Nicola Sturgeon takes a swipe at Kate Forbes as SNP risks split

Nicola Sturgeon fuels SNP civil war: Outgoing First Minister swipes that Kate Forbes’ views on gay marriage and trans rights ‘matter’ as party risks split – but ‘Wee Free’ church leaders hit back at ‘bigotry’ shown to leadership hopeful

  • Nicola Sturgeon wades into contest to become her successor as SNP leader
  • Outgoing First Minister insists views of those hoping to replace her ‘matter’ 

Nicola Sturgeon has waded into the contest to become her successor as SNP leader by taking a swipe at under-fire candidate Kate Forbes.

The outgoing First Minister, who stunned her party by announcing her resignation last week, insisted the views of those hoping to replace her ‘matter’.

It comes as Ms Forbes’ leadership bid continues to falter amid outrage at her stance on issues such as gay marriage, pre-marital sex and transgender rights.

The 32-year-old, the Scottish Government’s Finance Secretary, is a devout Christian and a member of the Free Church of Scotland.

She has caused anger among SNP members by admitting she would have voted against gay marriage, stating she believes sex outside of marriage is ‘wrong’, and saying she had ‘significant concerns’ about gender self-identification.

A number of Ms Forbes’ supporters have since turned against her amid the row over her comments.

But the Free Church of Scotland, known as the ‘Wee Frees’, has now hit back at what they claim is ‘bigotry’ shown towards the SNP politician and condemned ‘anti-Christian intolerance’.

Nicola Sturgeon, who stunned the SNP by announcing her resignation last week, insisted the views of those hoping to replace her ‘matter’

Kate Forbes, the Scottish Government’s Finance Secretary, is a devout Christian and a member of the Free Church of Scotland

Ms Forbes is competing against Scottish Health Secretary Humza Yousaf and former minister Ash Regan in the battle to replace Ms Sturgeon as SNP leader and first minister.

When she announced her resignation, Ms Sturgeon promised not to get involved in the contest to choose her successor.

But she yesterday risked further fuelling the SNP’s civil war by appearing to criticise Ms Forbes.

‘Scotland is a socially progressive country and I believe that is majority opinion,’ she told reporters, when asked about the Finance Secretary’s views.

‘Whoever is first minister the views that they have on all sorts of issues matter.

‘Because people look to their first minister to see someone who will stand up for them and their rights

‘The job of first minister on a daily basis involves responding to things based your positions your values, your outlooks.

‘I know all of the candidates well and they are all really talented people and they all offer different things to the job and it is for the SNP to make that decision.’

Ms Sturgeon denied her party was tearing itself apart in trying to elect her replacement, adding: ‘No it’s not, it’s having a democratic election.’

Amid the row over Ms Forbes’ views, the Free Church of Scotland issued a statement to defend the ‘highly respected’ politician.

‘She is consistent about what she believes, irrespective of the consequences, a quality which makes for an honest politician,’ a church spokesperson said.

‘The issues raised by Kate Forbes’ intention to run as SNP leader have displayed a level of intolerance that we believe is uncharacteristic of the wider ordinary Scottish population, and indeed does not represent authentic Scottish identity which is historically grounded on hard work, common sense, respect, truthfulness and the family.

‘It is lamentable that Kate’s honest adherence to simple traditional values would, for some, disqualify her from contributing to the public good of Scotland.

‘The Free Church of Scotland is concerned at the level of anti-Christian intolerance which has been displayed on social media, and by some political and media commentators.

‘Kate Forbes is standing on the basis of her policies – the fact that she is being criticised for her Christian convictions shows a level of bigotry that has no place in a pluralistic and diverse society.’

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