Political pundit who gave Theresa May first inkling of election nightmare is knighted

Record-breaking cyclist Mark Beaumont and Game of Thrones actor James Cosmo are among the high-profile Scots included in the New Year Honours list – which also sees elections expert Professor John Curtice knighted.

The 64-year-old politics professor from the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow is well known to the public from his media and television work on polls and elections.

His exit poll in June’s snap election revealed Theresa May was set to lose her Commons majority, despite the Tories having had a massive lead in the polls over Labour when the contest started – prompting some to suggest the psephologist was the real winner in the ballot.


The Cornishman, who is constantly in demand by TV news channels as a political soothsayer, admitted his gong was one prediction he hadn’t thought of.

Sir John, who studied at Oxford, said: “Just six months ago the exit poll I led surprised everyone with a shock prediction that went on to be uncannily accurate. Now it is my turn to be surprised – and humbled – by the gracious decision to grant me a knighthood.

“It is not something I ever expected to happen. But it appears my attempts to analyse public opinion and outline its implications for the country’s political life are appreciated, and for that I am duly grateful.”

Sir John also doubles up as senior research fellow at the leading social attittudes polling grou, the NatCen Social Research and said he was very ‘grateful.’

Cyclist Beaumont, who made headlines when he first broke the record for cycling round the world in 2008, is also recognised with a British Empire Medal.

The 34-year-old father of two, from Murthly, Perthshire, receives the award after undertaking a second record-breaking bike trip around the world this year, completing the massive journey in a time of 78 days, 14 hours and 40 minutes – a journey he first dream of completing when he was just 12.


Meanwhile, Cosmo is honoured with an MBE for services to drama, having starred in films including Braveheart, Trainspotting and Highlander.

More recently he has appeared in the hit show Game Of Thrones and was one of the housemates in Celebrity Big Brother in 2017.


First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the list “illustrates the achievements of many exceptional people from across Scotland who have shown outstanding service and dedication.

“From those who work in the field of education and business, medicine and mental health, to those who promote our country on the world’s sporting stage and on screen, the Honours are a fitting way of celebrating their work.

“I also want to extend my congratulations to emergency service personnel who have been awarded The Queen’s Fire, Police or Ambulance Service Medals. Our emergency services deserve our continued gratitude for helping to keep people and communities across Scotland safe, every day of the year.”

Scottish Secretary David Mundell said: “I am pleased to see the New Year Honours 2018 recognise some of Scotland’s most deserving volunteers, community leaders and public figures.

“From the achievements of prominent sporting greats such as Mark Beaumont to the inspirational local heroes of our communities whose tireless dedication, commitment and compassion benefit so many across the length and breadth of Scotland, it is right that we mark their dedication and commitment.

“I congratulate each and every recipient on their award – they truly deserve their recognition today.”