Neil Gray
Official portrait, 2021
Member of the Scottish Parliament
for Airdrie and Shotts
Assumed office
7 May 2021
Preceded byAlex Neil
SNP Spokesperson for Work and Pensions
In office
30 September 2015 – 1 February 2021
LeaderAngus Robertson
Ian Blackford
Preceded byHannah Bardell
Succeeded byDavid Linden
Member of Parliament
for Airdrie and Shotts
In office
7 May 2015 – 24 March 2021
Preceded byPamela Nash
Succeeded byAnum Qaisar-Javed
Personal details
Born
Neil Charles Gray

(1986-03-16) 16 March 1986 (age 35)
Kirkwall, Scotland, UK
Political partyScottish National Party
Children4
Alma materUniversity 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.

Early life

Gray was born and brought up in Orkney, and was educated at Kirkwall Grammar School.[1] He graduated from the University of Stirling in 2008 with a first-class Bachelor of Arts Honours degree in politics and journalism.[2]

Following his graduation, Gray was employed as a producer and reporter with BBC Radio Orkney from 2003 until 2008.[citation needed]

Political career

Gray worked as a press and research intern for the SNP parliamentary group at the Scottish Parliament.[3] Grey was also employed by Alex Neil MSP from 2008, being appointed as constituency office manager in 2011.[3]

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."[4] 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.[5][6]

Gray's Westminister portrait, 2020
Gray's Westminister portrait, 2020

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";[7] 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.[citation needed]

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.[8] On 8 January 2020, he questioned the Prime Minister on the issue, receiving an assurance that the Chancellor would "discuss" the matter with him.[9]

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.[10] On 23 March 2021, he made his final speech in the House of Commons,[11] and was appointed Steward and Bailiff of the Manor of Northstead a day later.[12] North Lanarkshire Council calculated that his decision to resign as an MP and trigger a by-election cost taxpayers £175,000.[13]

On 7 May 2021, Gray was elected as the MSP for Airdrie and Shotts, finishing ahead of former Scottish Labour leader, Richard Leonard.[14] 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.[15]

Personal life

Outside politics Gray was formerly a keen athlete, representing Scotland at 400m, until a serious knee injury ended his career in athletics.[16]

Neil has three daughters and one son with his wife, Karlie.[17][18]

See also

References

  1. ^ "Orkney man elected SNP MP for Airdrie and Shotts". The Orcadian. 8 May 2015. Archived from the original on 23 April 2019. Retrieved 25 April 2017.
  2. ^ Hardie, Warren (15 May 2015). "Trio of Stirling Alumni Elected As Part Of Nationalist Surge". Brig (University of Stirling). Archived from the original on 28 March 2019. Retrieved 25 April 2017.
  3. ^ a b Burns, Janice (14 May 2015). "Meet your new Scottish MPs: #3 Neil Gray, Airdrie & Shotts". The National. Archived from the original on 19 May 2017. Retrieved 25 April 2017.
  4. ^ Tom Gordon (28 December 2014). "Torture whistle-blower's anger at SNP 'stitch-up' after election block". Herald Scotland. Archived from the original on 30 December 2014. Retrieved 14 May 2015.
  5. ^ Andrew Whitaker (10 February 2015). "SNP councillors quit over candidacy selection row". The Scotsman. Archived from the original on 11 May 2015. Retrieved 14 May 2015.
  6. ^ "Lanarkshire councillors quit in SNP target area – BBC News". BBC News. Bbc.co.uk. 10 February 2015. Archived from the original on 20 April 2015. Retrieved 14 May 2015.
  7. ^ "Select Committee On Science And Technology" (PDF). 2016–2017. Archived (PDF) from the original on 23 May 2017. Retrieved 9 June 2017.
  8. ^ "Conduct of HMRC and the Roadchef Employee Benefits Trust". Retrieved 13 September 2019.
  9. ^ "Oral Answers to Questions - Volume 669: debated on Wednesday 8 January 2020". hansard.parliament.uk. 8 January 2020. Retrieved 8 May 2021.
  10. ^ Tonner, Judith (6 November 2020). "Neil Gray to contest Airdrie constituency at Holyrood election". Daily Record. Retrieved 24 March 2021.
  11. ^ Gray, Neil [@neilgraysnp] (23 March 2021). "This afternoon, in a debate starting at around 1.45pm I am eighth on the list and will be making my final speech to the Commons" (Tweet). Retrieved 24 March 2021 – via Twitter.
  12. ^ Sim, Philip (24 March 2021). "Neil Gray has gone from being MP for Airdrie and Shotts to the Steward and Bailiff of the Manor of Northstead". Twitter.com. Retrieved 8 May 2021.
  13. ^ Gordon, Tom (25 March 2021). "SNP flit leaves taxpayers facing £175,000 byelection bill". HeraldScotland. Retrieved 8 May 2021.
  14. ^ Tonner, Judith (7 May 2021). "HOLYROOD 2021: SNP win Airdrie and Shotts seat". Daily Record. Retrieved 7 May 2021.
  15. ^ "'Minimum income of £37,000' plan for families in independent Scotland". 26 May 2021.
  16. ^ Leftly, Mark (11 October 2016). "Neil Gray: We cannot artificially crowbar a 21st century parliament into an old palace". Politics Home. Archived from the original on 26 April 2017. Retrieved 25 April 2017.
  17. ^ "Neil Gray, Airdrie & Shotts". snp.org. Scottish National Pary. 4 September 2018. Archived from the original on 4 September 2019. Retrieved 4 September 2019.
  18. ^ Paterson, Kirsteen (7 May 2021). "Neil Gray's first job as MSP after beating Richard Leonard - the milk run". The National. Retrieved 8 May 2021.
Parliament of the United Kingdom Preceded byPamela Nash Member of Parliamentfor Airdrie and Shotts 2015–2021 Succeeded byAnum Qaisar-Javed Scottish Parliament Preceded byKaren Whitefield MSP for Airdrie and Shotts 2021–present Incumbent