|Member of the Scottish Parliament|
for Airdrie and Shotts
|Assumed office |
7 May 2021
|Preceded by||Alex Neil|
|SNP Spokesperson for Work and Pensions|
30 September 2015 – 1 February 2021
|Preceded by||Hannah Bardell|
|Succeeded by||David Linden|
|Member of Parliament|
for Airdrie and Shotts
7 May 2015 – 24 March 2021
|Preceded by||Pamela Nash|
|Succeeded by||Anum Qaisar-Javed|
Neil Charles Gray
16 March 1986
Kirkwall, Scotland, UK
|Political party||Scottish National Party|
|Alma mater||University of Stirling|
Neil Charles Gray (born 16 March 1986) is a Scottish National Party (SNP) politician who has been the Member of the Scottish Parliament (MSP) for Airdrie & Shotts since May 2021. He was previously the Member of Parliament (MP) for the Westminster constituency of the same name from 2015 until his resignation to run for the Scottish Parliament in 2021. He was the SNP Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions from 2015 to 2021.
Gray was born and brought up in Orkney, and was educated at Kirkwall Grammar School. He graduated from the University of Stirling in 2008 with a first-class Bachelor of Arts Honours degree in politics and journalism.
Following his graduation, Gray was employed as a producer and reporter with BBC Radio Orkney from 2003 until 2008.
Gray worked as a press and research intern for the SNP parliamentary group at the Scottish Parliament. Grey was also employed by Alex Neil MSP from 2008, being appointed as constituency office manager in 2011.
The selection process for the Airdrie SNP candidacy, which Neil Gray ultimately won, was not without controversy. Former diplomat Craig Murray was nominated as a potential candidate at an Airdrie Branch meeting but did not make the final list as he failed SNP candidate vetting, whereupon he commented that "I think in both Airdrie & Shotts and in Falkirk it's evident who the party hierarchy wants to be the candidate." Former Policeman and SNP Councillor Alan Beveridge resigned from the party in February 2015 after Neil Gray was selected, claiming that there was a "climate of fear, intimidation and false allegations within the party" which were highlighted in the selection process.
In September 2016, Gray as a member of the new Joint Committee on the Palace of Westminster proposed "the Joint Committee declines to consider a draft Report until it has given full consideration to the possibility of constructing a permanent new Parliamentary building, while finding an alternative future use for the Palace of Westminster; notes that this option was included in the Pre-Feasibility Study and Preliminary Strategic Business Case published in October 2012 but was rejected by the House of Commons Commission and the House of Lords House Committee at that stage; and resolves to apply the same rigorous scrutiny to the possible construction of a new Parliamentary building as it has applied to the other options for delivering the Restoration and Renewal Programme, before making a recommendation about the best option for carrying out the works"; the committee voted 11–1 against this proposal.
In 2017, he held Airdrie and Shotts with a significantly reduced majority of 195 votes, although he did increase that in the 2019 general election to a stronger majority of 5,000 votes over the second-placed Labour candidate.
Gray has campaigned extensively in support of Roadchef employees, and former employees, who have waited over 20 years for the repayment of money wrongly appropriated by former executive Tim Ingram Hill. On 8 January 2020, he questioned the Prime Minister on the issue, receiving an assurance that the Chancellor would "discuss" the matter with him.
In November 2020, Gray announced that he would be resigning as an MP in order to try and win a seat in the Scottish Parliament at the 2021 Scottish Parliament election. On 23 March 2021, he made his final speech in the House of Commons, and was appointed Steward and Bailiff of the Manor of Northstead a day later. North Lanarkshire Council calculated that his decision to resign as an MP and trigger a by-election cost taxpayers £175,000.
On 7 May 2021, Gray was elected as the MSP for Airdrie and Shotts, finishing ahead of former Scottish Labour leader, Richard Leonard. Following his election, Gray said, as deputy convener of his the SNP's Social Justice and Fairness Commission, that a couple with two children in an independent Scotland could be guaranteed a minimum income of £37,000 annually by the state. He admitted that he had not costed the proposal.
Outside politics Gray was formerly a keen athlete, representing Scotland at 400m, until a serious knee injury ended his career in athletics.
Neil has three daughters and one son with his wife, Karlie.