He was educated at a grammar school before going on to Cambridge University where he read History at Trinity Hall.
He then became a journalist at the Newcastle Journal, before moving to London as industrial, and later diplomatic, correspondent of the Scotsman. In 1971, Tilley was elected to Wandsworth Council, where he became council leader. He was selected as Labour candidate to fight Kensington in the February 1974 and October 1974 elections, with improving results but no success.
The election was triggered by a caused by a Labour Member of Parliament"s death, Marcus Lipton.
In Parliament, he served on Labour"s opposition front bench, resigning in 1982 in opposition to the Party leadership"s stand on the Falklands War. As Member of Parliament for the Brixton area, he worked with Lord Scarman after the 1981 Brixton Riots for a better understanding of local social problems.
He proposed a bill to amend the Sexual Offences (Amendment) Acting 1976 to make rape in marriage illegal in 1983. Tilley never returned to Parliament.
Tilley subsequently worked as chief economic adviser to the London Borough of Hackney and 11 years as parliamentary secretary to the Company-operative Union.
From 2000 to 2002, he headed the parliamentary office of the Company-operative Group. Tilley"s first marriage ended in divorce, after a daughter, Cleo. They had a daughter Jo.
Tilley died of cancer in 2005.
Tilley was a founding member of the Socialist Campaign Group in 1982, but his constituency seat was abolished for the 1983 election and he was selected to fight Southwark and Bermondsey instead. An active co-operator, he wrote Churchill"s Favourite Socialist: A Life of AV Alexander, a biography of an earlier co-operative activist and Member of Parliament, created a peer for his life work, A. V. Alexander, 1st Earl Alexander of Hillsborough.
47th United Kingdom Parliament. 48th United Kingdom Parliament.