AN SNP MP has expressed gratitude for a £5000 donation made by one of Scottish Labour’s largest former donors to his General Election campaign last year.

Neil Gray, who represents Airdrie and Shotts, was given the contribution by Brian Dempsey, the former director of Celtic football club, ahead of last year’s election.

Dempsey, son of the former Lanarkshire Labour MP James Dempsey, said the donation was given in recognition of Gray’s fight for the new Monklands Hospital to be built on its existing site.

Dempsey’s father played a key role in bringing the original hospital to the site in his former Coatbridge constituency.

Gray told The National: “The Dempsey family still have a very strong name in Airdrie because of the work that their father did for the town, securing the hospital and the work he did for his constituents some of whom are now my constituents.

“It’s a huge validation of the campaign that I’ve been running to keep Monklands Hospital in the Airdrie area. It was a big boost for the campaign and was especially pleasing as he is a former Labour donor.

“His donation was very gratefully received. I am very thankful for the work he has done and the support he has provided.”

Dempsey told the Sunday Times: “While my heart will always remain Labour and I wouldn’t pretend to be a nationalist, Neil Gray has been very active in trying to keep the hospital in Airdrie.

“My father was the key player who campaigned to bring the hospital to its current site and our family was keen to support Neil Gray in the campaign to retain it here.”

Dempsey handed over tens of thousands of pounds to Scottish Labour throughout the 1990s and early 2000s and emerged as a business supporter of the Union in the run-up to the 2014 independence referendum.

He is best remembered for his role alongside Fergus McCann in the Celtic takeover, in 1994, which rescued the club from bankruptcy and led to its revitalisation under the new regime. His declaration that “the game is over, the rebels have won” has become immortalised in Celtic folklore.

Gray was first elected as MP for Airdrie and Shotts in May 2015, defeating the former Labour MP Pamela Nash, who is now the chief executive of the anti-independence campaign group Scotland in Union.

The former BBC journalist, who has also worked for the SNP MSP Alex Neil, was re-elected in 2017 and in December last year when he defeated the Labour candidate, Helen McFarlane, with an increased majority.

He is currently SNP spokesperson for work and pensions and is a member of the party’s social justice commission, set up by the First Minister to advance economic equality and fairness.