Born: Bangour Hospital, 1969
Married: Fiona, with one daughter, Chloe
Lives: Fauldhouse, West Lothian
Education: St Kentigern’s Academy, Blackburn
Further Education: West Lothian college
Higher Education: BA Geography and Politics Strathclyde University; PGCE Glasgow University
Employment history: On leaving school I was an apprentice and tradesman bricklayer with my father’s small business. On graduating from college and university, I worked as a Housing Officer then Senior Housing Officer with a Housing Association and in the Local Authority Sector. I then returned to Glasgow University where I trained to be a teacher. I worked in schools in the Falkirk area for approximately 8 years.
Voluntary work: Founding member and director of Fauldhouse Community Development Trust, former Community Councillor and member of various community organisations.
Hobbies: cooking, enjoying my garden, cycling, socialising with friends (going for a pint).
Political career: I joined the Labour Party following the Miners’ strike and during the era of the Poll Tax. I served in almost every post at a local level in a voluntary capacity. I worked very closely with Tam Dalyell during his time as MP for the Linlithgow constituency. I am a member of the EIS teaching union. I was elected to West Lothian Council in 2003 and in 2007, I topped the poll in the Breich Valley Ward election.
Parliamentary career: I was elected to the Scottish Parliament in May 2011 as an MSP for the Lothian region and re-elected in 2016.
2011-2013: Served as the Deputy Convener for the Education and Culture Committee.
2012-2013: Shadow Minister for Skills and Learning
2013- 2014: Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Health and Well-being
January 2015 - April 2015: Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Fair work, Skills and Training
May 2016 - December 2017: Chair of the Health and Sport Committee
December 2017 - Present: Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Brexit, Campaigns and Party Engagement.
Named ‘Community Politician of the Year’ at the 2015 Scottish Politician of the Year Awards.
Member of UNITE the Union, The Educational institute for Scotland and Scottish CND.
Political interests: The economy, housing, the environment, local government, community development.