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EWAN GURR: Kate Forbes gets my vote – as mother or first minister

Finance Secretary Kate Forbes.
Finance Secretary Kate Forbes.

The problem with former political leaders is they orbit public life like an odour, patiently awaiting their chance to resurface with their precious pearls of wisdom.

Such was the case with John Major.

This is the man who presided over cash-for-questions and crass levels of sleaze during the nineties.

Yet he was exhumed last Thursday for a speech on acceptable standards in public and political life.

I mean seriously?

Is it any wonder trust in political leaders is so low?

In this combative and quarrelsome world, Kate Forbes is like a tonic.

The 31-year-old Scottish Government Cabinet Secretary for Finance and the Economy,  announced her pregnancy last week, declaring she was pleased to be the first serving Cabinet Secretary to take maternity leave in Scotland.

Forbes said she hoped it sent a clear and strong message that holding a senior leadership role in the public eye should not be a barrier to starting a family.

Kate Forbes and husband Ali Maclennan have announced they are expecting their first child together

In a separate interview, she spoke of her “new-found respect and admiration for the countless parents who somehow manage family life as well as a job” and stated her intention to use maternity leave “to find out how on earth to be a mother.”

A first minister in the making?

I’ve spoken in the past about my respect for women who boldly leave politics in favour of raising children, as Gail Ross, Jenny Marra and Aileen Campbell and others have done.

Society underestimates the contribution made by mothers, from birth to breastfeeding and the raising of children.

In a recent article for the New Statesman, Chris Deerin was also complimentary towards Forbes, describing her as “unusually open and honest for one in public life”.

The article paints her as a left-leaning centrist who is socially conservative.

She is concerned about fiscal prudence in her management of a £41 billion annual budget but insists she is committed to “the needs of the most vulnerable”.

She also remains a member of a branch of the church with strong views on family, life and marriage.

Deerin speculates that Forbes could be first minister in a few years.

Cautious as I am of the SNP, I would be delighted for her if she chose her family over politics but I would be equally pleased with Kate Forbes as First Minister.

I think her left-leaning centrism and cultural conservatism might hit the sweet spot for a majority of Scots, who are alienated by others’ virtue-signalling approach to politics and a conversation increasingly dominated by binary debates on gender reform and climate change.


EWAN GURR: Is it time for Scotland’s unionist parties to cut and run from Westminster?