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by Sofia Villegas
15 October 2023
Neil Gray: ‘I didn’t see an ostracization’ of Lisa Cameron

Holyrood editor Mandy Rhodes and wellbeing economy minister Neil Gray | Andrew Perry

Neil Gray: ‘I didn’t see an ostracization’ of Lisa Cameron

Neil Gray: ‘I didn’t see an ostracization’ of Lisa Cameron

Neil Gray said he did not see an “ostracization” of Lisa Cameron after she said she had felt “isolated” within the SNP’s group at Westminster, where she described an environment of “fear and intimidation".

The wellbeing economy minister was asked about former colleague Lisa Cameron during a Holyrood In Conversation at the SNP’s annual party conference in Aberdeen.

Gray said she had made “pretty alarming claims” but said “nobody should be in hiding because of the decisions they make”. He said he hadn’t seen any of the “ostracization” but reiterated “that didn’t mean it didn’t happen” after Cameron defected to the Conservatives earlier this month.

He said: “I am obviously not familiar with everything that has gone on for her and obviously she's made pretty alarming claims and I feel very sorry for any abuse that she has suffered as a result of her actions this week. Nobody should be at risk of threats or feel that they have to go into hiding because of decisions that they make.

“I haven't seen any evidence of what she is suggesting. I certainly didn't witness any of that when I was there. It's not to say it didn't happen.”

Gray also touched on how his upbringing had taught him the value of the social security “safety net”.

He recounted the devastating effects of the brain tumour that “completely debilitated” his father, with doctors suggesting he would never walk or talk again before a successful operation and rehabilitation.

He explained the difficulties his family faced, recounting that they raised poultry to sell at Christmas to raise money for presents.

Gray said his father had given him “a determination” to work hard and the mindset “not to allow circumstances to get in the way”. On his work ethic, Gray said he had “fond memories” of helping family friends on their farms in Orkney.

He said: “That sense of community was incredibly important.

“You always have to be out there working and doing what you can to contribute for yourself and your community.”

His father’s health difficulties growing up had built a “burning sense for social justice, and insurance” in him.

Gray revealed standing up for independence had made him a “black sheep in Orkney” as it was “unfashionable” to support the movement during the early 2000’s.

“My history teacher at the time, who was a very strong socialist, probably a communist, but someone even though it was history that we were learning about was really an incredibly powerful teacher at inspiring debate and discussion within the class. And I don't know how it came about, but we got onto the subject of talking about Scottish constitutional future analysis. You know, the late 90s, early 2000s was pretty unfashionable either to be reckoning that independence was an option, never mind a possibility or something that we should be doing, particularly in Orkney.

“So, I was a bit of a black sheep in that sense. But I said, no, I think it's absolutely right that Scotland has its own parliament.”

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