I was born and raised in Saltcoats, in the heart of our region, and currently live in Skelmorlie. I have been championing the Labour cause here at every election since I joined the Party aged 16 years old.
I know, and care deeply about, the issues facing constituents here - the desperate need to deliver high quality jobs to our area and lift people out of poverty.
Having chaired my local CLP and represented you on the SEC for the last 6 years I believe I'm well placed to reach out to all members across the region to build an election winning team.
I was a candidate at the last Scottish Parliamentary Election in Renfrewshire North and West where we moved Labour’s position up from third to second place – the only constituency in Scotland to achieve that.
And as a leading campaigner and trade unionist I believe I have the skills and experience needed to take the fight to the SNP and be a powerful advocate for the West of Scotland, Mid Scotland and Fife on the SEC.
My Labour Party Experience
I am a sitting member of the Scottish Executive Committee and current Vice-Chair of the National Executive Committee. I have served on the SEC for 6 years. I served on the NEC from 2010 - 2016 and was re-elected again in April 2020. As a representative on the NEC I personally visited over 183 CLPs across the country to report back to and consult with Labour members.
In these roles I have chaired national party conference, sat on selection and dispute panels, organised campaigns, shaped policy development and worked with the whole range of Party stakeholders.
I have also previously served as Chair of my CLP and as a CLP Secretary for Camberwell & Peckham CLP for 13 years, as Chair of Southwark LCF, Lane ward organiser and branch secretary. During this time I played a significant role in helping Labour regain control of Southwark Council, seeing a massive growth in the vote for all our council candidates and wining all three Parliamentary Seats in Southwark for the Labour Party.
My real life experience
I am a Regional Organiser, and Head of Local Government, for UNISON Scotland. I lead negotiations on behalf of the joint local government trade unions with COSLA and the Scottish Government. During the pandemic I have been leading negotiations to protect workers on the frontline of the Covid response – shaping government policy, negotiating workplace agreements and leading the call for greater investment in Local Government. In our last round of pay negotiations I led negotiations which secured the highest pay uplift for local government workers on the lowest wages that has ever achieved in a single year settlement.
My granddad was a polish migrant and miner in Killoch pit and had a heavy influence on my values but everything I have achieved professionally and politically has been through hard graft and determination. I was the first person in my family to go to university and my working life started with a part-time job as a veterinary assistant in my school holidays.
I worked in a BT call centre to fund my way through university and it was there that I became a CWU rep, fighting for my colleagues and I to secure permanent contracts and the ability to go to the bathroom without having to put our hands up to stop the automatic dialler.
Once I finished my degree I secured a position on the TUCs Organising Academy and was seconded to work for PCS, organising for recognition in the Learning and Skills Councils. I moved to PCS HQ where I became a negotiator working with members in the Ministry of Defence and led negotiations on the Overseas Allowances for UK employed personnel.
I spent the next 13 years working for Connect (which became Prospect following a merger) where I negotiated with BT and a number of other private sector telecommunication companies.
I care deeply about workers rights and was proud to lead the call at Labour’s 2015 National Policy forum for the Party’s election manifesto to commit to abolishing the Tory-introduced Employment Tribunal fees, which have since been found to be unlawful.
I am a skilled advocate with experience of giving evidence to Parliamentary committees, managing casework and providing individual representation and advice to trade union members.
My knowledge of employment law and the challenges facing workers on the frontline have given me an understanding and appreciation of the issues facing the world of work that will help inform the debate about how we build back better post-Covid.
And my passion for the environment and the natural world has instilled in me a commitment to ensuring the recovery is a green one - I have travelled extensively, volunteered in Africa working with some of the worlds most endangered animals and have seen first-hand the damage being done to our planet.
I am an experienced public speaker who has given numerous speeches to national Party conferences, at affiliate conferences and events (the Fabian Society, Fabian Women's Network, Chinese for Labour etc).
My campaigning skills:
I am a committed campaigner who shows up for campaigning whatever the weather. As a previous Scottish Labour Parliamentary candidate, who broke her leg on the eve of the short campaign but who kept the campaign going, I believe I have demonstrated resilience and the ability to keep the Labour flag flying even in the most difficult of circumstances.
I have acted as a campaign organiser and election agent and have considerable experience of strategic campaign planning. I understand the importance of engagement with our electorate and the need to reach out beyond our base to all communities.
I like talking to people and my many years on the doorstep means I've encountered most scenarios and am rarely phased. I work with all colleagues in our CLP, on the NEC and SEC from a range of different backgrounds and all wings of the Party – always seeking to reach common cause and work with that which unites rather than divides us.
My commitment to equality and diversity:
I am passionate about creating a more equal society and know that we will only achieve that if we celebrate diversity and champion the voices of those who are so often under-represented.
I believe the recent EHRC report that found our Party had broken the very equality laws we introduced in Government was a dark day in our history. We must do everything we can to rebuild trust with the communities that were harmed by this and redouble our efforts to eradicate all forms of discrimination from both our party and our society. As an NEC member I was proud to support our Action Plan to Drive Out Antisemitism from the Labour Party, a crucial step on that journey.