Shropshire Star

Kate Forbes ‘very confident’ in SNP leadership process

The result is due to be announced on March 27.

Kate Forbes

SNP leadership candidate Kate Forbes has said she has confidence in the process to find a new leader and does not wish the contest to be rerun.

Ms Forbes said the events of the last few days have confirmed that change is needed in the party and that she now wants to get to the end of the process of finding a new leader.

She was speaking following the resignation of Peter Murrell, who quit with immediate effect on Saturday following a row over the party’s membership numbers.

His departure came shortly after that of media chief Murray Foote, who said there had been a “serious impediment” to his role.

Peter Murrell
Peter Murrell resigned as SNP chief executive on Saturday (Andy Buchanan/PA)

The campaigns of Ms Forbes, Scotland’s Finance Secretary, and fellow leadership candidate Ash Regan have previously questioned the independence of the election process and last week called for an independent auditor to oversee the poll, citing a need for transparency.

However, Ms Forbes said on Monday that she has confidence in the process to find a new leader.

Asked how confident she is in the party’s ability to run the process through to the end, she told BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland programme: “Very confident. I think that we’re at a place now where we need to get to the end over the next week.

“I obviously strongly believe that the events over the last few days – which have of course hurt, and I think bemused, a lot of SNP members, not least myself – have confirmed my calls from the very beginning of the contest, which is that we need change in the SNP, we need change in government, and that change needs to be based on some very fundamental principles of honesty, competence, transparency.”

She added: “I’ve said from the very outset that continuity won’t cut it, that the status quo wasn’t good enough and that we couldn’t just continue to go on as we were going on if we wanted different results.

“And that’s not just about policy, it’s also about the delivery of those policies and the culture that accompanies it.”

Fergus Mutch, a former head of communications for the SNP, has reportedly suggested it would be a good idea to restart the leadership ballot for transparency and legitimacy.

Asked whether she would like the leadership contest to be rerun, Ms Forbes said: “Personally, no. I personally would like us to get to the end, which is next week.”

Scotland’s Health Secretary Humza Yousaf is the other candidate in the race, with the result due to be announced on Monday March 27.

During the interview, Ms Forbes was asked what she makes of the drop in SNP membership.

The party announced on Thursday that membership has fallen to 72,186 as of February 15 this year, compared with 103,884 in 2021.

She said: “I think that absolutely demonstrates that this needs to be a change election.

“Two sides of the same coin… we need to run our party and our government in a way that inspires trust – so, restoring trust and transparency in the way that we carry out our internal business, which determines as it were whether members stay or go, and restoring the confidence of people in Scotland are two sides of the same coin and the fact that there has been such a massive drop says to me that we need to change the way that we do things.”

Mike Russell
Mike Russell has stepped in as interim chief executive (Jane Barlow/PA)

She said that the SNP needs to be a truly democratic institution where members are able to shape policy and decisions are not just made by a few people at the very top.

She added that some of the policy issues lately have been quite divisive, including the route to a second independence referendum and most recently some of the issues around gender.

Mike Russell, the interim chief executive of the SNP, told the programme he has been brought in to “steady the ship” and will focus on doing that for the next week.

Mr Russell, the SNP president, has stepped in temporarily to replace Mr Murrell, and on Sunday said there is “a tremendous mess” in the party.

Asked what has gone wrong, Mr Russell told the BBC: “A whole host of things quite clearly, but my focus as I said yesterday and I’m saying again today, is to ensure we get to next Monday to the declaration of the (leadership) result in a much better form and do it in an orderly fashion and that’s what I’m going to be doing this week: making sure that we focus on the important things for the people of Scotland actually because we have a duty to the people of Scotland.”

Meanwhile, former SNP leader Alex Salmond told Times Radio: “Things have gone badly wrong in SNP headquarters.”

On the membership drop, he said the “key underlying factor is lack of progress in moving towards independence”, adding the transgender debate “alienated a substantial section of people who cared about women’s rights”.

Sorry, we are not accepting comments on this article.