What or who was your inspiration for joining the Labour Party?
It may seem strange to some, but the two people who inspired me to join the party were Harold Wilson and Shirley Williams. Harold Wilson because I just thought it was great that this man stood up to all these posh Tories, and beat them with arguments about socialism. I was thrilled by it and it was the first time I had seen somebody do it. And Shirley was an unlikely figure, I always remember her being untidy, but was inspired by her determination to make things better for ordinary kids and their education.
What has been your biggest achievement as a Labour politician?
Child poverty has always been something I have passionately campaigned against and I remain proud that as communities minister I was part of a government which invested in childcare and supporting families to the extent we had lower levels of child poverty than the rest of the UK when we left office. I also consider as a great achievement being part of a team in Glasgow who took on a very tough argument over the future of Glasgow housing but ultimately unlocked £1bn worth of investment. We faced fierce opposition but it was worth it and those involved were courageous in delivering for Glasgow.
What has been your biggest achievement as an individual outwith politics?
I completed a marathon, which was a terrific personal achievement. But my main thing is bringing up two wonderful kids. I don’t know if you can call that an achievement but they bring me so much joy every day.
Why did you stand for Holyrood rather than Westminster?
I never considered becoming a politician until the advent of the Scottish Parliament. It is easy to forget what a great opportunity it was for women and I was determined that women would be represented, would have a strong voice. And I think the parliament is all the better for that equal gender split in the parliament’s beginning.
What one defining characteristic makes you a better candidate than your two rivals? Please sum it up in 140 characters (one Tweet).
I believe as a woman and as a mother I have an understanding of everyday life that informs my politics and my leadership campaign.
What should politicians do to regain their reputation?
While I was preparing my speech for my campaign launch, I asked my daughter what I should say. She just told me to tell the truth. We need to bring back an honesty to politics because people don’t believe us anymore. How can we expect people to respect us if they don’t trust us?
What would be your top priority if you were elected leader?
It’s easy, jobs and the economy, because I believe that is the top priority of the people of Scotland. We are here to reflect their views, and if that is what is keeping people up at night, we have a duty to come together as party, and ultimately as a parliament to tackle youth unemployment before it becomes a national crisis.
If Labour regained power at Holyrood, what would be your top legislative priority?
I have always championed the cause and rights of carers, for too long they have been neglected because whether they are given the appropriate support or not, they will continue to do what they do out of the goodness of their hearts. I would like to enshrine in legislation a minimum standard of support for carers that recognises we can’t do without them and they are not alone.
What should Labour do to oppose the SNP’s policy for Scottish independence?
We need to win the argument and we do that by setting out a positive vision for Scotland within the union. That’s not about positioning, that reflects my fundamental belief and its one I believe I share with the majority of Scots.
What is your vision of Scotland in 10 years’ time?
I have an ambition for a healthier Scotland, where people feel safe on their streets, where people can enjoy the right to work and where young people can achieve their potential.