Michael Clapham was born on 15 May 1943 in Darton, West Riding of Yorkshire.
He was educated at the Darton Secondary Modern School on Churchfield Lane (now Darton High School) and the Barnsley Technical College.
After leaving school in 1958, he worked as a coal miner for 12 years before he returned to education at Leeds Polytechnic, where he received a Bachelor of Science degree with honours in Sociology in 1973. He earned a Postgraduate Certificate in Education at the University of Leeds in 1974, and a Master of Philosophy at the University of Bradford in 1990.
In 1974, he lectured in trade union studies at the Whitwood College in Castleford (now the Whitwood Campus of Wakefield College), before joining the National Union of Mineworkers in 1977 as a claims officer. He then became the NUM's head of industrial relations in 1983, the position he held for the duration of the miners' strike of 1984-1985, and the role he stepped down from on his election to the House of Commons in 1992. He used to be very loyal to his old boss Arthur Scargill, but later criticised him for being too Stalinist.
Clapham was the treasurer of the Barnsley West and Penistone Constituency Labour Party after 1983. He was elected as MP for Barnsley West and Penistone at the (10 April) 1992 General Election following the retirement of Allen McKay, holding the seat for Labour with a majority of 14,504. He made his maiden speech, speaking on the concerns in the local coal mining industry, on 6 May 1992.
Clapham was a left-wing politician and a member of the Socialist Campaign Group (a left-wing, democratic socialist grouping of Labour Party MPs within the House of Commons), rebelling against the government on various issues. He was a member of the Trade and Industry Committee from 1992 to 1997 and again from 2004-2007 (this was a select committee of the House of Commons whose remit it was to examine the expenditure, administration and policy of the Department of Trade and Industry); in between he was Parliamentary Private Secretary to Alan Milburn (Minister of State at the Department of Health) following the 1997 general election, but he resigned over Harriet Harman's decision to cut lone parent benefits in December of that year. From Nov 2007 to Apr 2008 he was a member of the Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Committee, from Apr 2008 to Oct 2009 he was a member of the Business and Enterprise Committee, and from Oct 2009 to May 2010 he was a member of the Business, Innovation and Skills Committee. During his political career he was also a member of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, Chair of the All-Party Occupational Safety and Health Group, Chair of the All-Party Coal Fields Communities Group, Vice-Chair of the All-Party Fire Safety Group and a member of the North Atlantic Assembly.
Michael Clapham's work with the Department of Trade and Industry (which later became the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform) heavily involved Coalclaims (Coal Health Claims) which is the collective name for two compensation schemes run by the government through the Department of Trade & Industry. These schemes exist to compensate coal miners and their families in relation to respiratory disease and Vibration white finger (VWF). The claims are processed for the government by Capita (formerly Aon IRISC who sold the IRISC part of their operation to Capita in 2004).
His voting record shows him to be against many of Tony Blair's controversial policies, including ID cards, student top-up fees and the Iraq war. Details of Mick Clapham's voting behaviour can be found on the website www.theyworkforyou.com.
Clapham announced he would stand down at the 2010 general election, when his constituency of Barnsley West and Penistone became part of the new constituency of Penistone and Stocksbridge.
Clapham is a Patron of the British Humanist Association, a supporter of Republic (a campaign to replace the British monarchy), an Honorary Vice-President of the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health, and he has been an officer of the Campaign for Nuclear Dissarmament.
He has been married to Yvonne Hallsworth since 1965 and they have a son and a daughter.