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by Staff reporter
16 September 2021
Johann Lamont named MSP of the Year at Holyrood Political Awards

Johann Lamont named MSP of the Year at Holyrood Political Awards

Former Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont has been named MSP of the Year at the 2021 Holyrood Garden Party and Political Awards.

Lamont, who stood down as an MSP at the election, was recognised for her tireless campaigning for the rights of women and girls throughout her political career.

In a closely fought category, she beat off competition from former Labour colleague Jackie Baillie and finance secretary Kate Forbes.

Award winners were announced at the Royal Botanic Garden in Edinburgh, with former BBC Scotland political editor Brian Taylor picking up the Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of his reporting from the Scottish Parliament.

Taylor, who retired last year after nearly 30 years as political editor, was presented with his award by former presiding officer Ken Macintosh.

Other winners included SNP MP Joanna Cherry, who was named Best Scot at Westminster, and Labour leader Anas Sarwar, who picked up the Speech of the Year Award.

Labour MSP Michael Marra was named One to Watch, while former Green MSP Andy Wightman picked up the Political Hero award and former Labour MSP Neil Findlay was named Backbencher of the Year.

Bruce Crawford, who stood down at the election after 22 years in the Scottish Parliament, picked up the End of an Era Award.

Entertainment was provided by the MC, former political adviser to Tony Blair and now comedian, Matt Forde and the political rock band MP4 – whose members included SNP MP Pete Wishart.

This year’s event took place after a break last year caused by the pandemic.

Holyrood’s managing director Mandy Rhodes said: “It’s been a long time coming, but it was great to have the Garden Party back again and the opportunity to bring together politicians who had been in the parliament since 1999 alongside some new faces.

“As well as recognising the talent we have in the parliament, it was great to honour those who have stepped down, not only Johann Lamont and Neil Findlay, but Bruce Crawford who was ‘in with the bricks’ when the parliament began in 1999.

“The Holyrood Garden Party and Political awards has fast become a must-attend event on the political calendar, so we all missed it when it was cancelled last year due to the pandemic. I am so grateful to all those who supported us in making it such an amazing event this time around.” 

Reflecting on his award, Bruce Crawford said: “Thank you to Holyrood magazine and the judging panel for providing me with such a very unexpected and pleasant surprise.

“Over 47 years in public service I was blessed to work with so many fantastic people and organisations.”

Life Achievement recipient Brian Taylor said: “My thanks go to Mandy and the judges for this honour.  To my wife and family for enduring my many eccentricities. To BBC Scotland, for many decades of fair and balanced support. To all my journalistic chums in Holyrood and elsewhere. Stay firm, stay true.”

Full list of winner from the 2021 Holyrood Garden Party & Political Awards

Backbencher of the Year Award: Neil Findlay, Labour
Neil proved himself to be an effective opposition MSP and constant thorn in the government’s side. His contributions helped lead to a government decision to pardon those convicted during the 1984 miners’ strike. He also worked tirelessly to raise questions around Covid in care homes and ongoing issues around vaginal mesh.

Tweet of the Year Award: Humza Yousaf, SNP
No stranger to shutting down Twitter trolls with witty one-liners, the judges were impressed by Humza’s tweet to George Galloway who had accused the cabinet secretary of being a fake and a poseur. Humza casually reminded his accuser that he himself had once pretended to be a cat on national television, adding that voters would likely show him the “cat flap” at the upcoming election.

One to Watch Award: Michael Marra, Labour
Following an outstanding maiden speech which was widely shared on social media, Michael has shown a great command for the parliamentary chamber, catching the attention of the media and opposition MSPs alike. Already making an impact as Labour’s education spokesman, he is definitely one to watch.

End of an Era Award: Bruce Crawford, SNP
This award is for MSPs who were “in with the bricks” at Holyrood, a description befitting Bruce who was first elected in 1999. In his 22 years in the Scottish Parliament, Bruce had over 30 roles, notably as SNP whip and cabinet secretary for parliamentary business. He also chaired marathon sessions on the Brexit bills while convener of the Finance and Constitution Committee.

Staffer of the Year Award: Lily Humphreys, Lib Dems
Lily has been a researcher for the Scottish Liberal Democrats since 2017, working for Liam McArthur and Tavish Scott before being promoted to policy and research manager after this year’s election. She is described as a “bloodhound” when it comes to research, with the patience, attention to detail and political awareness to hunt down the information that really matters.

Best Scot at Westminster Award: Joanna Cherry, SNP
Joanna impressed the judges with her groundbreaking legal work on the proroguing of parliament and for consistently being a thorn in the side of the UK Government – and her own party – on matters of principle, despite being subjected to a fair amount of abuse for doing so.

The Flushable Motion Award: Liam McArthur, Lib Dems
Liam wins for a motion asking the parliament to welcome the news that despite its rare complexion, an albino seal pup had been accepted by the Orkney seal colony and integrated with the other seals. Liam asked the parliament to recognise that the strong sense of community spirit in Orkney is not just restricted to human beings.

The Open All Hours Award: Daniel Johnson, Labour
The pandemic made us all realise just how important our frontline workers are, from doctors and nurses to delivery drivers and shop staff. Daniel took a member’s bill through parliament which made abusing or assaulting shop workers a specific offence. The judges were keen to recognise his efforts. 

The Speech of the Year Award: Anas Sarwar, Labour
The Labour leader impressed the judges with his speech on the Black Lives Matter movement. It was a speech that should have made every MSP and wider civic Scotland uncomfortable as he pointed out the lack of people of colour in positions of power or leadership across Scotland’s key institutions.

The Green Giant Award: Roseanna Cunningham, SNP
Roseanna was recognised for her longstanding contribution on environmental issues both as an MSP and as a government minister. The judges said she had brought calm and informed leadership and would be remembered for setting ambitious climate change targets and for her commitment to improving Scotland’s natural landscape.

MSP of the Year Award: Johann Lamont, Labour
Johann has been a consistent advocate for the rights of women and girls throughout her parliamentary career, using her legislative knowledge, political intelligence, passion for justice and sheer strength of argument to ensure positive change. This was particularly the case over the last year with her detailed work on the six-word amendment to the Forensic Medical Services Bill and for impassioned arguments during the hate crime bill.

Wag of the Year Award: Jackson Carlaw, Conservatives
Jackson picks up the award given to the MSP who kept us all entertained during the year. In these serious times he brought wit and levity to the chamber – no easy feat.

Political Hero of the Year Award: Andy Wightman, Independent
This award is given to a politician who works tirelessly, often across party lines, to do the right thing, gaining respect across the chamber. This year the judges chose Andy, a classic political hero with a larger-than-life character and a big intellect. He put principle before party, standing up for what he believed was right.

Lifetime Achievement Award: Brian Taylor
This year’s Life Achievement Award goes to former BBC Scotland political editor Brian Taylor. The award is for those who have dedicated much of their life to Scottish politics, working across party political boundaries and showing a commitment to public service and the democratic process. In his fair and scrupulous reporting from Holyrood, Brian has done just that.

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