Tories secure record haul in Scottish Politician of the Year shortlist

THE onward march of the Scottish Conservatives has been recognised in The Herald Scottish Politician of the Year Awards with another record haul of nominations.

After bucking the national trend against her party to gain 12 MPs in the general election – ultimately keeping Theresa May in Downing Street – Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson is again nominated for the prestigious main title, which she won last year.

Willie Rennie, who has helped the Scottish Liberal Democrats consistently punch above their weight, is also nominated, as is Brexit Minister Michael Russell, whose fight against a Westminster “power grab” has found allies throughout the UK and across the political spectrum.

The judges, chaired by Donald Martin, Editor in Chief of Newsquest Scotland, were impressed by the First Minister being able to surprise after a decade in power with her recent Programme for Government, and by Mr Russell’s prescient work on Brexit.

Ms Davidson is also nominated for best E-Politician alongside fellow Conservative MSP Murdo Fraser and the SNP MP Stewart McDonald.

The SNP’s Alison Thewliss and Stephen Gethins are in the Best Scot at Westminster category, the former for highlighting the child tax credit ‘rape clause’ and the latter for his work on Brexit and international affairs. Scottish Secretary David Mundell is also nominated.

Former Labour leader Kezia Dugdale, who made a powerful speech attacking the rape clause, is nominated for Donald Dewar Debater of the Year, alongside Scottish Tory deputy Jackson Carlaw and Labour’s Neil Findlay, both lively critics of the SNP government.

Mr Findlay was also shortlisted for Committee MSP of the Year, as were former SNP cabinet secretary Alex Neil and Conservative Adam Tomkins.

The SNP’s Kate Forbes and Ben Macpherson, Labour’s Monica Lennon, and Tory Miles Briggs are in contention in the One to Watch category.

An unusual joint entry features in the Community MSP section, with LibDem MSPs Liam McArthur and Tavish Scott nominated for shared work in their Orkney and Shetland seats.

The SNP’s Mairi Gougeon is also nominated for her scrutiny of NHS Tayside, and Green Andy Wightman for raising the growing problem of short-term lets in the capital.

Economy Secretary Keith Brown is shortlisted in the Politics in BusinessAward with Tory finance and economy spokesmen Murdo Fraser and Dean Lockhart.

The women highlighting the lasting effects of mesh implants are nominated for Public Campaign or Campaigner of the Year, as are the Have You Got the Bottle scheme, and Amanda Kopel, whose Frank’s Law campaign is extending care for dementia sufferers such as her late husband.

In the Local Politician of the Year category, the nominees are Aberdeen City Council leader and Labour rebel Jenny Laing, Edinburgh planning convener Lewis Ritchie, and Susan Aitken, the first ever SNP leader of Glasgow City Council.

The 2017 awards, to be held at Prestonfield House on November 16, are sponsored by Virgin Trains, Royal Bank of Scotland, ScottishPower Renewables, SELECT, Improvement Service, 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 again in 2017. Taking a look at this year’s nominees, we appreciate their undeniable contribution to Scottish politics and congratulate everyone who has been shortlisted. All that remains is the wait to see who scoops the awards on November 16th. Good luck.”

A spokesman for the Improvement Service said: “The IS is delighted to be sponsoring the Local Politician of the Year Award for the eighth successive year.

“We warmly congratulate the deserving nominees and look forward to celebrating the achievements of our local politicians.”

Newell McGuiness from SELECT said: “SELECT are delighted to be sponsoring the Committee MSP of the Year category for the second successive year. ‘We congratulate all of the nominees, all of whom have demonstrated effective challenges within their respective committees.”

Malcom Buchanan, Managing Director Corporate & Commercial Banking, Royal Bank of Scotland, said: “This has been an significant 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 this year’s finalists for the awards.

“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.”