I was born in 1951 and brought up in Annan, Dumfriesshire where I still live with my wife Christine (far left in the picture). We have two daughters, Sarah (back left) and Gillian (back right), and four grandchildren.
In October 2010 I was proud to be appointed to Ed Miliband’s front bench team as a Shadow Defence Minister. My role as Shadow Minister for International Security Strategy involves planning the UK’s response to future threats facing the country. Defence has always been an issue close to my heart. I am in awe of our brave fighting men and women in Afghanistan and across the world. Increasingly concerning developments in Iran and North Korea and the constant terrorist threat means I am under no illusions as to the scale of role.
Before becoming an MP I worked for ICI for 23 years, where I joined the Transport and General Workers’ Union, holding various positions including Branch Secretary.
I was also Workers Convener at ICI Powfoot for six years. Infact it was my Trade Union activities that led to me to join the Labour Party in 1978. I have held the posts of Branch Secretary and Branch Chairman and Constituency Vice-Chair.
I served as a Labour Councillor for 11 years (from 1986 to 1997) and was group leader of the Labour Group up until May 1997, previously holding the posts of Group Chair and Group Secretary. As a Councillor I chaired the Regional Council Public Protection Committee from 1990 to 1994. I was also a Justice of the Peace from 1988 until May 1997.
In May 1997 I was proud to be elected as Member of Parliament for Dumfries Constituency becoming the first Labour MP for the constituency. I served on the National Minimum Wage Committee pushing through the legislation to secure Britain’s first ever minimum wage.
After being proud to serve as the MP for Dumfries Constituency for eight years, in 2005 I was elected as the first MP for the new Dumfries and Galloway seat with a majority of nearly 3,000.
At the General Election in May 2010 I was re-elected MP for Dumfries and Galloway with an increased majority of almost 7,500 and one of the biggest swings to Labour in the UK.