Born and bred on the north coast of Ireland, Tommy went to Aberdeen University to study medicine in 1977. He graduated in 1982 with a degree in sociology and politics. He set off for London having been elected Vice-President of the NUS, intending to stay for a year. He stayed for eleven, working in PR and campaigns along the way. He was elected to Hackney Council in 1986 and became deputy leader four years later.
In 1993 he returned to Scotland and was appointed Assistant General Secretary of the Labour Party under John Smith. Three years later Tony Blair asked him to leave. He started the Stand Comedy Club as a hobby in 1995 and in 1998 turned it into a business. It is now a successful institution with venues in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Newcastle. It is also one of the largest venues on the Edinburgh Fringe, the world’s largest arts festival.
Tommy was very active in the Yes campaign in the two years running up to the referendum. He ran the local group in south Edinburgh and helped nationally too – he organised the Night for Scotland event at the Usher hall four days before the vote.
He is on the National Council of the Scottish Independence Convention and the board of Common Weal. A new member of the SNP he was elected as MP in the Edinburgh East constituency at the 2015 General Election. He lives in Newington with his partner Kate and cocker spaniel Henry.