Scottish Politician of the Year: Who has won in previous years?

The Scottish Politician of the Year awards in association with ScottishPower are fast approaching, with the ceremony to be held in Edinburgh on Thursday.

While there are many categories to watch, all eyes will, as always, be on the big one – Scottish Politician of the Year.

As the country’s top MSPs cross their fingers, here’s who has taken the honour in the past.

Read More: The Herald Scottish Politician of the Year: One to Watch winners

1999 – Donald Dewar MSP

No surprise that Scotland’s inaugural First Minister and a key figure in establishing Holyrood was the first winner. Mr Dewar was elected First Minister on 13 May 1999 and would serve until his death the following year.

2000 – Jim Wallace MSP

The following year it was the deputy First Minister who was named Scottish Politician of the Year, Mr Wallace having served as acting First Minister in the wake of Mr Dewar’s death.

2001 – Jack McConnell MSP

After surprisingly being defeated in the leadership election to succeed Mr Dewar, Mr McConnell won the job of Scottish Labour leader following the resignation Henry McLeish in an expenses scandal.

2002 – Malcolm Chisholm MSP

The first MSP who is not a party leader to the judged the Politician of the Year, Mr Chisholm won for his work as health secretary.

2003 – George Reid MSP

The presiding officer’s triumph was something of a comeback story. He was in danger of heading for political anonymity when the SNP placed him fifth on the regional list for Mid Scotland and Fife, but swept Labour out of Ochil to take the first-past-the-post seat before giving up his party allegiance to take the post of presiding officer. Mr Reid was also praised for his contributions to the debate on invading Iraq.

2004 – Margaret Curran MSP

The first woman to win the award, Ms Curran was recognised for work including the anti-social behaviour bill.

2005 – George Reid MSP

Mr Reid became the first MSP to win the award twice in 2005. He was given a lifetime achievement award in 2013.

2006 – Andy Kerr MSP

As health minister, Mr Kerr brought in Scotland’s ban on smoking in public places, which came into force in March of 2006.

2007 – Alex Salmond MSP

The SNP won a shock victory in the 2007 Holyrood elections, albeit ending with just one seat more than Scottish Labour, so it was no surprise the party leader was named Politician of the Year.

2008 – Nicola Sturgeon MSP

A first win for the future First Minister, but not the last.

2009 – John Swinney MSP

Mr Swinney was praised by the judges for his handling of the economic crisis, with his judgement seeing him beat Ms Sturgeon and justice secretary Kenny MacAskill to the prize.

2010 – Hugh Henry MSP

The Labour member for Paisley South beat his party leader, Iain Gray, as well as Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Lib Dem leader Tavish Scott.

2011 – Alex Salmond MSP

The SNP won an outright majority at the 2011 Holyrood election – something thought to be close to impossible – as they won in a landslide. Mr Salmond was always the obvious candidate in that light.

2012 – Nicola Sturgeon MSP

Ms Sturgeon won again in 2012 for a series of achievements as deputy First Minister, including alcohol pricing and same-sex marriage, while she was also named as the ‘Yes Minister’ for the upcoming referendum on independence.

2013 – Alex Salmond MSP

Mr Salmond and Ms Sturgeon had something of a Messi-Ronaldo back-and-forth going on with Scottish politics’ equivalent of the Ballon d’Or, and with the referendum he’d worked for his entire career just months away it was the First Minister who won in 2013.

2014 – Nicola Sturgeon MSP

Mr Salmond resigned as First Minister after the independence referendum was lost, and was replaced by his deputy. Ms Sturgeon joined him on three wins the day after she became Scotland’s first ever female First Minister.

2015 – Nicola Sturgeon MSP

The SNP took all but three Scottish seats at the 2015 Westminster election, and that earned Ms Sturgeon her fourth gong.

2016 – Ruth Davidson MSP

The Scottish Conservatives achieved their best-ever Holyrood result at the 2016 election and their leader was recognised with the top politician award.

2017 – Ruth Davidson MSP

A double for Davidson after a snap election called by Prime Minister Theresa May saw the Tories lose their Westminster majority but return 11 MPs north of the border.

2018 – Jeane Freeman MSP

Ms Freeman scooped the award just five months into her role as Scotland’s health secretary.

2019 – Nicola Sturgeon MSP

A record fifth win for the SNP leader, who was rewarded for “reinvigorating her party and its mission after electoral setbacks in 2017 and for artfully merging the case against Brexit with one in favour of independence”.

2022 – Anas Sarwar MSP

After two years with no ceremony due to the pandemic, the Scottish Labour leader took home the top prize last year. Following the huge win in the Rutherglen & Hamilton West by-election he’ll be looking to do the double this year.