Scotland politics

Nicola Sturgeon named the Herald's Scottish Politician of Year

Nicola Sturgeon speaking at rally during the independence referendum campaign Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The award recognised the high-profile role played by Ms Sturgeon during the independence referendum campaign

Nicola Sturgeon has been named Scotland's Politician of the Year the day after becoming the country's first female leader.

First Minister Ms Sturgeon was awarded the honour by The Herald newspaper.

The new SNP leader played a high-profile and influential role during the independence referendum campaign.

She saw off competition from Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson and Green party co-convener Patrick Harvie to win the title for a third time.

As she collected the award at a ceremony at Edinburgh's Prestonfield House hotel on Thursday evening, Ms Sturgeon said: "If I was to say this was the biggest honour I have been given this week I think I would probably be lying, but this is a very close second.

"We have had the most amazing year in Scotland. If I can say that, as someone who was on the losing side of the referendum, that tells you how special 2014 has been for our country.

"Let us continue to debate our differences with vigour and with passion, because that is part of our DNA as Scotland, but let us do something else in 2015, let us focus on the many, many things that unite us as a country."

'Gold watch'

Ms Sturgeon also picked up another honour, with judges naming her E-Politician of the Year.

There was a Lifetime Achievement award for the man who led the successful campaign to keep Scotland in the UK.

Former chancellor Alistair Darling returned to frontline politics to take on the job of heading the cross-party Better Together campaign.

Receiving the award, which he said he supposed was "the equivalent of the political gold watch", he aid: "I will still be around. I am sure I will have one or two things to say about the country I love."

Image copyright AP
Image caption Mr Darling, who led the campaign for a No vote, received a Lifetime Achievement award

Gordon Brown was also honoured for his contribution to Scottish politics in the last 12 months, with the Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath MP named as Best Scot at Westminster for the fourth time.

Ms Davidson picked up the prize for the Donald Dewar Debater of the Year, with judges praising a highly personal speech she made as Holyrood debated the introduction of same-sex marriage legislation.

Campaigner awards

Labour's Hugh Henry, the convener of the Scottish Parliament's Public Audit Committee, was honoured for speaking out against the politicisation of Holyrood's committee system, condemning the "cult of obedience" among MSPs after the SNP used its majority on his committee to water down a report.

Community MSP of the Year, a new category introduced this year, was awarded to independent Highlands and Islands MSP John Finnie after he highlighted concerns about police officers on patrol carrying firearms.

The charities Barnardo's Scotland, the Aberlour Childcare Trust and Who Cares? Scotland jointly won the award for Public Campaign of the Year.

Gordon Aikman, who has worked to boost awareness of and funding for Motor Neuron Disease after being diagnosed with the condition, was also honoured for his efforts.

The campaigner, who told of his plight in a newspaper article which stated "I'm dying. And fast", was given a special Judges Award.

The Politics in Business Award went to Enterprise Minister Fergus Ewing in recognition of his efforts to help business across the country, while Glasgow City Council leader Gordon Matheson was named as Scottish Local Politician of the Year after the city successfully hosted the Commonwealth Games.

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