My wife and I have lived in Edinburgh for over 13 years, and so I am familiar with Lothian and its issues. Poverty and inequality are all too evident.
Only independence will give us the powers to build the socially just society we all believe in.
The environment and education feature prominently in my history. I have a science education (PhD) and, apart from being an MSP, have worked in environmental research at various universities, IT in industry, educational statistics, policy and statistics for an equalities NGO. My recent employment, with Edinburgh College, focused on improving educational opportunities in areas of high deprivation. I am currently the main carer for our toddler.
Standing up for my beliefs runs in my blood. My grandfather was jailed for political activities in the 1930s, my father was an active trade unionist and my mother campaigned for educational reform.
Being an effective politician is not always easy. On the one hand, citizens expect their representatives to be people of principle, not afraid to stand up for what they believe in as individuals. On the other hand, they also vote for candidates on the basis of the parties they represent, and so expect party loyalty: there is a degree of collective responsibility if one stands on a manifesto. Furthermore, they expect them to be responsive to their particular problems and concerns.
I trust that my record, as a former MSP and activist, will show that I have navigated these occasionally conflicting forces with integrity, and that you can rely upon me to act in the long-term interests of Scotland, the people of Lothian, and the wider world.
This has been the focus of my political activity for 25 years. In order to deliver independence we must offer a radically different vision of society – one in which the influence of multinational corporations and the very rich is greatly reduced, and in which we do not act aggressively towards other nations. We should not be shy to speak truth unto power.
I am proud to have considerable experience of winning votes from the Labour Party. I have stood in some of its safest seats and consistently gained good results.
1989. Joined SNP.
1997. Stood against Donald Dewar (Glasgow Anniesland) in Westminster elections.
1999, 2003. Contested Glasgow Maryhill in Scottish Parliamentary elections.
2001. Chair of SNP's Glasgow Regional Association.
2003. Challenged John Swinney for party leadership, arguing that SNP was neither pushing independence hard enough nor following an agenda for social reform.
2005. Stood in Westminster elections for Paisley and Renfrewshire North.
2007. Elected MSP for West of Scotland region (stood for West Renfrewshire).
2011. Stood on Lothians list for Scottish Parliamentary elections.