THE dramatic resurgence of the Scottish Conservatives has been recognised in the Herald Scottish Politician of the Year Awards with the party’s largest ever haul of nominations.
After replacing Labour as the official opposition at Holyrood and doubling her MSPs, Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson has been nominated for the prestigious main title.
Nicola Sturgeon, who led the SNP to an unprecedented third term in office in May, was also nominated for Politician of the Year, as was John Swinney, her trusted former Finance and current Education Secretary.
The judges, chaired by Graeme Smith, acting editor-in-chief of The Herald, were impressed by the First Minister’s cool-headedness after the Brexit vote and by Mr Swinney’s dogged negotiating to secure the best financial deal under the new Scotland Act.
A show-stealing turn in the EU referendum also earned Ms Davidson a nomination in the Donald Dewar Debater of the Year category, pitting her against Iain Gray and Derek Mackay.
Scottish Secretary David Mundell, three current and two former Tory MSPs were also shortlisted for the prize ceremony, which takes place at Edinburgh’s Prestonfield House Hotel on October 27.
Mr Mundell was nominated for Best Scot at Westminster for his work on the Scotland Act, while Scotland’s sole Labour MP Ian Murray was chosen for making an impact against the odds, and the SNP’s Alison Thewliss for fighting the tax credits ’rape clause’.
With a third of MSPs newly elected, the One to Watch category was the most hotly contested. In contention are Ross Thomson, Adam Tomkins, Alex Cole-Hamilton and Jeane Freeman.
Mr Tomkins was also nominated for E-Politician of the Year, as was Murdo Fraser and former Labour leader Johann Lamont, who has found a new lease of life on Twitter.
In the Community MSP of the Year category, Liam McArthur was shortlisted for his immersion in Orkney life, Jenny Marra for helping bring jobs to Dundee, and Jackie Baillie for defying her own party over Trident to protect defence jobs in Dumbarton.
Paul Martin and Mary Scanlon were nominated for Committee MSP of the Year for exposing scandal via the Public Audit Committee, while the indomitable Christine Grahame was named for scrutinising Police Scotland on the Justice Committee.
Mr Swinney was also nominated in the Politics in Business Award for nine years’ hard slog as Finance Secretary, with Fergus Ewing, who helped find a buyer for two threatened steel plants, and former Tory MSP Gavin Brown also shortlisted.
Time for Inclusive Education (TIE) was nominated for Public Campaign or Campaigner of the Year for its fight against homophobic bullying.
Also impressing the judges were SANDS Lothian, one of several groups highlighting the baby ashes scandal, and NO2NP, which challenged the Named Persons scheme.
Council leaders Andrew Burns, Mark Macmillan and Eddie McAvoy are in the running for Scottish Local Politician of the Year.
The Herald Scottish Politician of the Year Awards 2016 are sponsored by Royal Bank of Scotland, IS, Virgin Trains, ScottishPower Renewables, SELECT, Thompsons Solicitors and Aiir Networks an NVT Group company.
Tommy Mitchell, Technical Director of Aiir Networks, said: “Aiir Networks is very proud to be associated with The Herald Scottish Politician of the Year Awards in 2016.
“Taking a look at this year’s nominees, we are keen to acknowledge their undeniable contribution to Scottish politics and congratulate everyone who has been shortlisted.
“All that remains is the wait to see who best connects with the judging panel on October 27th. Good luck!”
David Horne, Managing Director of Virgin Trains on the east coast route, said: “It’s a strong shortlist and I don’t envy the judges their task of selecting which candidate has made the most important contribution to political debate at Westminster.”
Patrick McGuire, partner with Thompsons Solicitors said: “It’s been another remarkable year in Scottish politics and that’s reflected in the calibre of those who’ve been nominated for an award. “It’s a real testament to the strength of public life in Scotland that the field is so strong.
“The awards are going to be a great night and it will be intriguing to see who wins in each category.”
Malcolm Buchanan, chair of the Royal Bank of Scotland’s Scottish board, said: “This has been an historic year for the Scottish and UK Governments and has brought into focus the importance of strong leadership in politics.
“The finalists selected in the Politics in Business Awards category reflect this and each has shown a commitment and understanding of the needs and wants of businesses in these challenging and uncertain times. We wish every contender the very best of luck.”
Keith Anderson, Chief Executive of ScottishPower Renewables, said: “We would like to congratulate those who made it to the final shortlist.
“The judges have selected a group who have made a significant contribution and particularly those in the One to Watch category, which ScottishPower Renewables are proud to support.”
Newell McGuiness from SELECT said: “SELECT are delighted to be sponsoring the Committee MSP of the Year category for the first time. We congratulate these deserving nominees, who have all demonstrated effective challenges within their respective committees.”
A spokesperson for the Improvement Service said: “The IS is delighted to be sponsoring the Local Politician of the Year Award for the seventh successive year. We warmly congratulate the deserving nominees, who have all consistently demonstrated effective and engaging local leadership in the most challenging of times.”
For more information on how to attend the event, please visit www.herald-events.com/politicianawards or call Claire Hunter on 0141 302 7319.