The Tartan Tights Awards 2014

Hey everyone Welcome to the third annual tartan tights awards. This has been the third year of this blog and so it is only right that those who have made this world a better place gain the recognition they deserve. Forget the queen’s new year’s honours list this is one you really want to win so let’s crack on and see whose won what this year and who has had made the past year more enjoyable, entertaining, stimulating, and thought provoking than it otherwise would have been.

I start this awards ceremony with my first award that of politician of the year. Now what can I say about the winner of this award which hasn’t already been said a million times already. My winner started the year by delivering a brilliant immortal memory at the Shettleston SNP Burns Supper and ended it as leader of her party and our country. My tartan tights politician of the year award goes for the second time in three years to our First Minister the brilliant Nicola Sturgeon.

My young politician of the year
is like last year’s winner Adam Miller someone who cut her political teeth in Shettleston where she stood as her party’s candidate in the by-election caused by the sad and untimely death of Labour councillor George Ryan. Though she didn’t win the seat she put a brave fight and campaigned hard for every vote. A stalwart campaigner for Yes Scotland she has now risen through the ranks of her party and is branch secretary of Shettleston SNP. A young women with a determination to get things done and win a better future for our country, I know we are going to hear a lot more from her in a future she will play her part in shaping my young politician of the year is Laura Doherty.

My Vision of Scotland Award goes to the politician or member of the public who contribute something to improve the quality of life for people in the country. This year the award goes not to a politician but to a campaigner who has done much to secure the right to equal marriage for the LGBT community and brought the issues of trans and inter sex rights to the Scottish Parliament. So it is with great pleasure that I give this very well deserved award to Tom French.

My next award is the Unsung Hero/Heroine Award. This goes to the politician who does not seek the limelight but represents their party with that quiet dignity and diligence which can restore people’s faith in a political system often knocked by those who are not involved because they only read what’s said in the press or reported on TV. This year it’s another heroine and yet again another change of party. The first award went to a woman in the SNP, her successor was a man from the Conservatives. This year it goes to a woman in the Liberal Democrats and if I say so myself it was an absolutely shoe in for the excellent Caron Lindsay.

Now it’s time for the One To Watch Award. As the title suggests this award is for someone whom I think may be worth keeping an eye on and when it comes to this year’s award, this is certainly the case It is I think fair to say that she is someone who I have always rated very highly and someone whom I believe will one day fill the boots of a certain Ms Sturgeon and lead both our party and our country. Like her party leader she started the year at the Shettleston SNP Burns Supper where she gave a brilliant lassies reply. Another of those I tipped for stardom a few years ago and she is one of our country’s brightest and most articulate young voices. My One To Watch award goes to one of the brightest stars in the political galaxy our current Minister For Children. Aileen Campbell.

The next award is the Impact Award. This award goes to the politician who I believe has made the biggest impact on one or possibly more than one issue in the course of the last 12 months. Amongst those considered were newly appointed Education Minister Angela Constance, The Labour Party’s best and brightest talent Jenny Marra, that traditional tartantights favourite and Ms Marra’s tag team teammate Kezia Dugdale, and Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson but in the end there was only one winner and he won by a considerable distance. In the year of our independence referendum he gained more votes for his party and for the yes campaign every time he opened his mouth. The winner of the Impact Award for 2014 is the joint convenor of the Scottish Green Party Patrick Harvie.

My last political award is that of political blogger of the year. In what everyone agrees was a momentous year for Scottish Politics in for Scotland and for Scotland in general there were plenty of blogs to choose from Bella Caledonia, National Collective, and the slightly more controversial Wings Over Scotland amongst those on the side of Yes campaign along of course with my favourite blog of them of All A BurdzEyeView written the woman who is and ever shall be my inspiration Kate Higgins. The Better Together campaign are represented by Caron Lindsay and one or two others which I’ve tended to forget along the way, however though all those mentioned were intelligent thought provoking and immensely enjoyable to read, there was I have to say a very clear winner in this category.
The award for best political blogger 2014 is the man who gave me my first ever guest post on his blog in which I explained why as a transwoman I would be voting Yes in the referendum it’s Paul Kavanagh for weegingerdug.

Now it’s time to focus on the community awards where better to start than with blogger of the year and I have to say that this is and will probably always be one of my hardest decisions. The standard of blogger in Scotland is higher than the hem line of a micro mini skirt and there are many excellent bloggers who are always worth a read. These include the 2013 blogger of the year the original Foodie Quine Claire Jessiman. Caron’s Musings, Mummy Central, by Donna Gorse, and A Life With Frills by Laura Pearson Smith
but my winner is someone who despite the title of her blog, you can always rely on to keep you both entertained and on trend. Our winner may call herself Last Year’s Girl but she is this year’s blogger of the year Lisa-Marie Ferla.

