AMIDST the furore of Kate Forbes and her faith views ("Forbes: I would not have backed gender bill", The Herald February 21), those defenders of her right to hold these views, however regressive, fail to take proper cognisance that she is no ordinary person, she would be no mere backbencher of whom a spectrum of views is part of the democratic process (think John Mason).

This person is running to be the leader of the SNP and head of the Scottish Government. There is a clear distinction. Her views don't get added into the mix – they would guide how she wished to shape the country and having someone in the highest office in the land who does not think my same-sex marriage is valid would be a genuine abomination.

To put it another way, would any self-respecting SNP member or voter be happy with Jacob Rees-Mogg as Prime Minister? I doubt it very much and yet his religious views are not dissimilar to those of Ms Forbes. I have no issue with people holding such views, because I understand their rationale, even if I think it's flawed. But for those people to hold the highest office is a step too far.

I for one do not wish a leader in office who, when I introduce my husband to them, is at the back of their mind thinking "not a real marriage". Many religious views have had their day and the idea that marriage is the sole preserve of the church is one such example.

Hopefully by the time this letter is printed, Kate Forbes will realise the folly of completely alienating so many of the people she would wish to vote for her and quietly stand aside.
Jamie Black, Largs

• HOW comforting and heartening to see that Kate Forbes is honest and open with her views on gay marriage and gender recognition. This is definitely not a normal trait, as all politicians I know either avoid or skirt round the answers to appease everyone.

And how sad to hear that because of her openness a large number of SNP MSPs have decided to no longer back her because of her honesty and integrity and religion persuasion.

This action gives me even less faith in the people who put themselves forward to govern our country.
Neil Stewart, Balfron

Contest should be based on ability

SADLY, and as is so often the case in Scotland, it seems the SNP leadership election may be defined by religion and the respective candidates' beliefs therein.

It is abundantly clear that there are very unpleasant “briefings” being given against Kate Forbes for her Christian beliefs. One can only imagine the howls of woke outrage if Humza Yousaf had been subjected to the nasty inquisitions as to his Muslim religion and beliefs. I also do not recall Ian Blackford, who, like Ms Forbes is a member of the Free Church of Scotland, facing the sort of scrutiny and critical observation than that experienced by Ms Forbes.

This leadership contest should be based entirely on perceived leadership abilities and their respective offers to the Scottish people. On that basis, it would be extraordinary if not comical that Humza Yousaf, undoubtedly one of the most inept and ineffectual cabinet ministers in devolution history, could actually become First Minister and lead our great country.
Richard Allison, Edinburgh

Hiding in the gender debate

“WE need a leader who’s bold, brave and energised,” says Kate Forbes. If she was brave, since she now confirms being against the Gender Recognition Reform Bill, she would have supported Ash Regan’s opposition to it. But despite the widespread speculation about her view while conveniently on maternity leave and therefore not required to vote, despite her moral obligation to her constituents, and despite being publicly challenged three weeks ago, she ducked the issue until now.

She used her lengthy period on leave, at our expense, to keep quiet on a fundamental issue for the Government of which she is still the incumbent Finance Secretary, and from which she would have had to resign had she been open about her opposition. To be brave about one’s personal beliefs usually requires one to stick one’s head above the parapet before being forced to do so when standing for election.

Likewise, it is regrettable that the former MSP and Health Secretary, Jeane Freeman, a key ally of Nicola Sturgeon, has only now confirmed her opposition to the bill, as she might well have changed the blinkered minds at least of those in other parties, and even some more in the SNP, who refused to acknowledge the reasonable concerns covered by the bill’s defeated amendments and deemed “invalid” by Nicola Sturgeon – and which were clearly shown within days to be perfectly valid indeed.
John Birkett, St Andrews

I admire her honesty

I DON’T agree with Kate Forbes' views on gay marriage and gender self-ID, but one can only admire her honesty, and she has said that as a democrat she would legislate on such issues if that were the settled will of the Scottish Parliament. That is far more progressive than the opposition parties which refuse to accept Holyrood decisions on gender recognition reform or holding a referendum on independence. I don’t recall other party leaders being demonised or interrogated by the media on their religious beliefs and this should not be allowed to dominate the SNP leadership contest.

There were several live TV debates on the Tory leadership contest last summer and the BBC and other broadcasters have a duty to provide the same prime-time coverage of the SNP contest in order that non-SNP members, like me, can hear a proper debate on the major issues facing Scotland and the format must allow candidates the time and space to put forward their visions for Scotland and confirm the SNP record in government.

We need to hear the benefits of independence and how our energy-rich nation can emulate our nearest much-wealthier neighbours, particularly as we are stuck in a UK facing years of stagnant growth and where none of the London parties is honest enough to admit Brexit has been a disaster with no plans for a return to freedom of movement or the single market.
Mary Thomas, Edinburgh

Sturgeon leaves no legacy

I WAS very disappointed in the BBC Scotland Disclosure programme The Resignation of Nicola Sturgeon (February 20). There was no investigative journalism, no revelations, no awkward questions, no evidence probed and ultimately no information put into the public domain that was not there before.

It disclosed hee-haw. The only thing that I took from the analysis was that Ms Sturgeon, supposedly the most accomplished politician of the last decade, has left behind virtually no obvious legacy, nor did she really accomplish anything. Perhaps it is this realisation that got her in the end.
Victor Clements, Aberfeldy

FM is not Fergalicious

I ENJOYED reading Keith Swinley's characteristic comparison of Nicola Sturgeon and Sir Alex Ferguson (Letters, February 21). However, I feel Mr Swinley omitted a crucial difference between them. Sir Alex Ferguson's leadership qualities twice successfully delivered the Holy Grail of European club football, the Champions League trophy, to supporters of Manchester United. By comparison, Ms Sturgeon's leadership qualities failed to deliver independence supporters their Holy Grail.

I'm sure a competitor such as Sir Alex would be the first to point out that in results-driven environments it is good results which one is ultimately judged on. In this respect Ms Sturgeon's ability to win is incomparable to Sir Alex.
Laurence Wade, Ayr

The problem with today's politics

BRIAN Wilson ("The SNP’S three stooges have little to offer Scotland", The Herald, February 21) asks "what brings people into politics?". He proceeds to give some clues but omits to give the most obvious answer, which nowadays is "to get a well-paid job probably for life".

Part of the problem with modern politics is that too many of the participants have little life experience before entering an occupation which is all about that very subject. They graduate, enter a career path, often initially as a researcher, work for a political party and sometimes very quickly gain an influential position and maybe even a seat in Holyrood or Westminster without ever really having any life experience.

As Mr Wilson rightly says Winnie Ewing and Margo MacDonald were well respected, the reason for that being that although they wanted independence they also fought on many other issues which affected all in society and they did it using their experiences and political nous to support their arguments.

Politics and governance needs a broad spectrum of people but it is no place for apprentices.
W MacIntyre, East Kilbride

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