Since the ministerial reshuffle last week, comments I made in blog posts from more than a decade ago have been the subject of much discussion.
I have been called a number of things – names I would never have associated myself with and beliefs I do not hold.
However, I fully understand that people have been offended by some of the language I used in 2007, especially when they are read out separately from the rest of the text and taken out of context from the original blog posts.
I started the blog in 2004 because I enjoyed writing. At that time my posts were read primarily by family and friends.
Over the years, other people started to read the blog too and in 2012, when I became involved with local politics, I was writing more pieces about current affairs and less about my own personal experiences.
As I campaigned as a candidate for the Aberdeenshire East constituency, some of my older posts were published in a national newspaper. I immediately, fully and publicly apologised for any offence caused.
In seeing some quotes lifted from long forgotten posts, I also realised, to my shame, that I had once used language that was inappropriate, particularly to trans people.
I therefore wrote to Stonewall, who campaign for the equality of lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people across the country, to apologise.
I am thankful that, after opening up a dialogue with them, they were compassionate and understanding. I thanked them then for that support and again last week when they spoke up to publicly endorse my latest apology.
I would not use that language now and should not have then.
Last week, my deleted blogs surfaced once more when I was under consideration for a ministerial position.
One of these described the summer I was a waitress in a New Orleans bar and restaurant in 1990, when I was 21.
Part of the story described comments made to me by colleagues.
I was told that in order to stop the waiters fighting over the best tipping customers they had to have a rota system in place.
Staff relied on tips and were vocal about the tables they preferred to serve and those preferences were explained to me in stark racial terms – descriptions which shocked me at the time too.
Terms recounted in my blog were read out, without context, by Conservative MSP Jackson Carlaw in the Scottish Parliament.
That these quotes will always be out there and continually worthy of apology, I understand.
I will apologise every time they come up, and I’ll be genuine in that because I can’t bear discrimination – whether it takes the form of racism, transphobia, sexism or intolerance.
It is regrettable that my writing skills could not always convey my aversion to such discrimination, but I hope that my actions have and always will.
I will continue to serve as the MSP for Aberdeenshire East, giving my all to the job that is the greatest privilege of my life.