Shift to right will ‘destroy’ SNP, warns deputy Westminster leader

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A possible move to the right could “kill” the SNP, one of the party’s leading figures has warned.

Writing in The National newspaper, the SNP’s deputy Westminster leader Mhairi Black warned any “turn to the right” socially or fiscally could “alienate” swathes of voters and members as the party sets to deciding who will be its next leader and First Minister following the resignation of Nicola Sturgeon.

The intervention comes as figures such as Kate Forbes, who has been criticised for her views on same-sex marriage and abortion, are touted for the top job.

But no SNP figures have formally announced a leadership bid as of yet.

Ash Regan, who broke the whip to vote against the Gender Recognition Act, has also been touted as a possible successor to Nicola Sturgeon.

Scottish National Party Conference 2017
Mhairi Black has warned against a shift to the right for the SNP as the party chooses a new leader (Jane Barlow/PA)

“Even practically speaking, any attempt to move the party to the right would destroy the main motivation for many activists out chapping doors and convincing others that Scotland can take a different path to that which the rest of the UK is following.

“Take that reason away and you’ll very quickly find no-one under the age of 35 willing to deliver any of your leaflets.”

On Friday, The Scotsman reported Kate Forbes was seen as an early frontrunner in a Savanta poll commissioned by the newspaper.

Ms Forbes is currently on maternity leave from her role as Finance Secretary.

Around 18% of SNP voters at last year’s Holyrood election in 2021 chose Ms Forbes to succeed Ms Sturgeon as party leader and First Minister.

The Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch MSP is also most popular among members of the public with 14% backing her, according to the poll.

14% of SNP voters and 9% of the Scottish public backed the Edinburgh Central MSP.

Deputy First Minister John Swinney has ruled out a run, but received 11% of SNP voters’ backing and 9% of the public’s.

Just 7% of SNP voters backed Health Secretary Humza Yousaf, who has come under fire for “seriously considering” a leadership bid despite opponents calling for his resignation over his handling of the NHS.

All contenders will have work to do to boost their profiles, however, with 34% of SNP voters stating they do not know who they would favour and almost half of the public also stating they did not know.

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