SNP has ‘lost its ability to listen and deliver’ says Forbes
The Finance Secretary told the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg programme there were a number of areas that “need to be done differently” after 16 years in government.
Ms Forbes who has campaigned for the top job on the slogan, continuity won’t cut it.
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During the interview, recorded on Saturday, Ms Forbes was asked what had gone wrong with the SNP.
She said: “Three things. One, the ability to listen to understand the priorities of the people that we are here to serve.
“Secondly, the ability to deliver. So when we have solid, good policies we need to make them happen.
“I’m speaking to you from one end of A9, Scotland’s backbone. We said we’d dual it, we haven’t done it. We need to be able to deliver.
“And the third thing is the raison d’etre for the SNP, which is, of course, independence.
“And I think that we’ve lost some of the respectful dialogue that we need when it comes to persuading those who are not yet persuaded of the case that we have to make on independence.
“We need to cut the abuse and the vitriol and actually respect the reasons why people might not be persuaded and work hard to persuade them.”
READ MORE: Kate Forbes has ‘full confidence’ in SNP leadership contest
Asked what her colleagues would think about the criticism, Ms Forbes said: “You cannot deliver change unless you have trust.
“To have trust, you need to have candour about the challenges that we face. And right now we are at a crossroads. There’s no question about that.
“We have come through 16 years of successful government. If we are going to see the SNP continue to win elections, continue to take on the opposition, not least the Labour Party at the next election, then we need to get serious about what’s worked and what’s not worked.
“And I think you can build on the solid track record that we have whilst being conscious of what else needs to change.”
She said if members wanted continuity they could back Humza Yousaf.
Ms Forbes also said she would rule out further income tax rises.
“But the point I’d make about the recent hike is of course, that the higher tax is a symptom of the fact that our economy is growing so slowly, and our tax base is not broad enough.
“We need to raise the money for our public services because people rely on that. But I’d far rather we focused on expanding the tax base and growing our economy.”
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At the start of the campaign, Ms Forbes – a member of the socially conservative Free Church of Scotland – came under fire after she said she would not have voted for equal marriage had she been an MSP in 2014. She has also expressed concerns over the gender recognition reform legislation.
Asked what she would say to the gay community about their concerns, the candidate gave an “honest pledge today to govern in a way that delivers for you, that does not in any way undermine your rights. And actually seeks to enhance your opportunities in Scotland to ensure that Scotland is truly that tolerant, and pluralistic nation that we all want to see.”
In an earlier interview with Sky, she was asked to clarify her position on banning conversion therapy.
During a hustings earlier this week, she sparked outrage when she seemed to suggest that it could be a “choice,” something campaigners for a ban believe is not possible.
Ms Forbes said: “I said in that debate, and I’ll say again today that conversion therapy is abhorrent.
“We’ve been through a process where many people have shared their lived experiences. And on a hugely sensitive issue like this, I think it’s important that it’s those lived experiences that inform the approach that we take to the debate.
“Now I understand that there are people who will say that there is no non coercive approach to conversion therapy. I’m not here to argue with that.
“I’m here to build on the experiences that people have shared and ensure that any approach we take to the legislation reflects those lived experiences, but it is a very, very sensitive issue.
“And I do think it’s important that rather than give you sort of quick sort of gotcha answers, on a matter of such importance, that we do reflect on the consultation responses and we ensure the legislation bans such an abhorrent practice.”
The MSP for Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch, also spoke about her faith.
The broadcasts were both pre-recorded as she does not do interviews on a Sunday.
She told the BBC that there had been greater scrutiny of her because of her evangelical Christianity.
When asked if she felt she had been punished for saying what she believes, Ms Forbes replied: “Well, I think there has been quite a stunning level of scrutiny and perhaps backlash from some quarters.
“Of course, I won’t be the only person with faith in high office. We have a Muslim Mayor of London, we have a Hindu in No 10. And I think people of faith, have the right to occupy high office.”
Scottish Tory chairman Craig Hoy claimed Ms Forbes had a “some brass neck”,
He said: “Kate Forbes is at it again – claiming she is the ‘change candidate’ to put right the failings of the SNP Government, despite having been one of the most senior members of it.
“She had some brass neck publicly lamenting the SNP’s failure to dual the A9, as if she was a helpless bystander. As a Highlands MSP, she ought to have been banging the drum for this since 2016; while, as finance secretary for the last three years, she’s been in charge of the purse strings and could have made this happen if it was that important to her.
“Similarly, she talks of the need to keep taxes down, while blithely ignoring the fact that she’s made Scotland the highest taxed part of the UK.
“Her slogan is ‘Continuity won’t cut it’ – and that’s right. The only problem is that Continuity Kate’s fingerprints are all over the SNP’s dismal record in government, just as much as Humza Yousaf’s are.”