Alex Cole-Hamilton is 'One to Watch' at political awards
EDINBURGH Western Liberal Democrat MSP Alex Cole-Hamilton has been named the 'One to Watch' at the Scottish Politician of the Year awards.
With a third of Holyrood’s 129 MSPs new to the Scottish Parliament at the May elections, there was potentially a lot of competition.
Mr Cole-Hamilton was chosen for the accolade, intended to recognise rising stars, from a shortlist of four, including the SNP’s Jeane Freeman and Conservatives Ross Thomson and Adam Tomkins.
The judges said they were impressed by the breadth and depth of talent being attracted to the parliament as its powers increased.
Since becoming an MSP at the third attempt in May, Mr Cole-Hamilton has campaigned on a range of issues from the massive housing developments planned for places such as Cammo to Edinburgh Airport’s controversial flight-path trials.
And he clashed with Scottish Government ministers over the delays to the new Queensferry Crossing, accusing them of “putting their fingers in their ears” to avoid being told of hold-ups on construction of the latest Forth bridge before the Holyrood elections.
He was made his party’s health spokesman and has spoken out on mental health, cuts to drug and alcohol funding and GP shortages among other topics.
And he is already tipped as a future Scottish Lib Dem leader.
Mr Cole-Hamilton said: “I’m absolutely chuffed to bits to get the award. To be recognised among nearly 60 new MSPs, all of whom could have won it, because they are all very talented, is a huge honour.”
The main Scottish Politician of the Year award went to Scottish Tory leader and Edinburgh Central MSP Ruth Davidson after she led her party to overtake Labour as the second biggest party at Holyrood.
She beat off competition from First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Deputy First Minister John Swinney to take the title.
Mr Cole-Hamilton’s first achievement was getting elected in Edinburgh Western where he took the seat from the SNP.
“At one point you could get odds of 65/1 against me,” he said. “A lot of people have helped me to get here and I could not have done it without them. I get the glory, but I owe them a massive debt of gratitude.”
He said he had loved every minute of being an MSP.
“Nothing about the job disappoints me. I leap out of bed every morning and enjoy the diversity of the role, the opportunity to help people in real distress but also to stake out the Liberal case in Scottish politics.
“It has been a really steep learning curve – I thought I knew a lot about the Scottish Parliament, but I didn’t and I’m learning fast.”
“At local level we have helped people at the end of their tether with some serious issues – people facing eviction or unable to get a council house. We have been able to grease the wheels for them and turn things around, which is tremendously satisfying.”