Ruth Davidson crowned Scotland's Politician of the Year once again
Ruth Davidson has been crowned as Scotland's Politician of the Year for the second year in a row.
The Scottish Conservative leader became the first Tory to win the honour last year - and she repeated her success after her party had its best Westminster result for decades in June’s snap general election.
While the Tories south of the border lost MPs, Ms Davidson’s Scottish party ended up winning 13 seats in Scotland.
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Speaking at a ceremony at Edinburgh’s Prestonfield House Hotel, she said: “I accept this as the team captain of a side that outperformed all expectations over the last 18 months, and I am very proud of the team I am building.”
The Conservative saw off competition from both Brexit Minister Mike Russell and Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie to take the honour, which was awarded by The Herald newspaper.
Ms Davidson was also named as the E-Politician of the Year for her use of Twitter.
SNP MP Alison Thewliss won the award for the Best Scot at Westminster, for her dogged pursuit of the Conservative government over welfare changes which have been branded the “rape clause”.
As part of reforms to the benefits system which came in in April, families can only claim tax credits for their first two children, although women are exempt from this if they can show that a child was conceived by rape.
A powerful speech by Kezia Dugdale, condemning the system as an “an absolutely sickening state of affairs”, saw the former Scottish Labour leader win the Donald Dewar Debater of the Year award.
As MSPs in Holyrood sat in silence, Ms Dugdale read out an email she had received from a woman who had had a baby as a result of rape, in which she said there was “no way I could complete that awful form of shame, no matter what the consequences”.
Amanda Kopel, the widow of the former Dundee United footballer Frank Kopel, was named Public Campaigner of the Year for her tireless work to extend the provision of free personal care to those aged under 65 with degenerative conditions.
Her family had to pay for care after the former footballer was diagnosed with dementia at the age of 59, but after her campaigning efforts First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced in her programme for government this year that the change will be made.
Mrs Kopel said she felt like she had “scored a winning goal after 52 months of campaigning” when the SNP leader made that announcement.
But now she said the changes may not come in until 2019 as she said her campaign was “going into extra time”.
As she accepted the honour she urged politicians to act sooner, saying: “I’m not ashamed to stand here tonight and to ask and to plead and to beg, and the ask the powers that be, please help these people.”
Meanwhile Labour MSP Monica Lennon, who was elected to Holyrood in 2016, picked up the award for One to Watch.
Ms Lennon was honoured for her work to combat period poverty, which has seen her bring forward a members’ bill at Holyrood. She has also sought to end the stigma surrounding drug and alcohol abuse, making a moving speech at Holyrood about her father’s battle with alcoholism, which led to his death.
Former health secretary Alex Neil was named as the Committee MSP of the Year for the work he had done on Holyrood’s Public Audity Committee in holding the Scottish Police Authority to account - notably telling its then chairman “It’s not the Kremlin you are running.”
Green MSP Andy Wightman collected the honour for Community MSP of the Year for his efforts to combat problems caused by holiday lets in Edinburgh, after his research showed that there are some 6,200 properties available for short term rentals.
The Politics in Business Award went to Conservative finance spokesman Murdo Fraser after he repeatedly challenged the Scottish Government on the impact of its business rates revaluation.
Lastly Aberdeen City Council leader Jenny Laing was chosen as the Scottish Local Politician of the Year, after defying Labour Party bosses to form a coalition administration with the Conservatives after May’s local government elections. Last year under her leadership, Aberdeen became the first council to raise money from the capital markets as it launched index-linked bonds.