He trained as an accountant in Glasgow and has worked for housing associations and a nursing home company. He also spent 3 years in Nepal with a development organisation representing churches from all over the world.
On his return from Nepal he joined the Scottish National Party as he had become increasingly convinced that Scotland would do best by being an independent country again. He was elected as the Councillor for Garrowhill in 1998 and again in 1999 and 2003. In 2007 he was elected as one of the councillors in the multi-member ward of Baillieston.
The surprise Westminster by-election in July 2008 saw John elected as the first SNP MP for what had traditionally been seen as the safe Labour seat of Glasgow East. At Wesminster he was the SNP’s spokesperson on Work and Pensions. He served on the public bill committees for the Welfare Reform and Equality Bills.
In August 2010 John was selected as the SNP candidate for the new Glasgow Shettleston Scottish Parliamentary constituency. From summer 2010 to March 2011 he worked as a volunteer for Glasgow City Mission and Parkhead Citizen’s Advice Bureau. He was elected as the MSP for Glasgow Shettleston on 5th May 2011 with a 12.6% swing from Labour to the SNP.
In Holyrood, John serves as the Deputy Convener of the Scottish Parliament’s Finance Committee. He is also a member of the Equal Opportunities Committee.
John is currently campaigning on a number of important local issues in the East End including the need for more housing, better regulation of the Bellgrove Hotel and making sure local folk benefit from the Commonwealth Games.
As Glasgow Shettleston’s MSP, John deals with hundreds of letters and emails from constituents every week. He has a dedicated staff of 3 people to assist him with this work. The issues raised are wide ranging and can fall within the responsibility of the UK and Scottish Governments or Glasgow City Council, as well as a number of the agencies. In addition, he holds regular surgeris where constituents can see him to discuss political issues or matters of personal concern.
John lives in a flat on Sandaig Road in Barlanark, and spends as much time as possible regularly visiting local schools, businesses and voluntary organisations.
Outwith politics, John’s other interests include involvement in Easterhouse Baptist Church, walking and camping, and watching Clyde FC where he is a season ticket holder.