My next award is for the activist of the year. Now before our readers say that this award should be awarded in the politics section, I say that activism is not confined to politics but is also about those people who commit themselves to assisting and empowering others in any number of communities be they christian, cultural, or social. This year award however is going to someone deeply involved in politics. Though a member of the SNP she was also a founder member of the non party group women for independence she travelled all over Scotland with the hope of building a better tomorrow where women’s voices will be not only heard but respected. The winner of activist of the year 2014 is Natalie McGarry.

My young activist of the year is also from the world of politics. A teenager who took on the full might of the better together campaign and emerged not only with credit but credibility she is one of the most outstanding young voices of the future Scotland. My tartan tights young activist of the year is the mighty Saffron Dickson.

Now I move on the subject of poets and poetry, it is time to select my poetry performance of the year. In a year of many so outstanding performances this decision was not an easy one but eventually after changing my mind at least a dozen times I did pick a winner and this year it goes to Sophia Blackwell for 50 minutes of poetic magic in Becoming Wonder Woman her one woman show at the Edinburgh Fringe. This was to paraphrase the words of former Celtic Manager Martin O’Neill 50 minutes of astonishingly brilliant poetry and deservedly walks away with this year’s award.

The next award is for the best show of the fringe. This is never easy because there is so much quality on offer but despite magic of Monkey Poet and his excellently entertaining show Shit Flinger, the amazing Munich by Brendan Dunlea which was and I have to say this the best play I’ve seen on football which wasn’t on the subject of Celtic and too many other quality shows to mention, there was one show which was so totally amazing it stunned me and reduced me tears of rage about what happening to the care system in 21st Century Britain. For that alone and believe that is more than enough the winner of the best show of the fringe 2014 is Can’t Care Won’t Care by Sophia Walker.

Next up is the award for the most original show of the year. Yet again this one occurred in the wee back room at Sammy’s. This year it was the September edition which made me proud to be a part of that great cultural institution that is Words and Music. You see in the run up to the referendum some voices more sensible and cautious than mine wanted a no politics night on the First Monday in September. I however had other ideas and decided that far from having no politics I would on that last First Monday before our historic vote have a referendum special in which performers from Yes and No camps could give their poetic thoughts on whether we would be better together or as an independent nation. Those who were don’t know or even don’t care were also allowed their opinion. Well I didn’t mind if they didn’t know or didn’t care providing they could tell the rest of us why they had come to their conclusion. The result was and I have to say a victory for both poetry and democracy and some of the poems performed by supporters of both sides and neither that night were outstanding. So yet again Words and Music wins the most original show in what could be described as a champion night for spoken word.

Talking of champions, brings me on to my equality champion award. This one is for the man or women who has really made a stand for equality in this last year and there are no shortage of top quality candidates for this one. Patrick Harvie, the Equality Network’s Tom French and Stonewall’s Sophie Bridger were all major contenders but in the end my choice was someone whose very public stance on LGBTI bullying earned her a few more gold stars than I would normally give to a Tory. That said she did inspire one of my best blogs of the year on LGBTI bullying in school and that is why My equality champion for 2014
is the leader of the Scottish Conservative Party Ruth Davidson.

My award for quote of the year was never going to be easy especially in a year filled with so many memorable one liners but it has to be the Mailman Delivers from Commonwealth Games boxer Charlie Flynn. Had I gone the political route Charlie’s namesake Labour MP Paul Flynn would have won it in a canter as he defined the Gordon Brown vow with the following statement. ‘A political vow is a solemn binding promise that endures until the votes are counted’.

Moving on from words to music it’s time for musician of the year and this has to be the toughest year so far in what has always been one of the hardest categories in which to select a winner. In a year when I saw many new musicians such as the excellent Declan Welch, the ever entertaining Zara Gladman aka Lady Alba, Billy Bates, Georgia Gordon, and Laura Corrigan I really was spoiled for choice but in a really close contest I decided to call it for Declan Welch not just because he has a fantastic voice but also because he has a gift for song writing which is in itself a real talent. Mark my words and mark them well, this is a young man with a very big future

My vocalist of the year which is an award I always keep separate from musician of the year is always a pleasure for me as ever since I can remember I have always loved quality singers.
This year were a couple of vocalists who stood out for me. One was Zara Gladman and the other was a certain local lass for whom I have always had a soft spot. I mean she is after all a Baillieston girl and this award is coming back to the village due to a brilliant set at the St Patrick’s Day family event my tartantights vocalist of the year is our very own Michelle McManus.

