Kate Forbes: The former leadership contender who could make a second bid

Kate Forbes is due to make a statement later on whether she will run for the SNP leadership for a second time or not.

Ahead of John Swinney becoming the first person to announce he is running, a source close to the Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch MSP said she is “still weighing things up”.

Mr Swinney praised Ms Forbes in his speech declaring his bid for the top job, saying: “She is an intelligent, creative, thoughtful person who has much to contribute to our national life and if elected I will make sure that Kate is able to make that contribution.”

He said he would want the former finance secretary to play a “significant part” in his team.

Kate Forbes in Holyrood
Kate Forbes was elected in 2016 (Jane Barlow/PA)

On a possible leadership bid, Ms Forbes has said: “I think for me it’s clear I have a groundswell of support amongst the party.

“That was clear from the last contest and clearly we need to weigh up what is in the best interests of the party, the country and my family.

“It’s what I’ve said quite consistently over the last year that if I were to run, those would be the conditions.”

She has garnered endorsements from the likes of Joanna Cherry and Fergus Ewing as a replacement following Humza Yousaf announcing he will step down – two high-profile SNP rebels itching for change.

When she first entered Holyrood in 2016 – following a stint working for her predecessor Dave Thompson – Ms Forbes was quickly tipped as one to watch.

A Cambridge-educated accountant, the newly minted MSP found herself in ministerial office by the summer of 2018.

But it was her actions in 2020 that pushed her to the fore.

Then finance secretary Derek Mackay resigned in disgrace after messages he had sent to a 16-year-old boy were published by the Scottish Sun on the eve of the Scottish budget.

With just hours to prepare, Ms Forbes was forced to step in and deliver the budget, drawing plaudits from across the chamber and across Scotland, before she was eventually promoted into the role herself.

Suggestions she would eventually succeed Nicola Sturgeon only grew in the following years and in 2022, Ms Forbes went on maternity leave with her stock higher than ever.

But it was while she was still on leave caring for her daughter Naomi that Ms Sturgeon announced she would unexpectedly step down – firing the starting pistol on a contest Ms Forbes had long been tipped to compete in, and potentially win.

The first week of her campaign was a difficult one as she faced questions about her stance on equal marriage and other issues, her positions on which she bases heavily on her Christian faith.

Kate Forbes and Nicola Sturgeon
As public finance minister, Kate Forbes was foisted into delivering the budget at short notice (Jane Barlow/PA)

Ms Forbes would run Mr Yousaf close in the final voting, taking 48% of the votes in the second round, ultimately falling short.

She would also find herself not serving in cabinet – after reportedly turning down the rural affairs portfolio – and would return to the back benches, where she would become an outspoken critic of some Government policy, most notably plans to reduce human activity in at least 10% of Scottish waters, which were eventually dropped following massive political and public backlash.

As the dust settled around Bute House on Monday after Mr Yousaf announced his days as First Minister were numbered, eyes naturally turned back to Ms Forbes, who had been a key member of a group of rebelliously minded MSPs in the Scottish Parliament who most recently abstained in a vote on the Government’s justice reforms.

– Advertisement –
– Advertisement –