The Herald launches search for the top performers in an extraordinary political year

The Herald today launches the Scottish Politician of the Year Awards 2016, recognising those who have shaped one of the most dramatic years in modern politics.

Expectations were confounded time and again as the SNP won a third term but narrowly lost their majority, the Scottish Conservatives staged a dramatic comeback, and the UK voted in favour of Brexit despite Scots choosing overwhelmingly to remain in Europe.

May’s elections also saw Labour fall into third place, a revival for the Scottish Greens, and Alex Salmond bid farewell once more to Holyrood to concentrate on Westminster – for now.

And after an epic tug-of-war between the UK and Scottish governments, Holyrood and Westminster finally passed the Scotland Act, devolving major new tax and welfare powers.

The 12 months since the last awards have also seen a rolling coup against Jeremy Corbyn amid Labour splits north and south of the border, and Nicola Sturgeon saying a second independence referendum is “highly likely”, not to mention a change of Prime Minister.

The MPs, MPs and councillors at the heart of events during this tumultuous period will be honoured in the Herald Scottish Politician of the Year Awards.

Now in their 18th year, the Awards are the highlight of the political calendar and are supported by Royal Bank of Scotland, Improvement Service (IS), Virgin Trains, ScottishPower Renewables, SELECT, Thompsons Solicitors and Aiir Networks an NVT Group company.

A judging panel chaired by Herald deputy editor Graeme Smith will draw up a shortlist next month.

The winners in the eleven categories will then receive their honours at a ceremony at Edinburgh’s Prestonfield House on Thursday, October 27.

Last year, Nicola Sturgeon was named Scottish Politician of the Year for a record fourth time, while her colleague Angus Robertson was named the Best Scot at Westminster for helping to deliver the party’s unprecedented general election success.

The Herald also welcomes nominations for Public Campaigner of the Year, won last year by Gordon’s Fightback, the effort to secure better care for people with degenerative conditions led by the inspiring motor-neurone disease campaigner Gordon Aikman.

The best debaters, community champions, promising new MSPs, and the most savvy politicians on social media will also be honoured.

David Horne, Managing Director of Virgin Trains on the East Coast, said: “The Herald Politician of the Year awards give us the chance to look back on another dramatic year of passionate political argument, recognising those who have contributed most to driving and defining those debates. As the key operator of rail services connecting Scotland to England, we’re delighted to support this prestigious event for the third year and look forward to seeing a strong list of candidates.”

Tommy Mitchell, Technical Director of Aiir Networks, said: “We are delighted that Aiir Networks will be sponsoring the Donald Dewar Debater of the Year category in 2016. In a year where there has been plenty of political debate surrounding Brexit and other issues which will have a direct impact on the Scottish economy, this award is more meaningful than ever. Everyone at Aiir Networks is looking forward to hearing the nominees and finding out who could be the next winner.”

Malcolm Buchanan, chair of the Royal Bank of Scotland’s Scottish board, said: “The Royal Bank of Scotland is delighted to continue our relationship with the Herald Politics and Business Award.

“We have supported the awards for four years and this year more than ever has brought into focus the importance of politicians and business leaders working together to support the country’s economic growth.

“The Royal Bank of Scotland is focused on working with the UK and Scottish Governments on a range of initiatives and are committed to supporting our country’s businesses and communities.”

Keith Anderson, Chief Executive of ScottishPower Renewables said: “ScottishPower Renewables is delighted to continue our support of the awards. The event is one of the highlights of the Scottish political calendar and provides a great opportunity to recognise the achievements of all those nominated. I congratulate the Herald for their continuous support of this event.”

Newell McGuiness from SELECT said: “SELECT are delighted to be sponsoring the Committee MSP of the Year category. This Award recognises the vital role of committees in developing legislation, scrutinising public policy and holding ministers to account.”

Patrick McGuire, a partner with Thompsons Solicitors, added: “Thompsons are delighted to continue our longstanding relationship with The Scottish Politician of The Year Awards. The evening is of one of the real highlights of the country’s political calendar and with events in Scottish Politics as exciting as ever it’s a night we’re all looking forward to.”

A spokesperson for the Improvement Service said: “The IS is delighted to be sponsoring the Local Politician of the Year category in recognition of the vital role local leadership plays in making local communities better and fairer.”

For more information on nominating the Public Campaigner of the Year and how to attend these awards, please contact Claire Hunter on 0141 302 7319 or visit: