Forbes wanted to remain finance minister after a narrow defeat

In her first lengthy media interview since losing the contest to succeed Nicola Sturgeon as First Minister, Ms Forbes said the Scottish Greens, the SNP’s government partners, were “quite pleased” that their leadership bid fell through because of their views on maintaining a thriving rural community be economy.

Speaking to the Holyrood Sources podcast, Ms Forbes, the mother of a five-month-old baby, said she knew she said goodbye to a better work-life balance when she decided to put her maternity leave on hold, to promote leadership and a better future for her daughter.

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After her narrow defeat on Monday, she had hoped to resume her role as Treasury Secretary, knowing she “absolutely loved it and could do it well”.

Her comments contradict comments from Shona Robison, the new Deputy First Minister and Mrs Forbes’ successor in the finance post, who said Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch MSPs had told Mr Yousaf that she wanted to spend more time with her family.

In the same interview, Ms Forbes said she plans to use her time away from government to “think heavily about politics”.

The Highland MSP rejected the rural affairs letter offered by First Minister Humza Yousaf this week after he narrowly defeated them in the SNP leadership race.
The offer was viewed by some as an attempt to demote his former rival in leadership.

Speaking for the first time since the appointment of the First Minister’s cabinet, Ms Forbes said: “I said during the competition that we are at a crossroads and I think we are.

“I think there’s real credit in taking some time off from Government to think seriously about politics and heavy lifting, and where Scotland is headed next, what the nature of the Scottish economy looks like and what the case is like looks for independence.
“I will deal intensively with all of this.”

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Speaking to the BBC’s Sunday Show, one of Mr Yousaf’s key supporters said the door was open for Ms Forbes to return to government “when the time is right”.

Neil Gray, who served as First Minister’s campaign manager in the SNP leadership race and is now Business Secretary for Wellbeing, said: “Kate has had a very strong campaign.

“She is very respected, not only within the party but also outside.

“She will continue to be an asset, not only to the SNP but to the pro-independence movement, and the door is open to her to return to Cabinet when the time is right for her.”

One of the main issues that may have prompted the former finance secretary to turn down the job was the Highly Protected Marine Areas (HPMAs), which could result in around 10 per cent of Scotland’s fishing waters being closed and are currently the subject of a government consultation.

During the leadership campaign, Ms Forbes spoke out against such a policy, but she could have been charged with implementing it if she had assumed the rural affairs mandate.

She told the podcast there were “a whole bunch of reasons” why she downvoted the entry, but added, “I think it’s fair to say that after five weeks of a competition where a lot of things were said would look to me for integrity and of course I would try to give my full support to the government while trying to stick to some of the positions I expressed during the campaign on things like the HPMAs.

Ms Forbes drew ire for her views on social issues during the campaign, with some MSPs withdrawing their support after commenting on things like same-sex marriage.

The MSP said it would extend “the hand of friendship” to those it may have clashed with during the campaign, but added it was a “one-way street”.

She also hit out at claims her economic platform is right-wing, saying the claim – made by the now First Minister during the election campaign – was “bizarre”.
She added: “I think it was really a bit of spin and slander to try and advance other candidates’ prospects.

“There’s nothing right about trying to lift families out of poverty, and it’s just a logical, rational position that in order to redistribute wealth you absolutely must be able to create it in the first place.”

When asked if she will be a “loud backbench,” Ms Forbes said, “I’m going to be myself, and I think if we’ve learned anything during the competition, I’ll say what I think and what I mean.” Forbes wanted to remain finance minister after a narrow defeat

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