Neil in 2009
|Cabinet Secretary for Social Justice, Communities and Pensioners' Rights|
21 November 2014 - 18 May 2016
|Cabinet Secretary for Health and Wellbeing|
5 September 2012 - 21 November 2014
|Member of the Scottish Parliament|
for Airdrie and Shotts
6 May 2011
|Member of the Scottish Parliament|
for Central Scotland
(1 of 7 Regional MSPs)
6 May 1999 - 6 May 2011
|Born||22 August 1951|
Irvine, Ayrshire, Scotland
|Political party||Labour Party (1967-1976)|
Scottish Labour Party (1976-1985)
Scottish National Party (1985-present)
|Alma mater||University of Dundee|
|Occupation||Political researcher; Businessman; Economic consultant|
Alexander "Alex" Neil (born 22 August 1951) is a Scottish politician serving as Member of the Scottish Parliament for Airdrie and Shotts. He was Cabinet Secretary for Social Justice, Communities and Pensioners' Rights between 2014 and 2016.
Neil was born in Ayrshire Central Hospital, Irvine, the son of Margaret (née Gunning) and Alexander Neil snr, a coalminer. He was brought up in Patna, Ayrshire, and became involved in Labour politics, joining the Labour Party in 1967, aged 16. He was educated at Ayr Academy, before attending the University of Dundee, where he studied economics. He served as chairman of the Scottish Organisation of Labour Students and later the UK-wide National Organisation of Labour Students.
After graduating with an MA (Hons) degree in 1973, Neil was appointed as the first-ever research officer for the Scottish Executive Committee of the Labour Party. In 1976, Neil, along with Jim Sillars and John Robertson, left the Labour Party to form the breakaway group, the Scottish Labour Party (SLP). Neil served as General Secretary of the SLP from 1976 to 1979. 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 the 1992 and 1997 general elections.
The following year he stood unsuccessfully in the hard-fought contest for the leadership of the SNP against John Swinney. Thereafter he was appointed chair of the Scottish Parliament's Enterprise and Lifelong Learning Committee, a role he kept on until 2003.
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.
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.
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. 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. He was promoted to the Scottish Cabinet on 19 May 2011 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. A month into this post, in an interview with Scotland on Sunday Neil spoke about the possibility of abortion laws being made in Scotland rather than Westminster, saying that politicians would have to consider the medical evidence.
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. After Nicola Sturgeon became First Minister of Scotland in November 2014, Neil was appointed to the new post of Cabinet Secretary for Social Justice, Communities and Pensioners' Rights. He resigned from the Government on 18 May 2016.
Neil is married to Isabella Kerr and together they have one son.
| Member of the Scottish Parliament for Central Scotland
| Member of the Scottish Parliament for Airdrie and Shotts
as Minister for Communities and Sport
| Minister for Housing and Communities
as Minister for Housing and Transport
| Cabinet Secretary for Infrastructure and Capital Investment
| Cabinet Secretary for Health and Wellbeing
| Cabinet Secretary for Social Justice, Communities and Pensioners' Rights