Scotland is my country, the nation that shaped me, that taught me my values. A nation whose achievements inspired and inspire me, a community whose failings drive me - drive my overwhelming desire to fight for social justice and equality.
I love hard political debate and I love beating somebody on a political point but what I'm more frustrated by is the politics where you play the man not the politics.
I'm pretty proud of having completed a marathon myself, so I can only imagine the pride that real athletes feel when they are picked for the Olympic or the Paralympic Games.
It's true across the U.K. that those who had least to do with causing the economic crisis are carrying the heaviest burden. That's unacceptable.
My working life has always been wrapped up in doing my job to the best of my abilities and doing the best for my family. It is not a contest between the two.
I've got a very deep and abiding passion about education being far more than buildings and textbooks; it's what children bring into school with them.
The next phase is to 2016, and yes, I want to be First Minister because I believe I have the life experience, and I've got a commitment to change.
Our task is a great one, not just because of how far we have fallen. Our task is a great one because of the challenges facing the people we seek to serve.
As a youngster, I travelled every year across the sea to Tiree. On occasion, we ventured to Skye on the Kyleakin-Kyle of Lochalsh ferry, where there is now a bridge.
I didn't particularly want to go to Westminster - not that there were many seats available or chances for women to get elected. In 1987, Labour sent down 50 MPs, and only one of them was a woman.
Fair tax does not mean we don't want to encourage wealth creation. Wealth creation is how we raise the money to pay for world class schools and hospitals, for proper care of the weak, and dignity for the elderly.
Those of us who were part of creating the Scottish parliament believe we must always test constitutional arrangements. The real test is where do the powers lie? Is it in the best interests of Scotland?
In my mind, the CalMac ferry is linked with the joy of arrival, the sadness of departure, the loss of loved ones brought home by ferry to rest in island soil. It is friendships made and a working life begun.
I remember going to see Billy Graham in a cinema in Glasgow, and he was down in London. I used to go and hear preachers, and then we always went to church and Sunday school. That mattered a lot to me.
I guess it feels to me that the political argument that has been lost in my lifetime is taxation. How do you engage in that debate when people don't trust politicians at all? It is almost impossible to start a conversation about taxation.
The idea that an independent Scotland - having separated assets and liabilities from the rest of the U.K. - would expect the rest of the U.K. to be a lender of last resort, and of course be kind to them, doesn't make any sense.
We have a government that boasts about free education. Those of us who have scratched below the surface know it is costing us by denying opportunities for others to attend college or university.
My granny would come out and stay with us in the winter, and we would listen to the reports from the coastal stations and have a discussion in the middle of Glasgow about what the weather was like in Tiree.
My uncle was skipper on the old Claymore sailing out from Oban to the Inner Hebrides. My father worked for MacBraynes all his life, on freight boats and then on ferries crossing to Skye, Barra, Uist, the small isles and Iona.
The instinct of the Labour Party is if there's a problem, change the leader, then sit back, fold your arms and wait to be disappointed because they're sure it's not going to deliver.