Holyrood Garden Party & Political Awards 2024

The Holyrood Garden Party and Political Awards is the unmissable fixture in the Scottish political calendar for politicians, their staff, political journalists, the business community, and the public affairs sector, and is a fun opportunity to remind ourselves that cross-party relations aren’t always that cross!

The 2024 Holyrood Garden Party and Political Awards returns to its September slot this year and given we are celebrating the 25th anniversary of both the Scottish Parliament and of Holyrood magazine, there will be a particular focus on a quarter of a century of devolution and the characters that have delivered it. Held the week that MSPs return to parliament after summer recess, it is a nice ‘welcome back’ to parliamentarians and their staff.

The main event will be held as usual in a beautiful marquee in the grounds of Edinburgh’s Royal Botanic Garden. The format will be a pre-dinner drinks reception, tables for dinner, and a sprinkling of political awards and chat throughout – with a tone that takes a more satirical view of how politics is conducted and reported within the Scottish Parliament. Former political adviser turned comedian Matt Forde will once again be MC for the evening and he will be joined by a special guest for a bit of a grilling on all things political and more…

The formal proceedings will be followed by the popular ‘Editor’s Club’ after-party, which will take place in the John Hope Gateway at the Botanic Garden and just a short walk (or stagger) through the gardens from the main event in the marquee and be the setting for an altogether more sublime affair with music, dancing, and ongoing chat. A time to really kick back and relax. And throw some shapes on the disco floor.

Follow the link here to see all the photos from last year’s  event.

(entry period from June 2023 to July 2024) 


MSP of the Year
in association with Coca Cola European Partners

While awards of this nature tend to always be reserved for the party leaders, there are many talented MSPs who sit squarely behind the leader and help their star shine bright, so nominations for this award should cast the net a little wider than just the usual suspects and answer, ‘who has really shone?’ 

Tweet of the Day
in association with True North

This award will be presented to the MSP who has used X (Twitter) or any other social media platform to best effect to be witty, to inform or even to shut down critics. The judges will be looking for eloquence, dignity, humour, and grace, and all in the best possible taste.  

Political Staffer of the Year
in association with the Association for Project Management

A hugely popular award which is presented to someone who works behind the scenes for their MSP and has demonstrated a real commitment to digging that bit deeper, going the extra mile and unearthing facts, figures and human stories that assist politicians in making good policy or in simply changing one person’s life.

Backbencher of the Year
in association with Stromar

It takes a certain type of MSP to be able to make their presence felt without the natural platform of a frontbench position. Who has made themselves noticed, gone against a conventional party line or simply put forward a point that forcibly cuts through a lot of party-political rhetoric? 

One to Watch
in association with Thistle Wind Partners

The May 2021 election saw an enormous turnover in terms of the MSPs now sitting in the parliament for its sixth session. A much more diverse Chamber with new voices and a whole range of life experiences. Who has already made a mark in the debating chamber or gained a reputation in committee and is the one to watch from the 2021 intake or been in the parliament for longer but now really finding their feet?

Political Hero of the Year
in association with Diageo

Sometimes a cause or a campaign inspires a politician or a group of MSPs to cross party lines or to just work tirelessly to do the right thing. This award will go to an MSP or a group of MSPs who have gained respect from across the chamber for their work in championing a particular cause or for achieving a tangible result. 

Flushable Motion of the Year
in association with Scottish Water

Parliamentary motions are used by MSPs as a way to initiate debate or suggest a particular course of action but increasingly have become more and more obtuse vehicles to offer support, congratulate or even endorse a particular product or service. They go from congratulating a local football team to questioning a reduction in the size of a chocolate bar to welcoming community spirit among a seal population in Orkney. This award also goes a bit further and will recognise the most absurd motions, questions, or even points of order to be raised.

The Powering Change Award
in association with SSE

This award will recognise the real powerhouses of the parliament, its committees. The committees provide a crucial role in bringing expertise to bear on the legislative process and test theories, assumptions, and practice. Which committee or convenor has helped inspire change through the rigorous gathering of evidence and questioning of witnesses? 

Speech of the Year
in association with Muir Mhòr Offshore Wind Farm

A good speech can silence the chamber, bring a tear to a glass eye and surprise in its ability to capture a moment in time. This award will go to the MSP who has managed to impress with their ability to articulate their views on an issue with passion, intellect, and emotion. 

Best Scot at Westminster
in association with Chivas 

Which parliamentarian has best made the case for Scottish interests at Westminster? Is there an MP that stands out for presenting Scotland in the best light, for pushing a Scottish cause and really standing up for their constituents and the nation? 

Open All Hours Award
in association with Scottish Grocers' Federation (SGF)

Which MSP gets your vote for going the extra mile to help their constituents, colleagues and staff, whose door is always open and for whom the words ‘business closed’ never feature? This is a parliamentarian who can be relied upon to get a job done and whose tenacity to get a problem fixed knows no bounds. 

The Business of Politics Award
in association with Scotch Whisky Association (SWA)

This award recognises the parliamentarian who understands the importance of Scotland’s business community, an MSP who bangs the drum for our small business owners, who champions the cause of industry and who puts the business into politics and makes it work for the country.

Green Giant Award
in association with Electricity System Operator (ESO)

With the First Minister declaring a Climate emergency, Glasgow having hosted COP26 and two Green MSPs now in the ministerial team, the fight against climate raced up the political agenda during the last parliamentary session in Scotland and is now at the fore. Which MSP has really embraced the challenge and made a difference to the environment? 

Lifetime Achievement Award
in association with Royal Bank of Scotland

Awarded to someone who had dedicated their life to Scottish politics and has managed to cut across party-political boundaries to demonstrate a commitment to public service, statecraft, and the democratic process. Someone woven into Scotland’s political fabric. Not open to nominations.

Treasurer of the Scottish Parliamentary Journalists Association and Political Editor, Press and Journal
Convener of the Scottish Parliamentary Journalists Association and Scotland Political Editor, LBC
Political Commentator and Herald Columnist
Ken Macintosh Headshot
Presiding Officer, 2016-2021
Rachael Hamilton MSP Headshot
Scottish Conservative MSP for Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire and member of Holyrood magazine's Editorial Panel
Founder and Director, Diffley Partnership
Head of Public Affairs, RBS
Professor of politics at the University of Strathclyde and senior research fellow at NatCen Social Research
Scottish Labour MSP for the West Scotland Region and member of Holyrood magazine's editorial panel
Scottish Labour MSP for the Glasgow Region and member of Holyrood magazine's editorial panel
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State in the Scotland Office and member of Holyrood magazine's editorial panel
Deputy First Minister, Cabinet Secretary for Economy and Gaelic, and member of Holyrood magazine's Editorial Panel
MD of Holyrood Communications and editor of Holyrood magazine
SNP MSP for Aberdeenshire East and member of Holyrood magazine's editorial panel

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