THE Herald today launches the Scottish Politician of the Year Awards 2019, recognising those in key roles during one of the most turbulent years of modern times.
Brexit still loomed over the political landscape, as two deadlines came and went amid a battle of wills between Theresa May and MPs, and between London and Brussels.
The European elections sealed the prime minister’s fate, but also spelled trouble for Labour as the LibDems enjoyed a renaissance at Jeremy Corbyn’s expense.
A crowded Tory leadership contest ended with Boris Johnson in Downing Street, where he made planning for the million-to-one shot of a no-deal his top priority.
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Ruth Davidson returned to frontline politics after maternity leave to find her Brexiter nemesis in charge.
Nicola Sturgeon declared a climate emergency and announced legislation paving the way for a possible second independence referendum alongside an innovative Citizens Assembly.
The unprecedented strain on the Union was recognised by former prime ministers Gordon Brown and Sir John Major, who warned Brexit could unite Ireland and prompt Scotland to vote Yes.
Now in their 21st year, the awards are the highlight of the political calendar and are supported by NVT Group, Openreach, Royal Bank of Scotland, ScottishPower, the Scottish Grocers Federation and Virgin Trains.
A judging panel chaired by The Herald’s editor-in-chief Donald Martin will draw up a shortlist in October, with the winners honoured at Prestonfield House, Edinburgh, on November 21.
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The Herald also welcomes nominations for Public Campaigner of the Year, won last year by Gillian Murray, who secured an independent review of mental health services at NHS Tayside’s Carseview Centre following her uncle’s suicide. Nominations close on September 12.
The best debaters, community champions, promising MSPs, and the most savvy social media operators will also be recognised.
Hamish Fraser, managing director of NVT Group, said: “We will be sponsoring the Donald Dewar Debater of the Year award category for the eighth year in a row. We say every year there is a great need for honest debate in our political system but surely this is truer than ever in 2019.”
Brendan Dick, chairman of the Openreach board in Scotland, said: “As Scotland’s national digital network builder from Shetland to the Scottish Borders, we’re working hard to deliver great connectivity across the nation. And we couldn’t do it without the support and engagement of partners from across the political spectrum.”
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Malcolm Buchanan, chairman of Scotland Board, Royal Bank of Scotland, said: “We are delighted to continue our relationship with The Herald Politics and Business Awards.
The Royal Bank of Scotland is focused on working with the UK and Scottish Governments on a range of initiatives and is committed to supporting businesses and communities.”
Pete Cheema OBE, chief executive, Scottish Grocers Federation, said: “Convenience stores are at the heart of communities and it is vital to acknowledge and celebrate the contribution of MSPs to Scotland’s communities.”
ScottishPower chief executive Keith Anderson said: “The event is one of the highlights of the Scottish political calendar and provides a great opportunity to recognise the achievements of all those nominated.”
To make suggestions for the Public Campaigner Award, contact [email protected] or call 0141-302 7407.