THE leader of Inverclyde Council is in the running to be crowned the best councillor in Scotland.

Labour's Stephen McCabe has been shortlisted for the top honour at the Scottish Politician of the Year Awards 2018.

Mr McCabe has been a councillor for 23 years in total and has led the council since 2007, barring a six-month break in 2011 to spend more time with his family.

But the Inverclyde East elected representative believes his nomination is more likely to be for his work with council umbrella group Cosla as their children and young people spokesperson, a role he took on last summer.

In June this year, Cosla played a key part in forcing the Scottish Government to shelve its controversial, flagship Education Bill and instead introduce changes through an agreement with local authorities.

Councillor McCabe said: "It's nice to be recognised for what you do in any walk of life.

"I don't know what exactly I've been nominated for but I think it's principally my role with Cosla and negotiating with the government about reforms in education, and part of that was not to put in legislation.

"It's a good role and it's interesting because it gets you involved in discussing national policies and there's a lot of demand in terms of regular trips to Edinburgh to meet government ministers.

"It's fairly demanding but I'm enjoying it and it helps you understand better how government works."

The dad-of-four grew up in Port Glasgow where he attended St Michael's Primary and St Stephen's High.

He now lives in Kilmacolm.

Mr McCabe was first elected as a district councillor and served from 1992-96 but chose not to stand at the next election for the newly-created Inverclyde Council.

He returned as a candidate in '99 and has been an elected member ever since.

Councillor McCabe is thought to be the second longest-serving council leader in Scotland, just behind his counterpart in East Ayrshire.

During his time at the helm, the local authority received a glowing report from national watchdogs Audit Scotland earlier this year for its financial performance despite increasing budget pressures, almost £30m in City Deal funding has been secured for projects including the expansion of Greenock Ocean Terminal, and he has overseen the £270 million transformation of the schools estate, which is nearing completion.

Mr McCabe is up against the president of Cosla and the leaders of Edinburgh and Dundee city councils for the local politician award.

He said: "It's a strong shortlist and there's no guarantee I will win it but it's nice to be shortlisted.

"It's very pleasing in terms of getting some sort of recognition."

The winners will be announced at an event in Edinburgh on November 22.