was active in anti-racist campaigns including the refugee-support network Close Down Campsfield and helped to found the university's then active Anti-Nazi League group. In 1994, through the latter organisation, I organised a series of activities to commemorate the life of Saied Gulied Ahmed, a refugee murdered by racists in Oxford. I have remained active in anti-racist campaigns since, not least in Brent in London in the early 2000s, where together with various friends I was part of a campaign to welcome refugees to that borough.
My long-term interest in the politics of anti-racism and anti-fascism is expressed in the content of my first published short book, which was a pamphlet dedicated to the history of anti-fascist campaigns in Oxford in the 1930s. That was published by Ruskin College (thanks to Raph Samuel's influence again). After that book, I published a number of books looking at the history of anti-fascism and anti-racism including When we touched the Sky, a history of the successful anti-racist campaigns of the 1970s and early 1980s.
For many years I was an active trade unionist. I have been a volunteer rep for NATFHE, the GMB and NUJ, and have also worked for the lecturers's union NATFHE (now UCU) and the TUC. Examples of my work for NATFHE can be seen here.
At different times, I have also been a member of the following campaigns: Anti-Nazi League, Argentine Solidarity Campaign, Committee to Defend Asylum Seekers, Campaign for Palestinian Rights, various May Day organising committees, Merseyside Against Detentions, People not Profit, the Stop the War Coalition and Unite Against Fascism.
I live in London, together with my partner and our two sons.