Ruth Davidson, Monica Lennon, Alison Thewliss and Kezia Dugdale among honourees at Scottish Politician of the Year ceremony

Ruth Davidson became the first Tory to win Scottish Politician of the Year in 2016 (Yui Mok/PA)
Ruth Davidson became the first Tory to win Scottish Politician of the Year in 2016 (Yui Mok/PA)

SCOTTISH Conservative leader Ruth Davidson scooped the top honour at the Scottish Politician of the Year Awards on Thursday 16 November.

It is the second year in a row the party leader has been named Scottish Politician of the Year.

Also receiving awards on the night were former Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale for her passionate speech decrying the controversial rape clause, SNP MP Alison Thewliss for her campaign against the same clause and Labour MSP Monica Lennon for her work tackling period poverty.

Amanda Kopel, widow of the former Dundee United footballer Frank Kopel, was recognised for the success of her ‘Frank’s Law’ campaign, which aimed to extend provision of free personal care to those aged under 65 with degenerative conditions.

Speaking at the ceremony at Edinburgh’s Prestonfield House Hotel, Ruth Davidson paid tribute to the Scottish Conservative ‘team.’
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.” 

Ms Davidson 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.

SNP MP Alison Thewliss won the award for the Best Scot at Westminster for her campaign against 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.

Outrage at introduction of tax credit ‘rape clause’

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 implement ‘Frank’s Law’.

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.

Widow of Frank Kopel ‘over the moon’ about personal care campaign success

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.”

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.

Glasgow Airport set to provide free sanitary products

 

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.

MSP Monica Lennon reveals anger, guilt and sadness at devastation inflicted by her dad’s drink problem

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