WHEN it came to choosing our politician of the year, we soon realised that the choice came down to two people.

There were honourable mentions for Joanna Cherry MP, for Keith Brown MSP for his successes as deputy leader of the SNP, for Dr Philippa Whitford MP and for Health Secretary Jeane Freeman MSP. First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is always on the shortlist but Andy Wightman MSP of the Scottish Greens was the only politician from another party to be even considered, such has been the pathetic nature of the contributions from the Unionist opposition parties in a year when only the SNP has distinguished itself in both parliaments.

In the end it was impossible to differentiate between two big hitters for the SNP in Holyrood and Westminster respectively, which is why the award goes jointly to Mike Russell MSP and Ian Blackford MP.

READ MORE: 2018 Year in Review: Part One

The National: Mike Russell

Russell appeared to be in the twilight stage of his political career when he was dramatically brought back to the fore as Scotland’s Brexit Minister by Nicola Sturgeon in August 2016. Faced with an entirely new portfolio and a Tory government in which chaos was only just beginning to emerge, Russell became the voice of sanity in the whole clusterbùrach of Brexit as he fought ceaselessly to put forward Scotland’s case for staying in the single market and the customs union.

There is a marked contrast between his intelligent, principled stand and the sleekit deviousness and sheer mendacity of the Tory government.

Now as Cabinet Secretary for Government Business and Constitutional Relations, Russell is proving highly influential as the Scottish Government continues to deal with a mess that was not of Scotland’s making.

The National: Ian Blackford

The SNP’s leader in Westminster, Ian Blackford, has also had an outstanding year. He gave us the political moment of 2018 when on June 13 in the House of Commons he refused to accept Scotland’s voice being ignored in the EU Withdrawal Bill and was suspended by Speaker John Bercow, leading to the dramatic walkout of the entire SNP contingent during Prime Minister’s Questions.

READ MORE: Drama and chaos at Westminster as SNP walk out of Commons

He has been far more successful in grilling Theresa May than the official leader of the opposition and has argued Scotland’s case against the Brexit madness with passion and sincerity that has impressed plenty people outwith the SNP.

It could be pointed out that, given the British state apparatus, neither Russell nor Blackford could have won the war against Brexit lunacy, but their battling approach has brought great credit on themselves, the SNP and Scotland, and both politicians are also making massive contributions to the Yes movement.