The Holyrood Garden Party and Political Awards is an unmissable fixture in the Scottish political calendar. This year, as Scotland rebuilds, the event is an opportunity to bring back some joy into all our lives.
A week has always been a long time in politics, but in this last year, time, politics and life itself have taken on a whole new dynamic. The pandemic forced us all into a national lockdown. We all had to adapt to a changed world. For the Scottish Parliament, that meant finding a new way to do politics.
But we have come through it and as we rebuild our country and reunite with friends, family and work colleagues, we are all ready to let down our hair.
In June 2018 Holyrood magazine launched the ‘Holyrood Garden Party and Political Awards’, a new gathering bringing together the body politic and its followers to have a good time, and a temporary ceasefire in political hostilities. Our awards were anything but po-faced, celebrating everything from the politician that had laid the most ‘flushable’ motion through to the MSPs that truly deserved to be called our ‘heroes’.
The Holyrood Garden Party quickly secured its place as the most unmissable event on the political calendar and in 2019 it was voted ‘Event of the Year’ in the annual Scottish magazine industry awards. 2019 was also the Scottish Parliament’s 20th anniversary and gave us an opportunity to celebrate the brilliant, the banal and the quite simply bizarre, not from just the past political year but also from two decades of devolution.
And then came COVID.
The 2020 garden party was cancelled. Our plans to mark the veterans that had first been elected in 1999 in the first parliament and who were now standing down at the end of the fifth were shelved. The ‘End of an Era’ went unmarked with the fizz put on ice.
And so, with the fifth parliament at an end and the election bringing with it a whole new crop of MSPs, this will be a celebration of the new session and a fitting closure to the old. Former MSPs, along with all those now sitting in the sixth parliament, will be honoured during the usual irreverent evening of politics, comedy and song.
NOTE: Nominations for the awards will cover the 2019 to 2020 parliamentary year the Garden Party missed because of the pandemic as well as the start of the new session. Awards run from June 2019 to July 2021 and can include former MSPs as well as current.
Former political adviser turned comedian Matt Forde will once again be MC for the evening, with MP4, the rock band made up of four MPs, providing some tunes… The format will be a pre-dinner drinks reception, tables for dinner, and a sprinkling of political awards and chat throughout that take a more satirical view of how politics is conducted and reported within the Scottish Parliament.
A new addition to this year’s event, by popular demand from guests of previous years, is the ‘Editor’s Club’ after-party, which will take place in the John Hope Gateway at the Botanic Garden. The ‘Editor’s Club’ will be an altogether more sublime affair with music, dancing and ongoing chat. This will be a time to really kick back and relax. And with DJ Stuart Cosgrove spinning the decks, it will be soul all the way.