Politician of the Year: Our politicians want Scotland to thrive

Last night, we hosted The Herald Scottish Politician of the Year Awards 2023 in association with ScottishPower.

Since 1999, this event has been a key fixture in Scotland’s political calendar and it was wonderful to be able to return to Edinburgh’s Prestonfield House yet again in this, the 240th year of The Herald.

Through the course of the evening we looked back on another extraordinary and tumultuous 12 months in Scottish, UK and global politics. A year in which Nicola Sturgeon stepped down as First Minister, war broke out in the Middle East, Labour flexed its muscles with significant by-elections victories north and south of the border and inquiries began into the Covid-19 outbreak.

Our main focus was, of course, at home and the chance to pause, reflect and celebrate the very best achievements of our MSPs, MPs and councillors, many of whom work tirelessly on issues that are vital for communities, yet rarely make the front pages. These individuals embody the very essence of public service, displaying an unwavering commitment to the welfare of our communities and the prosperity of Scotland as a whole.

Last night was not just a celebration of individual accomplishments, it was a collective reaffirmation of a shared commitment to a vibrant and thriving Scotland. As we applauded the efforts of our politicians, we recognised that the strength of our democracy lies in the collective power of an engaged and informed public. The importance of civic participation is crucial and the belief that, together, society can forge a future that reflects the aspirations of every Scot.

We are in an era largely defined by what divides us. The constitution, gender reform, Brexit, the approach to the Middle East. And yet I believe that what unites is far more powerful. I know every person in the room last night wants Scotland to thrive. Indeed, every Scot wants success in business, the arts and sport. We want our public services to be stronger, inequality to be tackled, and to live in a society where everyone can pursue their passion.

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What we all often disagree about is how to get there. Last night was an opportunity to set aside those differences, remind ourselves of our shared goals and pay tribute to those who have made a huge difference in 2023.

Catherine Salmond