Kate Forbes has “complete faith” in the SNP leadership contest
The Treasury Secretary said she was “certainly confident that whoever gets elected will be the person elected by SNP members”.
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Earlier this week her campaign team asked an independent auditor to oversee the vote.
Michelle Thomson, her campaign manager, said there were “concerns” about the “integrity of the election process”.
However, in a round of interviews on Sunday morning, the minister said she now had “no concerns about the procedure”.
As Ms Forbes does not give interviews on Sundays, the exchange was pre-taped with Sky News and the BBC, the former taking place before Peter Murrell stepped down as chief executive of the SNP
The party leader – married to Prime Minister Nicola Sturgeon – was under pressure after it was revealed that the SNP had misled journalists about declining membership.
Last month they dismissed a newspaper report that the party had suffered a loss of 30,000 members.
This week, the party admitted its membership was more than 30,000 down on previously released numbers.
On Friday, Murray Foote, the party’s former communications chief, resigned, saying he received the Duff information from SNP headquarters.
CONTINUE READING: Who is Peter Murrell, the former SNP chief?
Speaking to Sky News’ Sophy Ridge, Ms Forbes said: “I have every confidence in the integrity of the campaign. In fact, all three candidates asked for SNP membership numbers, because it stands to reason that in any election, candidates should know the size of the electorate, the size of the group of people they are trying to persuade.
“And I’m very relieved that those numbers have now been confirmed.”
She said the falling numbers showed the party needed to “shift focus and enact change.”
When asked if she felt Mr Murrell’s tenure posed a conflict of interest, she said: “No, I don’t because I think we obviously have the third-party electronic voting provider and also because I do have full confidence in the process .
“Ultimately, this is determined by the SNP members and I think the SNP members would be outraged if a lack of integrity was perceived.
“So I think steps have been taken to ensure the integrity of the process. And I’m sure the person elected will be the one elected by the SNP members.”
Speaking to the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg about Mr Murrell’s resignation, Ms Forbes said decisions in the SNP were “made by too few people”.
“SNP members want to know that our institution is democratic, that they can influence it, that they can shape politics. I think there’s a sense that they’re being disempowered by this process.”
CONTINUE READING: Scottish MP who helped oust Boris Johnson for Holyrood career
Ms Forbes reiterated that she had “complete faith and confidence in the process”.
She added: “The point I made about having an independent auditor was to try and show as much trust and confidence in those who are voting.
“It’s very common practice when it comes to electoral contests that there is this independent third-party verification, and I hope we can exit this contest knowing that the decisions SNP members make when they vote who are decision they really want.”
The party’s leader, Michael Russell, who has temporarily taken over as chief executive of the SNP, admitted to BBC Scotland’s Sunday Show that the party was in a “huge mess”.
“This was not an edifying process. There has not been a controversial leadership in the SNP for 19 years. And that shows. We got out of practice at that and what happened was not good for the party and it was not good for Scotland.”
“I think the party is basically a good party, a party focused on the good of Scotland. But things have gone awry, and spectacularly wrong, in the past few weeks. And we have to clarify that and deal with it openly,” he added.
The former minister said he didn’t know anything about the falling membership or why so many people had left the party.
When asked why the party tried to mislead the public, he said: “I have no idea why this happened. I have absolutely no idea. I have the utmost respect for Murray Foote. I worked very closely with him. I’ve known Peter for a long time. I won’t speculate about what happened next. But we need an answer.”
Scottish Labor Deputy Leader Jackie Baillie said the SNP was “out of track”.
She added: “Kate Forbes has shed light on the SNP’s atrocious record in government and questioned the cabal that has run the SNP for years.
“Mike Russell trying to blame social media for his party machine’s repeated failures during this leadership election is simply ridiculous.
“The truth is this election is in chaos – with allegations and resignations emerging daily.
“It is impossible that the president of the SNP did not know about the exodus of members from the party.
“Mr Russell should seize the thistle by confronting the chaos in his party.
“If the SNP is running their own party like that, imagine the chaos in government – Scotland deserves better.”
https://www.heraldscotland.com/politics/23396748.kate-forbes-full-confidence-snp-leadership-contest/?ref=rss Kate Forbes has “complete faith” in the SNP leadership contest