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Politicians and public heroes set for glittering awards night

The Herald launches the Scottish Politician of the Year Awards 2010 today to recognise the efforts of the people you elected to Holyrood, Westminster and your local council.

The awards will also spotlight a group or individual who has been a force to be reckoned with due to the energy and effectiveness of a campaign they have championed.

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The gala awards, now in their 12th year, are supported by Eaga, the UK’s leading supplier of efficient energy systems to help local and national governments, as well as the private sector, meet carbon-emission objectives; and the Robertson Group, a portfolio of firms that provide construction, investment and development services.

The awards will be presented at Edinburgh’s prestigious Prestonfield House Hotel on November 18.

The outcome of the General Election has changed the nature of UK politics by returning a Conservative-Liberal Democrat Coalition and there is already widespread speculation about what shape the Scottish Government will take after next May’s Holyrood elections.

Once again, the awards take place at a critical stage in the election cycle and will reflect how individuals and their parties have been performing.

The distinguished list of previous winners includes Donald Dewar, Scotland’s “Father of the Nation” who helped usher in the country’s first Parliament in 300 years, and Alex Salmond, the man who broke the hold of the Labour Party on Scottish politics by leading the SNP into government for the first time.

The list also includes former deputy First Ministers: Lib-Dem Jim Wallace, now Baron Wallace of Tankerness and Advocate General for Scotland; and Nicola Sturgeon, the current Health Secretary and deputy leader of the SNP.

Last year’s winner was Finance Secretary John Swinney who was not only named Politician of the Year but, in a rare double accolade was also named as Donald Dewar Debater of the Year.

Mr Swinney won the top award for his handling of the Budget and he is certain to feature in the nominations again this year, but with Scotland going through tough economic times, it remains to be seen how his performance will be judged.

His colleague Ms Sturgeon has also shown her mettle despite a couple of false steps and, regardless of opposition criticism, many would argue the NHS in Scotland has improved on her watch.

Labour’s Holyrood leader Iain Gray will feature after being at the forefront of his party’s General Election campaign in Scotland, which delivered a resounding success north of the Border.

Lib-Dem leader Tavish Scott has made his presence felt in effectively taking the scalp of former Education Secretary Fiona Hyslop in the row over teacher numbers, and in scoring several direct hits at First Minister’s Questions.

The Conservatives did not fare well at the General Election but their Scottish leader Annabel Goldie insists their bargaining power has forced the SNP to make policy decisions they did not want to make, such as on police numbers.

Another potential winner may come from the back benches. As convener of the Public Audit Committee, Labour’s Hugh Henry has chased every pound as if it were his own, and his targets have included Alex Salmond and the former head of the civil service, Sir John Elvidge.

Other categories include Best Scot at Westminster, for which Danny Alexander, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, must be a contender in view of his meteoric rise, but Labour’s Jim Murphy will also be in the running after an outstanding General Election campaign.

In addition to the political awards, members of the public who have campaigned for issues close to their hearts will be recognised. Contenders include Ann Moulds, whose experience of being stalked led to her successfully campaigning for the law to be tightened, and Tina McGeever, the driving force behind new national guidelines on introducing medicines. Her fight began when her now-deceased husband, Michael Gray, was denied a cancer drug.

The fight goes on for Kelly McGee, who wants mandatory sentences for knife crimes after her brother Paul, a soldier with the Scots Guards, was stabbed to death outside the family home in Lochwinnoch.

There has also been the valiant, but so far unsuccessful, fight by MSP Anne McLaughlin, of the SNP, and campaigners who are trying to prevent the deportation of Florence and Precious Mhango from Glasgow.

We would be pleased to hear more suggestions from readers who wish to suggest a worthy candidate for this category.

The judges will compile their shortlist on November 1, so please let us have your suggestions before that date.

l If you want to know more about the event, please go to www.heraldscotland.com/go/politicianawards10 and if you want to make a nomination for a Public Campaigner of the Year award, the address is politician@theherald.co.uk

 

The Categories:

 

Donald Dewar Debater of the Year (sponsored by Eaga)

Scottish Politician of the Year

Best Scot at Westminster

Committee Award

One to Watch

Local Government Politician of the Year (sponsored by Improvement Service/Robertson Group)

Public Campaign or Campaigner of the Year

Political Contribution of the Year

Lifetime Achievement Award

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