Ruth Davidson first Tory to win '˜Scotland's Politician of the Year'

Ruth Davidson has become the first Conservative to be named as Scotland's Politician of the Year.

Leader of the Scottish Conservatives, Ruth Davidson was addressing English colleagues. Picture: Getty Images

The Tory leader lifted the honour, which is awarded by The Herald newspaper, after a year which saw her party win a record 31 seats in the Scottish Parliament and overtake Labour to become the second largest party there.

Ms Davidson also won plaudits for her performance against leading Conservative Brexiteer Boris Johnson in a debate at Wembley just days before the vote on European Union membership.

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Her performance in that TV clash also saw her scoop another honour, with the Conservative collecting the prize for Donald Dewar Debater of the Year.

She received the awards at a ceremony at Edinburgh’s Prestonfield House Hotel after what she described as being an “extraordinary year”.

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She said: “I always believed there was a way back for the centre right in politics, because we need to have a proper debate in Scotland.”

The Conservative, who became leader of her party after being elected to Holyrood in 2011, saw off competition from both First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and her Deputy First Minister John Swinney for the top prize.

Former Liberal Democrat leader Sir Menzies Campbell was also honoured for his career in politics, collecting a lifetime achievement award.

Sir Menzies, who was an Olympic athlete and a lawyer before entering the House of Commons, represented the North East Fife area for almost three decades between 1987 and 2015, when he stood down.

The political veteran led the Liberal Democrats between 2006 and 2007 following the resignation of Charles Kennedy.

He described the award as a “first instalment”, declaring: “There’s plenty of life in this old dog.”

Scottish Secretary David Mundell was selected as the Best Scot at Westminster after he successfully steered the 2016 Scotland Act , granting Holyrood new powers over tax and welfare, through the UK Parliament.

Mr Mundell, who was praised for maintaining good relationships with the Scottish Government, was given the award in the year that he came out, making him the first openly gay member of a Conservative cabinet.

Liberal Democrat MSP Alex Cole-Hamilton was named as Holyrood’s One to Watch, picking up the award just five months after he was elected to the Scottish Parliament.

The former charity worker had fought a high profile campaign to win the Edinburgh Western constituency in May.

Retired Conservative MSP Mary Scanlon collected the award for Committee MSP of the Year, for her work on Holyrood’s Public Audit Committee.

Meanwhile Labour’s Jackie Baillie was declared the Community MSP of the Year, after she saw off the advance of the SNP to successfully retain her Dumbarton constituency.

With the Faslane naval yard in her constituency Ms Baille also remained a vocal supporter of Trident, despite Scottish Labour voting to adopt an anti-nuclear stance.

Other politicians to be honoured were Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing, who collected the Politics in Business Award, for his efforts to retain the steelyards at Dalzell and Clydebrige.

And former Labour leader Johann Lamont was named as the E-Politician of the Year, after moving to the backbenches gave her a new lease of life as a Twitter commentator.

Mark Macmillan, the Labour leader of Renfrewshire Council, was declared Scottish Local Politician of the Year for his efforts to promote Paisley. While the town contains some of Scotland’s most deprived areas, Mr Macmillan is spearheading a bid to have it declared as the UK City of Culture for 2021.

Opponents of the Scottish Government’s named person legislation were also honoured, with the No to Named Persons (NO2NP) chosen as the winner of the Public Campaign of the Year category.

They received the award after a legal challenge at the UK Supreme Court forced ministers to make changes to the scheme and delayed its roll-out across Scotland.