LABOUR’S Anas Sarwar has been named Scottish Politician of the Year, becoming the first from his party to win the prize for more than a decade.

Sarwar collected the award, along with the prize for the Donald Dewar Debater of the Year, in a ceremony at Edinburgh’s Prestonfield House Hotel.

It was the first time the event, organised by The Herald newspaper, had been held in three years due to the pandemic.

Sarwar was up against Nicola Sturgeon – who has won the award a record five times – as well as Scottish Green co-leaders Patrick Harvie and Lorna Slater, who were nominated after they took the party into government as part of a partnership deal with the SNP.

Collecting the award, Sarwar said he “really wasn’t expecting that”.

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He thanked party colleagues, staff and fellow MSPs for their “incredible support and encouragement” since becoming Scottish Labour leader in February 2021.

Elsewhere, the Public Campaign of the Year award was presented to Back Off Scotland, together with Green MSP Gillian Mackay for their efforts to establish buffer zones at abortion clinics.

The Back off Scotland group has worked to publicise the impact protests outside facilities can have on both patients and staff.

Mackay is bringing a members bill to Holyrood in a bid to prevent anti-abortion demonstrations from taking place near clinics with Sturgeon having already pledged the Scottish Government’s support on this.

It was also a successful night for the SNP with Neil Gray picking up the One to Watch award after joining the Scottish Government in January this year.

His brief, as minister for culture, Europe and international development, has seen him given responsibility for efforts to support Ukrainian refugees in Scotland.

Fellow SNP politician Stewart McDonald was named the Best Scot at Westminster for his work as the party’s defence spokesperson.

Writing on Twitter, McDonald said: “Honoured to win ‘Best Scot at Westminster’ at last night’s @heraldscotland political awards.

“Thank you to the judges for recognising my work on defence, foreign policy & Ukraine, and a huge thanks to my first-class staff team.”

The MP added that his award was “currently being inspected by the boss” which was followed by an image of his cat.

Former lord advocate Lady Elish Angiolini meanwhile was honoured with a lifetime achievement award in recognition of public service.

She was the first woman to be named as lord advocate when she took on the role in 2006. After leaving that post in 2011 her work has seen her lead an investigation for the Scottish Government into practices at crematoria following the Mortonhall baby ashes scandal, as well as producing a report for the UK Government into deaths in police custody.

Lady Angiolini,said: “This is a truly fantastic honour, it is a really profound honour for me.”

Labour’s Richard Leonard was named as Committee MSP of the Year for his role as convener of the Public Audit Committee which probed the problems with the delivery of two new CalMac ferries.

Labour MSP Paul Sweeney meanwhile collected the honour for Community MSP of the Year for his efforts to tackle drugs deaths in Glasgow – work which has seen him team up with campaigner Peter Krykant, who set up a safe consumption facility in a converted ambulance

And Councillor Stephen McCabe, the leader of Inverclyde Council, made it a fifth award for Scottish Labour after he was named Scottish Local Politician of the Year.