International Baccalaureate, Pearson College, Canada. Master of Arts with honors, University Glasgow, Scotland, 1986. Master of Arts in Economic with distinction, University Warwick, England, 1987.
Master of Business Administration, European Institute of Business Administration (Institut Européen d'Administration des Affaires), France, 1994.
Editor Ledis, 1987—1988. Research officer Scottish Labour Party, 1988—1992, leader, since 2007. Management consultant Booz Allen & Hamilton, London, 1994—1997.
Special advisory to Donald Dewar Secretary of State, Scotland, 1997—1998. Member Scottish Parliament, Paisley North, since 1999, minister communities, 1999—2002, minister enterprise and lifelong learning, 2000—2002, minister transport, 2001—2002. Visiting professor University Strathclyde, since 2002.
Finance spokesperson Scottish Labour Party, since 2007.
Member of Transport and General Workers' Union.
Married Brian Ashcroft, December 2003. Children: Caitlin, Michael.