Alex Neil (politician)

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Alex Neil
Alex Neil, Minister for Housing and Communities (2).jpg
Cabinet Secretary for Social Justice, Communities and Pensioners' Rights
Assumed office
21 November 2014
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon
Preceded by Office created
Cabinet Secretary for Health and Wellbeing
In office
5 September 2012 – 21 November 2014
First Minister Alex Salmond
Preceded by Nicola Sturgeon
Succeeded by Shona Robison
Member of the Scottish Parliament
for Airdrie and Shotts
Assumed office
6 May 2011
Preceded by Karen Whitefield
Majority 2,001 (8.4%)
Member of the Scottish Parliament
for Central Scotland
In office
6 May 1999 – 6 May 2011
Preceded by new parliament
Personal details
Born (1951-08-22) 22 August 1951 (age 63)
Patna, East Ayrshire, Scotland
Political party Scottish National Party
Alma mater University of Dundee
Occupation Businessman, Economic consultant
Religion Christian

Alex Neil (born 22 August 1951) is a Scottish politician, currently serving as the Cabinet Secretary for Health and Wellbeing and the Scottish National Party Member of the Scottish Parliament for Airdrie and Shotts.



Born in Patna, Ayrshire into a mining family, he became involved in Labour politics, joining the Labour Party in the mid-1960s. He served as chairman of both the Scottish Organisation of Labour Students and later the UK wide National Organisation of Labour Students. After graduating from the University of Dundee with a degree in economics he became the Senior Researcher for the Labour Party in Scotland.

Scottish Labour Party (1976) and SNP[edit]

In 1976, he, along with Jim Sillars MP and John Robertson MP left the Labour Party's Scottish branch to form the breakaway group, Scottish Labour Party (SLP). By 1979 the SLP had collapsed and Neil fell out of active politics until 1985 when he joined the Scottish National Party (SNP).

Neil would go on to become the SNP's Publicity Director, and then in charge of the party's policy, as well as a candidate in the 1989 Glasgow Central by-election and candidate in the Kilmarnock and Loudoun constituency in both the 1992 and 1997 General Elections.

Member of the Scottish Parliament[edit]

In 1999 he was elected SNP regional list MSP for Central Scotland in the first Scottish Parliament.

The following year he stood unsuccessfully for the leadership of the SNP against John Swinney in a hard fought contest. Thereafter he was appointed chair of the Scottish Parliament's Enterprise and Lifelong Learning Committee, a role he kept on until 2003.

Neil is on the left of the SNP, and is known as a fundamentalist, critical of the gradualist wing.

In 2003 he was re-elected as SNP MSP for Central Scotland to the Scottish Parliament.

In July 2004, Neil announced that he would not be a candidate in the impending contest for the leadership of the SNP, despite the fact that he believed he had considerable support within the party. He said that the reason for his decision was that senior figures in the party (such as MSP Fergus Ewing and former SNP leader Alex Salmond) had made it clear publicly that they would not work with him as leader.

In 2004 Neil was appointed chair of the Enterprise and Culture Committee. He was also a co-convenor of the Scottish Parliament's Cross-Party Group on the Scottish Economy.

Neil emerged as a leading supporter of former policewoman Shirley McKie as she bid to win compensation from the Scottish Government following her acquittal from perjury charges.

He was again re-elected as a regional MSP for Central Scotland in 2007. He sat on the European and External Relations Committee and the Finance Committee from 2007–2009, upon his promotion to Scottish Minister.

Scottish Minister[edit]

In the first reshuffle of the SNP Government since it took office in 2007, Neil was appointed as the Minister for Housing and Communities in February 2009.[1] He was promoted to Cabinet by Alex Salmond to become the new Cabinet Secretary for Infrastructure and Capital Investment after the SNP's landslide win in the 2011 Scottish election.

He was moved from that post to the post of Cabinet Secretary for Health and Wellbeing in September 2012. After Nicola Sturgeon became First Minister of Scotland in November 2014, Alex Neil was appointed to the new post of Cabinet Secretary for Social Justice, Communities and Pensioners' Rights.

In 2011 Neil defeated Karen Whitefield in the Airdrie and Shotts constituency, gaining a majority of 2001, a 5.5% swing from Labour to SNP.[2] He was promoted to the Scottish Cabinet on 19 May 2011.

In May 2014 Neil survived a vote of no confidence 57-67. Opposition MSPs had alleged he had acted improperly by cancelling changes to mental health provision when he took up his post as Health Secretary.[3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Cabinet and ministers at-a-glance, BBC Scotland Politics
  2. ^ "Vote 2011: Airdrie & Shotts". BBC. 2011-05-06. Archived from the original on 6 May 2011. Retrieved 2011-05-10. 
  3. ^ "SNP majority helps Neil fight off cross-party no confidence vote". Herald Scotland. Retrieved 21 May 2014. 

External links[edit]