The event of the year has to be the Independence Referendum or the Commonwealth Games. At least it does if you believe the mainstream press. I however challenge that perception and say that my personal event of the year was to be asked to take part in one of the most liberating spoken word events I have ever participated in. It was the final Saturday of this year’s fringe and on that day I attended and performed in the Other Voices event organised by the wonderful and majestically talented Fay Roberts at my Edinburgh local the Banshee Labyrinth and gave according to good friend John McGlade the best performance he has ever seen me give and I have to take that as a great compliment as John and I have attended many events together over the years. Not only that but the quality of performers at that event was quite simply breathtaking and it was a real honour to be included in such a line up.

Next I move on to the best new band. In what was a quiet year for bands, the stand out act was one I saw at the Danny Kyle Open Stage on a cold January afternoon. This band have since went on to further success at Scottish Traditional Music Awards and a band I think we are going to hear a lot more of. The tartantights award winners for the best new band are the Scott Wood Trio.

As for the campaign of the year it has to be one which hit all the right notes for all the right reasons. I am pleased to say that though the referendum in which it was born has now passed into the annuals of history, this campaign shows no signs of going away in fact if anything I believe it will get stronger. After all independence is not just a political issue it is also a highly personal one. This is especially true for women and as a transwoman I am exceptionally proud to be part of this ongoing fight to win full equality for all women. My campaign of the year is one I will proudly wear my tartan tights for every day of my life Women For Independence.

Now I don’t know about you but to me every campaign every campaign needs good songs to get those involved singing along and in the referendum there is no doubt that the yes campaign had all the best songs Like last year this year winner also went viral on the internet though it did have more competition most noticeably from last year’s winner Citizen Smart whose brilliant take on the pro union bias in their reporting I heard about it on the BBC was seriously considered as captured the moment perfectly when he sang it outside BBC headquarters on the final Sunday of the campaign. In the end however my choice was the song that had everyone rocking at the National Collective and had Stereo and other venues GAGA every time it was sung. My winner of the tartantights song
Is Bad Romance by Lady Alba also known as the magical Zara Gladman

My venue of the year is yet again a bar but this time it’s not in Edinburgh’s Royal Mile but in Glasgow city centre. This is a bar which until last year I would have struggled to find but now thanks to those National Collective sessions I view maybe not as my second home but the home of a favourite relative. The winner of the venue of the year is Stereo.

For my next award I move on to the discovery of the year and this was a much tougher category this year than it was in 2013 when two outstanding talents stood at opposite ends of the age scale fought out a duel which was eventually won by that poetic tour de force that is Craig Scott. Attending so many events in the past 12 months that I ran out of fingers to count them meant I saw I lot new upcoming stars in a year in which was packed with brilliant performances. Amongst those considered were from music Declan Welch, Zara Gladman, Dol Eoin MacKinnon, and from poetry the excellent Shaun Moore, and recent Glasgow slam winner Kevin McLean. A tough list from which from to make my choice but finally after at least three changes of mind I have to give it to the shy lad from the Western Isles who can sing in both English and Gaelic. My discovery of the year is Dol Eoin MacKinnon.

Every year the spoken word scene not only produces brilliant new stars to enjoy there are also comebacks from those who have taken a break for a wee while and decided to re-engage with their muse. This year winner is someone I respect not only as a poet but also as a man and a friend. His comeback though brief was still the best of the year and those in authority better be worried as his new material has lost none of sharpness and indicates that the man is back on form. This is someone of whom I hope to see a lot of more of in 2015 and I’m sure there will be much more to come from our comeback of the year winner the brilliant JJ Turner.

My award for best sporting moment in a summer which was full of them as the Commonwealth Games came to Glasgow when in the rising out of her sick bed Lynsey Sharp defied both the odds and laws of nature by running the race of her life to win a silver medal in the women’s 800 metres. This to me sums up what sport is all about and when dedication meets determination it always results in success so this is a very well deserved success for someone who totally deserves it

As for my team of the year there is really only one choice to make. For representing their country with passion, commitment, and dignity and being great ambassadors for their sports, medal winners or not this award is for every single member of my team of the year The Scotland Commonwealth Games Team 2014.

