GIVEN the pace of events lately it can be difficult to keep up with the number of laws being passed. You may have missed, for example, the Compulsory Year End Look Back Act 2020, under which Her Majesty’s columnists must write about the 12 months just gone. So in a year when almost everything that could go wrong did go wrong, who got 2020 right?

Danny Dyer

The EastEnders actor spoke for many when he said the Covid catastrophe had exposed certain politicians’ unfitness for office. “We must learn now that the people who went to Eton can’t run this country,” he declared. “We need some working class people, people who have lived a real life, that are in touch with what’s going on, to come to the front now and start getting involved with how this country’s run.” Handily for the star of Run for Your Wife, the Scottish Parliament elections take place next May. We know his family tree includes William the Conqueror and Henry III. Surely there must be a Scottish granny lurking somewhere in the branches?

Kamala Harris

She made history as the first woman and the first BAME person to become vice president-elect of the US, erased the pain of Hillary, annoyed the bejeezus out of Donald Trump, and did it all while rocking a white trouser suit like Travolta. Both she and 78-year-old president-elect Joe Biden were named Time’s Person of the Year. So far, the pair have run their three-legged race well. The real marathon begins after the inauguration on January 20.

READ MORE: FM apologises for breaching Covid rules

Steve Clarke


Like Archie Gemmill heading for the Dutch goal, the Scotland manager juked round decades of humiliation, nutmegged the national tendency to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, and took Scotland to its first major tournament in 23 years. He was an example to politicians everywhere of getting the job done, and he did so in a decidedly Scottish, understated way, a personality trail blazed by Andy Murray, Jock Stein and many another sporting great.

Bob Dylan


When he warned in Subterranean Homesick Blues against following leaders (and watching parking meters), Dylan must have had a vision of 2020. With the exception of New Zealand’s PM Jacinda Ardern, the world’s premiers tried and failed to get ahead of the virus, and some of them paid the price (Donald Who?). The first musician to win the Nobel Prize in Literature scored a hit by selling the rights to his songs, all of which he owned, for £225 million, thus confirming he always has been the smartest guy in the music industry’s room.

Linda Bauld


The professor of public health at the University of Edinburgh has shone a light through the fog of bluster generated by politicians. Cool, clear and articulate, she is an example to anyone who needs to communicate a message. Her florist has played a blinder, too, with prof Bauld’s “media cupboard” never short of a nice vase of blooms.

The Unknown Neighbour


It had become an accepted fact of modern life that community wasn’t what it used to be (if it ever was), and that you and your neighbours were destined to be, at best, strangers on nodding terms. The pandemic changed that. We shopped for others, had socially distanced alfresco chats, and generally felt grateful for the people around us. Even her at number 18.

Monica Lennon


It is not often a Labour MSP, or any MSP, finds themselves the subject of headlines in the New York Times. But on November 24, 2020 the Gray Lady reported that Scotland had become “the first country in the world to make period products freely available to all who need them”. After a four year campaign, Scottish Labour’s health spokesperson smashed taboos along the way with the Period Products (Free Provision) (Scotland) Act. As Lennon said: “There has been a massive change in the way that periods are discussed in public life. A few years ago there had never been an open discussion of menstruation in the Holyrood chamber and now it is mainstream.”

Marcus Rashford


The first lockdown began with Matt Hancock, England’s Health Secretary, telling footballers to lead by example and take a pay cut. Then along came a lad of 23 in a Man United shirt and showed Mr Hancock and the rest of the Cabinet how politics could and should be done. Marcus Rashford, the son of a single mother who worked full time yet couldn’t always afford to put food on the table, reckoned poor children going hungry in 21st century Britain was just plain wrong. His campaign to feed them year round manoeuvred the UK Government into a position where it could not say no. As one banner put it: “Rashford 1, Boris 0.”

Dolly Parton


How magnificent is the First Lady of country music? Let us count some of the ways. Besides continuing a career in which she has sold hundreds of millions of records, the now 74-year-old showed she had a keen eye for science and a heart for philanthropy when it was revealed she had given $1 million to the search for a Covid-19 vaccines. The product she had backed was among the successful ones. She may have famously said of herself that, “It takes a lot of money to look this cheap,” but Miss Parton is four feet nine inches of sheer class.

READ MORE: Issue of the Day - Dolly Parton

Douglas Stuart


The author took more than a decade to produce his debut novel, Shuggie Bain, but it arrived like a benign asteroid trailing showers of praise. Our own Teddy Jamieson described it as “a fierce yet tender account of poverty, addiction and queerness in 1980s Glasgow”. Sighthill-born Stuart was only the second Scot to win the Booker after James Kelman with How Late it Was, How Late, in 1994. While both were written in an authentic Scottish urban dialect, only Kelman’s masterpiece had the literary establishment clutching its pearls in astonishment, bordering on outrage, that a working class voice was victorious. What a difference 26 years had made.

READ MORE: Douglas Stuart, The Herald Magazine interview

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