Neale Hanvey: The highs and lows of a rollercoaster political career

Neale Hanvey’s political career since winning a seat at Westminster has been anything but smooth.

Sunday, 28th March 2021, 7:22 pm
Updated Sunday, 28th March 2021, 7:22 pm

In the space of 15 months he will have worn three hats - sitting as an independent member, then back in the fold of the SNP and now part of the newly formed Alba Party.

If it works the way he hopes, he will become an MSP via the regional list while also continuing as MP for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath - unless he decides to stand down and trigger a by-election for the Westminster seat.

Mr Hanvey is used to triumphs and setbacks.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Election night: Neale Hanvey wins the Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath seat (Pic: George McLuskie)

In 2012 he was elected as an SNP councillor for Dunfermline on Fife Council.

By the time of the 2017 election he was his party’s group leader as it found itself contemplating a first-ever coalition with Labour to run Fife Council.

He would have been co-leader ... only, he lost his seat in one of the many shocks of the count at Rothes Halls, Glenrothes.

The move from being at the heart of power to on the outside looking in was one of the big stories of an election night packed with drama.

Neale Hanvey waits as Lesley Laird makes her speech (Pic: George McLuskie)

Fast forward to October 2019, and Mr Hanvey returned to the region’s political scene as the SNP candidate for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath in the General Election.

His campaign was thrown into turmoil with the revelation of antisemitic social media posts.

He was suspended by the SNP and the party withdrew all support, sending its local foot soldiers to north-east Fife to shore up the campaign to get the highly-regarded, but deeply vulnerable, Stephen Gethins, re-elected - he was defending the UK’s smallest majorIty of just two votes.

By the time this erupted, the ballot papers had been printed.

With the help of activists from the local Yes hub, Mr Hanvey soldiered on as an independent while the voters’ forms showed him as an SNP candidate.

To then defeat the incumbent, Labour’s Lesley Laird, was one of the triumphs of the night - he emerged with a 1200 majority, but entered parliament in limbo, sitting next to the SNP backbenchers but, officially, not one of them while the party took its time over deliberating what to do with him.

His suspension was not lifted until May 2020 by which time he had been advised by the Antisemitism Policy Trust, and also apologised in person to the Scottish Council of Jewish Communities.

His return to the fold took another step forward on July 2 last year when he was appointed as the SNP member and spokesperson for the Westminster health and social care select committee.

In February 2021, Mr Hanvey was appointed as his party’s vaccine spokesperson only to be sacked within three days after he supported a crowdfunding campaign for a defamation case against several individuals, including SNP MP Kirsty Blackman

Jumping ship from the SNP to the Alba Party will mean more ripples across the political pond as campaigners and observers weigh up the impact and influence Mr Salmond’s new platform may have on the political landscape.

Thank you for reading this article on our free-to-read website. We're more reliant on your support than ever as the shift in consumer habits brought about by Coronavirus impacts our advertisers.

Please consider purchasing a subscription to our print newspaper to help fund our trusted, fact-checked journalism.