Moving on from sport it’s time for one of my favourite awards. The I think I Must Be Mad Award is given to only to the bravest of the brave in my virtual village. These are the friends who are there for me during the hours of darkness when most sane people are in bed. So this award is for someone who has been there to support me above and beyond the call of duty. This year’s winner is at times far too sensible and despite my repeated requests is unlikely to change now. A friend who can be relied on when I really need her to be there the winner of the I think I must be award for 2014 is Audrey Marshall

Having given an award on the value of friendship and shown that true friends are the ones who stay the course. I now move on to my lifetime achievement award. As I look back on the last year I see there is really only one winner for this award this year and our winner is a man of outstanding calibre who joined his party whilst a student at St Andrew’s University in 1973. A man who has served twice as party leader first from 1990- 2000 and again from 2005 to September 2014. This is a man who made history not only by leading the first SNP government in Scotland’s history but by leading a minority government which survived it’s full term which the unionist parties and their friends in the press said could not be done.

Our winner then went on to lead a majority SNP government by winning a landslide victory in election of 2011. This again was something which our unionist parties and their friends said would be impossible to achieve. After all they had written the devolution rule book to make sure it couldn’t be done or so they thought. It seems to me that the unionists had forgotten one basic rule of democracy it’s votes that decide elections not party hacks and their pals.

Having secured a mandate for the independence referendum he had always promised the people of Scotland, he and his deputy leader who is now his boss Nicola Sturgeon reached an agreement with the coalition government that a referendum be held in 2014 to decide Scotland’s constitutional future.

In the end that referendum was lost and Scotland at least in the short term remains part of the United Kingdom but throughout a distinguished career in politics this is a man who unlike so many in the political village has conducted himself with diligence and dignity in his duties and Scotland must never forget the debt it owes our former First Minister, the former leader, of my party and our country. The winner of the tartantights lifetime achievement award for 2014 is Alex Salmond.

Now it’s time for the main awards of the event my man and woman of year and as always I’ll start with my man of the year. Well it’s only right we girls should have the last word on such an occasion. For now though I’ll focus on the men and name the outstanding man of 2014.

To say this was a tough choice would I think would be an understatement. Succeeding such figures as outgoing man of the year Chris Stephens and my first tartantights man of the year Jim Monaghan is no easy task but there were no shortage of suitable candidates. Amongst those whose names were in the frame were my writing mentor and friend Derek Read, Glasgow Poet Laureate Jim Carruth, Former Chairperson of the Federation of Writers Scotland Marc Sherland, The chair of Faith And Unbelief Jim Ewing
the excellent poet and playwright Matt Panesh, and the brilliantly talented and ever reliable Chris Young. In the end however, after much thought and careful consideration I made my selection and my choice is a man who not only a man who campaigned for independence but who kept yes supporters entertained throughout the duration of the campaign with some of the best political songs I have ever heard. My tartantights man of the Year is Alan ‘Citizen’ Smart.

As I have always said and always will it is only right and proper that the women should have the honour of final award of the year. Therefore the final tartantights award of 2014 is for my woman of the year and though succeeding last year’s winner Katie Walker and my first tartantights Woman of the year Althea Maxwell was not an easy choice, believe me when I say there was a number of very suitable candidates from which to select my winner.

Amongst those considered were Audrey Marshall, Caron Lindsay, Jenny Lindsay, Jenni Pascoe. Natalie McGarry Samantha Hands, and Sophia Blackwell. However after much careful thought and consideration I decided that our winner would be someone who not only has pride in herself and her community but someone who on a wet day in a car park at this year Pride Glasgow escorted me to a trans tent an idea she come up with to provide an inclusive for the trans community when her company bosses at Tesco Bank asked for suggestions at how they could contribute to the festivities.
On my arrival at Pride was escorted to the tent and I was VIP guest of honour and was made to feel like Cinderella for the day. So you treating me like a princess and making me feel like I’ve never felt before my tartan tights woman of the year is the one and only Lisa Tait.

So there you have it, all the winners of the tartantights awards for 2014 and I thank each and every one for making my year more interesting, thought provoking, entertaining, and enjoyable than it would have been without them. How they decide to celebrate is entirely up to them but I raise my glass to all of them and indeed all of those nominated. Having looked back over the past year I now look forward to this one with all the choices and challenges it will bring me. At this stage I can only wait and wonder they’ll be. There is one thing I will say though I’m sure the coming year will be an interesting journey for us all.

Love And Best Wishes
Gayle X


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