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Jane Barlow / PA
Jane Barlow PA
Kate Forbes SNP REUTERS Russell Cheyne.JPG thumb.JPG
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Kate Forbes: Scotland's second most senior politician on answering difficult questions about her Christian faith

by Cara Bentley

Scotland's finance secretary, Kate Forbes, has spoken about how she finds talking about her Christian faith in public.

Kate Forbes grew up in Scotland and then India as her Dad taught the Bible and managed the finances of a group of mission hospitals. After going into finance herself she became the MSP for Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch.

In 2020, she became the Secretary for Finance, and later the Economy, making her the second most senior member of the Scottish Government after First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. 

REUTERS / Russell Cheyne

Speaking on the Premier podcast A Mucky Business to the former leader of the Liberal Democrats, Tim Farron, she explained how practice has helped her talk about her faith more clearly: "The first step is to know what you believe and why. Those of us in the Church, or those of us with Christian friends, often just accept truth without ever querying it and I realised, the more involved I got in the messiness of the world, that you really need to know why you believe what you believe, so that when it comes to staking your claims, you know why. It's a lot easier to defend a position that you inherently believe, than defending a position that you just think Christians should hold."

Forbes recently did an interview with the BBC's Nick Robinson, for which she was widely praised in the Christian community for being honest about her faith. However, she said that it has not always gone so well.

"I feel like I've made lots of mistakes along the way and I've got lots of things wrong. And actually, if the Nick Robinson interview was anything to go by, it was the result of feeling like I hadn't got answers right in previous interviews. So, there is trial and error and sometimes you connect, sometimes you don't."

She added that she first asks herself whether she would be able to explain her beliefs to a stranger: "How you would you sit next to somebody in a train and explain why you believe what you believe? Because if it doesn't resonate with them, then it's not going to make sense on a podcast or in a media interview."

When asked by Farron how she finds being in a party where there are several evangelicals and Roman Catholics as well as 'militant secularists', she replied: "One of the things that's always attracted me about the SNP is genuinely how diverse it is. Now, the public characterisation of the SNP may not present that but I've always seen it from branch members, all the way through to the Westminster group, that there's a diversity because there is a primary objective in terms of Scotland's constitutional future. 

"That means that people of diverse political views and diverse backgrounds and diverse, perhaps, religious views can come together to support that objective. Now, in government, inevitably, you need to settle on particular policy positions and - as you and I both know - compromise is the name of the political game, it's part and parcel, and all of those individuals will be figuring out where their red lines are. But ultimately, that it attracts a diversity of background and of view and that's why I feel like there was a tolerance internally for me, and whatever I present and the same will be true of the Westminster group. With any political party, there's robust debate in private."

On topics such as trans rights and gender, the SNP are not of one mind, as well as there being disagreements between those who want a gradual exit from the rest of the UK and those who are more fundamental and want it to be the party's sole focus. 

You can listen to the full interview with Kate Forbes here.

Fraser Bremner / Scottish Daily Mail / PA Wire

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