One to Watch – Supported by ScottishPower Previous winners 

The Herald’s ‘One to watch’ award is a gong that recognises potential rather than achievement, and is given to an MSP who we think will rise through the ranks of their party or go above and beyond in Parliament. Over the years some of our picks have indeed achieved great success in their careers, making a real mark on Scottish politics

As the countdown begins to this year's awards on Thursday night, we look at the dozen winners since the award was inaugurated in 2007, and see if our crystal ball was working each year.     

The Herald:

2007 - Derek Brownlee MSP 

Perhaps not the greatest start. Scottish Conservative MSP Derek Brownlee was tipped for great things, but lost his seat in 2011 and decided to leave politics. He is now an accountant with the Royal Bank of Scotland.  

2008 - John Park MSP 

Spoken of as a future leader of Scottish Labour, Park was Chief Whip under Iain Gray. A tireless advocate for workers’ rights, he won the award off the strength of his campaign drive an increase in apprenticeship opportunities. However, his star shone but briefly – and he resigned his seat in 2012 to return to a trade union role after just five years at the Scottish Parliament.   

2009 - Gavin Brown MSP 

Scottish Conservative Brown entered parliament in 2007, serving the Lothian region, and made an impact as Tourism and Enterprise Spokesman, also sitting on the Economy, Energy and Tourism Committee. Rising to become his party’s finance spokesman, he gained a reputation as an eloquent debater. He stood down as an MSP in 2016, and has since left politics. 

The Herald: Shirley-Anne Somerville

2010 - Shirley-Anne Somerville MSP 

An SNP stalwart, Ms Somerville has held a number of high-profile posts in the Scottish Government. Entering Holyrood in 2007, we picked her as ‘one to watch' in 2010, and got it mostly right. Despite losing her seat in 2011, she returned to Holyrood in 2016 and has remained an MSP and member of the Scottish Government ever since. She has served as Minister of Further Education, Higher Education and Science, Cabinet Secretary for Social Security and is currently the Cabinet Secretary for Education.   

2011 - Ruth Davidson MSP 

Another whose future success we spotted early - Ruth Davidson was barely in the door when she picked up the award. She had served as Culture, Europe and External Relations under Annabelle Goldie, but took over from her boss in November the year as leader of the Scottish Conservatives. In charge during the 2014 Indy ref and the Brexit vote, she led her party to become the second largest at the Scottish Parliament, deliver its best result at a general election in Scotland since 1983 and gain its biggest ever number of councillors at a local election.  She stood down as leader in 2019, and left the Scottish Parliament in 2021. She has since entered the House of Lords as Baroness Davidson of Lundin Links.  

The Herald:

2012 - Humza Yousaf 

Our best prediction of future achievement. A fresh-faced winner in 2012 having been elected to the Scottish Parliament the year before he won the award, Humza Yousaf’s career has seen him go from parliamentary researcher to MSP, International Development Minister, Transport Minister, Cabinet Secretary for Justice, Cabinet Secretary for Health and finally occupant of Bute House as First Minister. His fresh face has also gained a beard in that time.

Read more: Scottish Politician of the Year Awards: shortlist revealed     

2013 - Kezia Dugdale 

A winner just two years into her parliamentary career, Kezia Dugdale was already building a substantial profile and would go on to become deputy leader of her party the next year. She rose to serve as leader between 2015 and 2017, when she stepped down after a bruising time for Labour in the Holyrood and Westminster elections, which saw its number of MPS and MSPs fall to third place behind the Scottish Conservatives. After falling out with then-Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, she resigned her seat in 2019 and is now Director of the John Smith Centre for Public Service at the University of Glasgow. 

The Herald: Alex Cole-Hamilton

2016 - Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP 

One we spotted early. Alex Cole-Hamilton was elected the year he won the award and was already serving as Scottish Liberal Democrat spokesperson for Health. Just as our prophecy foretold, he would rise to his party’s top job, becoming leader in 2021. His achievements include receiving the highest-ever number of votes in a Scottish Parliamentary election (25,578, in 2021) and being sanctioned by the Kremlin over his criticism of the war in Ukraine and Russian influence on Scottish business.  

2017 - Monica Lennon MSP 

Another MSP who joined the Scottish Parliament in 2016, Ms Lennon has served as in her party’s Shadow Cabinet since the year she won the award, fulfilling the Communities and Local Government, Health and Sport, Economy, Jobs and Fair Work and Net Zero, Energy and Transport briefs. She also stood for her party’s leadership, losing out to Anas Sarwar.  

The Herald: Kate Forbes

2018 - Kate Forbes MSP 

Kate Forbes is among our most prescient picks for the award, though few could have foreseen how swift her rise would be. Appointed Deputy Finance Secretary in 2018, she was propelled into the job of Cabinet Secretary for Finance almost on the eve of the budget after the fall from grace of her boss Derek Mackay. Keeping the job for three years, she contested the SNP leadership when Nicola Sturgeon stood down this year and came close to winning. Turning down a ministerial post from winner Humza Yousaf, she has returned to the back benches.

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2019 - Ross Greer MSP 

The Green’s Ross Greer has cultivated a strong media profile since being elected to Holyrood at the age of 21 – the Parliament’s youngest MSP. The Scottish Greens spokesman for International Development, External Affairs, Education, Skills, Culture and Media, he has spoken out against NATO, the monarchy and the Israel-Gaza war.  

2022 - Neil Gray MSP 

Last year’s winner, The SNP’s Neil Gray, collected the One to Watch award after joining the Scottish Government in January this year. He joined the Parliament in 2021, and has served as both Minister for Culture, Europe and International Development, and Cabinet Secretary for Wellbeing Economy, Fair Work and Energy. The MSP has also helped lead Government efforts to support Ukrainian refugees in Scotland.