Scotland politics

Alex Salmond named the Herald's Scottish Politician of Year

alex Salmond
Image caption Mr Salmond has now been named Scottish politician of the year three times

First Minister Alex Salmond has been named Scottish Politician of the Year by The Herald newspaper.

The SNP leader, who has campaigned for independence throughout his political career, was honoured less than a year before the referendum on the issue.

He is the first politician to win the award three times.

Mr Salmond received the honour hours after MSPs at Holyrood unanimously approved the legislation to enable next year's referendum to take place.

He saw off competition from Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon - herself a two times winner of the award - and Holyrood Presiding Officer Tricia Marwick.

Mr Salmond won the honour in 2007, after his party formed a minority government at Holyrood, and again in 2011, the year the SNP became the first party to secure an overall majority in the Scottish Parliament.

'Show the mettle'

Accepting the award, the first minister said: "There has been no better time in terms of being in public life in Scotland.

"This is the moment for everyone to show what they can do in the Scottish Parliament and I have no doubt people will rise to the challenge.

"This next year will show the mettle of Scottish politicians, people who aspire to represent and lead the nation.

"I'm sure we will have a debate - a result I hope, but certainly a debate - which will be worthy of the nation we seek to serve."

Former presiding officer and veteran Nationalist Sir George Reid, who is recovering from surgery for bladder cancer, was awarded a lifetime achievement award.

Although he retired from Holyrood in 2007, he has remained active in public life, and was knighted last year.

The other individual awards were split between the SNP, Labour and the Greens.

Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont collected the Donald Dewar Debater of the Year award for her combative performances against Mr Salmond at first minister's questions.

Party colleague Douglas Alexander was declared Best Scot at Westminster, with the shadow foreign secretary honoured for his stance on the conflict in Syria and what judges described as his thoughtful contribution to the debate.

Wider audience

Labour MSP Kezia Dugdale, who was elected to Holyrood in 2011, was named One to Watch after she was promoted to become the party's education spokeswoman at Holyrood, and for her campaigning efforts against payday loans.

The Politics and Business Award went to Rural Affairs and Environment Secretary Richard Lochhead, who was honoured for his efforts to promote the Scottish food and drink sector around the world.

Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill collected the award for Political Impact of the Year, for pushing through the merger of Scotland's eight regional police forces into the new national body Police Scotland.

Green MSP Patrick Harvie, who has called for MSPs to be allowed to tweet from Holyrood's chamber in a bid to open up politics to a wider audience, was named E-Politician of the Year.

The Local Politician of the Year award went to councillors Gary Robinson, Angus Campbell and Steven Heddle - the leaders of Sheltand, Western Isles and Orkney councils - for their campaign for more powers to be devolved to the islands.

Housing and homeless charity Shelter Scotland won the Public Campaign or Campaigner of the Year Award for its interventions in the debate about welfare changes, branded by some the "bedroom tax".

The judges felt that the campaign helped secure cash from Finance Secretary John Swinney to mitigate against the impact of the policy.

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