Paul was born at Stobhill Hospital in Springburn on 16 January 1989. His mum, Anne is a bank worker and his dad, Gordon was a shipyard worker. He was brought up in Auchinairn and Milton in the north of the city. He has a younger brother, Mark, who works as a plasterer.
Paul attended St. Matthew’s Primary School and Turnbull High School in Bishopbriggs. The only member of his family to attend university, he studied at the University of Stirling, gaining a Certificate of Higher Education with Distinction in Economics and Political Science, before continuing his degree at the University of Glasgow, where he graduated with a First Class MA (Hons) in Economic History and Political Science in 2011.
At the age of 17, Paul joined the Army Reserve, initially serving in the Royal Signals, before transferring to the Royal Regiment of Scotland. He was one of only three Labour MPs to have served in the Armed Forces.
After undertaking an internship with BAE Systems at Portsmouth Naval Base as an undergraduate, Paul joined the company’s graduate development programme in 2011, based at the Govan and Scotstoun shipyards on the Clyde, where he undertook a series of roles in production engineering and shipbuilding operations management on the Type 45 destroyer, Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carrier and Type 26 frigate programmes.
At the end of 2015, Paul joined the national economic development agency Scottish Enterprise as a senior executive, working with the leadership of companies across the defence, marine, shipbuilding, aerospace and engineering sectors based in Scotland. In April 2016, he was elected as a Council Member of the Institution of Engineers and Shipbuilders in Scotland (IESIS). Paul became a member of the Unite and GMB trade unions while working at the shipyards, later joining PCS at Scottish Enterprise.
MP for Glasgow North East
Paul has been a member of the Labour Party and the Co-operative Party since he was a student in 2008. In the 2017 general election he stood for Glasgow North East where he won the seat back for Labour from the SNP on a 12% swing, overturning the previous electoral swing for the constituency, which had been the largest in UK electoral history. The seat and its predecessors had previously been held by Labour MPs since 1935. Paul was the second youngest Labour MP in Parliament at the time of his election.
In July 2017, Paul was appointed by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn as the Shadow Under-Secretary of State for Scotland. He made his maiden speech to the House of Commons on 13 July 2017, during which he expressed his opposition to Tory austerity policies that had led to a fall in living standards.
In November 2018, Paul won ‘Best Scot at Westminster’ in the annual Scottish Politician of the Year awards, in part in recognition for his lobbying of the Home Secretary and Prime Minister in asylum cases such as that of Giorgi Kakava, a 10-year-old orphan who had been threatened with deportation following the death of his mother.
Paul has played a leading role in a series of high-profile campaigns in Glasgow. These have included a community-based campaign against council service cuts which threatened the future of Whitehill Swimming Pool in Dennistoun, and had caused the closure of the People’s Palace. He helped deliver justice for hundreds of local residents in Balornock who were mis-sold Green Deal products by rogue traders, and led a valiant campaign with the Unite trade union to save 200 jobs and over 160 years of railway engineering at the St. Rollox ‘Caley’ Railway Works in Springburn during 2019.
MSP for Glasgow
In 2021, Paul returned to frontline politics when he was elected as one of four Labour MSPs elected on the Glasgow Regional List.
Paul was appointed to serve as the Labour's Shadow Public Finance and Employment Minister in the Scottish Parliament.
Paul also has an interest in built heritage and architectural issues in Glasgow. He is a board member of the Glasgow City Heritage Trust, a member of the Glasgow Building Preservation Trust and has led award-winning walking tours of Springburn Park as part of the Glasgow Doors Open Days Festival for several years. He was also involved in the restoration of the historic former Govan shipyard head offices into the Fairfield Heritage Centre, for which he won an award. After campaigning against the demolition of Springburn Public Halls in 2012, he founded the Springburn Winter Gardens Trust, which is working to restore the largest glasshouse in Scotland as a new events venue for the north of Glasgow.