After the first week of an election contest that’s seen SNP leadership contender and Kate Forbes MSP interrogated over her Christianity, a snapshot of Scottish voter opinion among SNP supporters puts her ahead.
A poll carried out for communications agency the Big Partnership, involving 1,001 Scots found Ms Forbes is the most popular candidate to succeed Nicola Sturgeon as Scottish first minister, despite the row over her Bible-based beliefs.
The SNP MSP for Glasgow Shettleston, John Mason, told Premier Christian News: “It puts Kate Forbes ahead even after what has been a difficult week for her.”
Scots who voted for Ms Sturgeon's party in the 2021 Holyrood election were questioned on who they think should replace her.
The ‘don’t knows’ amount to almost a third (31%). But 28% said they support current Scottish Finance Secretary Ms Forbes, putting her ahead of rivals Humza Yousaf and Ash Regan, who polled 20% and 7% respectively.
It is the first survey of SNP supporters to be carried out since the leadership contest began.
John MSP added: “Of course it will be SNP members who will choose the new leader. But it is a reminder to us all that the wider public is clearly impressed with Kate Forbes. Perhaps it shows that the political bubble and related media attention at Holyrood (as at Westminster) is in danger of being out of step with public opinion and has been focussing on the wrong things.”
Speaking to Premier Christian News, former Leader of Borders Council and Chief Executive of Logos Scotland Shona Haslam said: “Ms Forbes’ campaign has not wavered from being honest and open and that seems to have been vindicated.”
Ms Haslam added: “Over the past week the hounds of hell have been unleashed upon Kate Forbes and her campaign. She has answered every question, tackled every issue and made herself available to every journalist who wanted to speak to her. Her resilience and fortitude has been incredible.
”The poll findings also indicate that for the Scots public, the cost of living crisis is seen as the most important issue, followed by the economy, the NHS and education.
Only 5% said they thought that the new leader's faith or personal beliefs were important.
“She did have a strategy”, commented Peter Lynas, UK Director of the Evangelical Alliance to Premier.
“To get out in a measured, clear way that answered the question, ‘can a politician tell the truth?’. She knows exactly what she is doing and held her nerve.”
Peter Lynas added: “She is coming out at the end of the first week of the campaign as someone who has kept integrity and she remains in the race.
Even if she loses, she is breaking the mould of politics.”On Thursday, Ms Forbes attempted to reset her campaign, saying she felt "greatly burdened" that some of her comments had caused hurt, and pledging to "defend to the hilt" the rights of all people in Scotland to live without fear or harassment.