The nominations for the Scottish Politician of the Year Awards have been declared. The awards, introduced in 1999, are for politicians from all walks of life – from local authorities to Westminster.
The annual awards are based on nine categories including the Politician of the Year, Public Campaign of the Year and Lifetime Achievement Award.
The winners will be announced at the Prestonfield House Hotel on November the 18th. The awards aim to encourage political performance and bring together key individuals in business and politics in Scotland. The nominees and winners are chosen by a panel of judges in what has been described, by key sponsors The Herald, as heated debates.
Running for Politician of the Year are Health Secretary and Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, Labour leader Iain Gray, Liberal Democrat leader Tavish Scott and convener of Holyrood’s Public Audit Committee Hugh Henry. Henry is the first back bencher at the Scottish Parliament to be nominated for the top award. His work attracted attention in 2010 through the Audit Committees scrutiny of senior Civil Servants and First Minister Alex Salmond’s controversial handling of the Homecoming event, the Gathering. Hugh Henry told Edinburgh Napier News:
“I’m surprised but honoured to have been nominated. I hope that this will reflect the good work done by many backbenchers over many years in the parliament”
The most popular award is the Public Campaign or Campaigner of the Year. This year’s award nominees include Tina McGeever, who’s late husband Michael Gray was denied drugs to combat cancer, and she has tried to stop the post-code lottery on new medicines in Scotland. The second campaign nominee is stalking victim Ann Moulds who has campaigned successfully to make such behaviour a crime. Finally Kelly McGee who has worked hard on mandatory sentences for knife crime after her brother Paul, a Scots Guard, was stabbed and killed outside the family home in Lochwinnoch.
One award has remained a secret and that is Lifetime Achievement. According to The Herald, two excellent candidates have been nominated but judges had difficulty coming to an agreement.
The Awards have had their share of bad behaviour. In 2004 Lord Watson of Invergowrie set fire to curtains at the Prestonfield Hotel, and in 2007 Matthew Marr, chief press aide to then Labour leader Wendy Alexander, became abusive to guests and the staff. Both men resigned from political life.
Winning, however, does not necessarily lead to success. In last years awards Steven Purcell won Councillor of the Year but stepped down from Glasgow City council in March this year due to a drugs scandal.
Last year’s Politician of the Year was won by John Swinney MSP, pictured, but the Finance Secretary could be excused for having other things on this mind with the pending budget speech to Holyrood on November the 17th.