The Herald today launches the Scottish Politician of the Year Awards 2017, recognising those who have shaped yet another dramatic year in modern politics.
A snap General Election caught many off guard but Theresa May was confident of a morale-boosting victory ahead of the Brexit negotiations.
However while the Conservatives scraped to a narrow victory, the campaign did not quite go to script.
Labour, under Jeremy Corbyn, were expected to suffer at the ballot box but somehow the party’s fortunes were revived.
And in Scotland, the Tories emerged as the party to challenge the SNP, winning 13 seats compared to their single success at the previous election. Even Labout added six seats to its tally while the SNP saw its near clean sweep last time reduce by 21 seats.
The early Brexit negotiations also saw the spectre of another Scottish independence referendum mooted by the SNP. However the election result scuppered those ambitions as Nicola Sturgeon was forced to accept a rise in support for the Unionist parties.
And it you think politics is starting to get dull, then this week has already seen a major twist with Kezia Dugdale making the surprise announcement to step down as leader of Scottish Labour.
Now in their 19th 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 editor Graeme Smith will draw up a shortlist next month.
The winners in the 11 categories will then receive their honours at a ceremony at Prestonfield House, Edinburgh, on Thursday, November 16.
Last year, Ruth Davidson was named Scottish Politician of the Year following the Scottish Conservatives success at the Holyrood elections,.
The Herald also welcomes nominations for Public Campaigner of the Year, won last year by No to Named Persons (NO2NP), which forced the Scottish Government to rewrite its “state guardian” plan by taking the fight to the UK Supreme Court, which agreed it would have broken the law on data sharing.
The best debaters, community champions, promising new MSPs, and the most savvy politicians on social media will also be honoured.
Tommy Mitchell, technical director of AiiR Networks said: “We are delighted to be sponsoring the Donald Dewar Debater of the Year category again in 2017. This will be the second year in a row that we have sponsored the award and we believe honest and truthful debate is more relevant than ever. Everyone at AiiR Networks is once again looking forward to hearing the nominees and finding out who might be the next winner.”
Keith Anderson, chief executive of ScottishPower Renewables said: “The awards are one of the highlights of the Scottish political calendar and provides a great opportunity to recognise the achievements of all those nominated. ScottishPower Renewables is delighted to continue our support of the awards and congratulate the Herald for championing the event.”
Malcolm Buchanan, chair of the Royal Bank of Scotland’s Scottish board, said: “We are delighted to continue our relationship with The Herald Politics and Business Awards.
“This year marks our 290th anniversary and 2017 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.”
A spokesman for the Improvement Service said: “Following the local Elections in 2017 we are delighted to be sponsoring the Local Politician of the Year category this year. Effective strategic leadership has never been more vital to local communities and the delivery of effective local services. We look forward to celebrating the achievements of our local Politicians.”
David Horne, Virgin Trains’ managing director on the east coast route, said: “The Scottish Politician of the Year awards has consistently recognised the stand-out contributions towards political debate at both UK and Scottish levels. We’re delighted to once again sponsor the Best Scot at Westminster category at this important event and look forward to another strong list of contenders.”
Newell McGuiness from SELECT said: “We are delighted to be sponsoring the Committee MSP of the Year category for the second successive year. This Award recognises the vital role committees play in developing legislation, scrutinising public policy and holding ministers to account.”
For more information on how to nominate for the Public Campaigner of the Year, and how to attend the awards please visit https://newsquestscotlandevents.com/events/politicianawards/ or call Claire Hunter, Events Manager on 0141 302 7319.