THE attacks in the media and by politicians on Kate Forbes have been abhorrent and do not reflect well on modern, inclusive (sic) Scotland.

I do not care if Rishi Sunak is Hindu, Anas Sarwar is Muslim or Ms Forbes is Free Kirk.

Humza Yousaf is Muslim and his views on gay marriage do not sit well with Islam. That does not matter, for politicians do not allow religious beliefs to impact on sound government.

Tim Farron, the former LibDem Leader, was hounded out, similarly, in 2017. Have we learned nothing?

Indeed, is it really a coincidence that Ms Forbes scares unionists more than the other two, as Adam Tomkins outlines persuasively ("As a unionist, Kate Forbes is the SNP leader we most fear", The Herald, February 22)?
John V Lloyd, Inverkeithing

• I CANNOT agree with Adam Tomkins that Kate Forbes is someone we unionists should be potentially troubled by.

As a “Wee Free” she has already made her unfashionable views on sex and marriage public knowledge. These attitudes alone will be a major barrier to her political career. The simple reason is to be found if we look, for example, at the career of Boris Johnson. In spite of what will be seen by many as low sexual mores and regular questions over his capacity to employ veracity, he became Prime Minister. He even took his latest girlfriend into 10 Downing Street.

I feel that if public opinion is given the choice between a saint and a sinner they will always pick the rogue, lovable or otherwise. The reason being that people in power, like Mr Johnson, are in no position to critically judge the rest of us.

Ms Forbes on the other hand holds what may be seen by some as the moral ground and as such will be considered very soon by members of her party to be an intolerable liability for the SNP if she led it.

I believe that the problem she faces is not actually about the details of her personal faiths and beliefs but the fact that she has any at all.
Bill Brown, Milngavie

• WHY has there been no attack on Ash Regan for resigning over the Gender Reform Act?

Answer: she has no hope of winning the leadership race, unlike Kate Forbes, who is a credible candidate to beat the lacklustre Humza Yousaf, a man who will continue the disastrous policies of Nicola Sturgeon rather than tackle the real issues facing Scotland.
Bill Eadie, Giffnock

Honesty is to be admired

I AM 87, a retired doctor and a Christian, but not a member of the Free Church. I am perplexed by the attacks on Kate Forbes. I have referred women for abortion although personally I would never have considered one.

I have no problem with the Gender Recognition Reform Bill except that I feel 16 is a bit young to make such life-changing decisions, and I am glad for my gay friends that they can get married. Surely a First Minister who is prepared to speak honestly about her beliefs, while respecting democratic decisions, is the kind of honourable person we need in parliament?

What about Humza Yousaf, who should have the same beliefs according to his faith? Is he subject to the same intrusive questioning and is there misogyny involved again in this row?
Dorothy Dennis, Port Ellen, Islay

Intolerance is offensive

THE controversy over Kate Forbes' comments on marriage and family is interesting. I do not agree with them but neither do I condemn them. I take the view that she is entitled to hold them, and they do not mean she is an unfit politician. She has said that she would not seek to impose her views on such matters on others, and that she respects the rights of others to the lifestyle choices which she disagrees with.

I find the intolerance of her critics much more offensive than her views. The outcry reminds me that we now seem to have a new population of the self-righteous who are so arrogant in their commitment to their own opinions in a number of areas that they not merely disagree with those who hold a different view in good faith but seek to punish them for their difference in a variety of ways by their exclusion from the just, who alone have the right to society's respect, with often-damaging consequences.

It is as if the old intolerance of Scottish Presbyterian religion towards the lax and the irreligious is still with us but modernised; the blasphemers are the mirror-image direct opposite of who they once were but the dogmatic and censorious attitudes are the same.

I also wonder (as an atheist) why it is acceptable to condemn a politician for her adherence to the Free Church of Scotland when such condemnation of a politician for being a Catholic or a Muslim or a Jew would be self-evidently unacceptable.
Stephen Smith, Glasgow

• KATE Forbes is coming under increasing attack over her faith-based views. I do not agree with all of them, but are we no longer allowed to have personal and professional opinions in politics? I have had to speak to people who have been charged with sexual offences against children, and people who have had convictions for GBH and attempted murder, for £7.50 an hour.

These are far, far worse issues than the media are in a frenzy over regarding Ms Forbes. I manage this by just doing my job. Personally, after 5pm, I consider their crimes to be abhorrent. I’m sure the majority of us operate with a light touch of cognitive dissonance as we go through the day.

Surely Ms Forbes should also be free to vote on issues as she sees fit, lest what’s the point of Holyrood? Is it just an inane façade where our MSPs nod obediently because Twitter told them to? Would her more "traditional" opinions change legislation? No. And in the case of gay marriage, I and the majority of Scots wouldn't want it to change and this would be reflected by the other elected members.

Is tolerance only for those with the "right" opinion in the first place?
David Bone, Girvan

Focus on the important issues

AS a Scot and a subscriber to The Herald who lives south of the Border I am somewhat dismayed that the questions being asked of the three leadership contenders who have so far declared their position are to do with their views and how they voted, if they did so, on the issues of the Gender Recognition Reform Bill and same-sex marriage. The former is probably dead in the water and unlikely to be given Royal Assent while the latter received Royal Assent in March 2014.

Surely there are more important issues to be considered at the moment – the cost of living crisis, the educational attainment gap, drug issues and, of course, the state of the NHS in Scotland.

I can but hope that when the list of contenders is complete they will be questioned about how they will approach the more important issues that are affecting the daily lives of the majority of the Scottish people.
Mary Marshall, Ilkley, Yorkshire

Sturgeon has a fine legacy

VICTOR Clements (Letters, February 22) is very much mistaken on Nicola Sturgeon’s legacy. Our First Minister won widespread praise for her calm, effective leadership throughout the Covid pandemic and is globally recognised as a leader in tackling climate change.

Just this week, England’s chief medical officer Sir Chris Whitty told MPs that “we learn a lot, because Scotland has actually blazed a trail in many areas of public health that we have learnt from” and this was echoed in a Nuffield Trust article on adult social care which highlighted the work being done in Scotland in tackling low pay and staffing issues and urged the UK Tory Government to follow suit.

Nicola Sturgeon’s achievements are too numerous to list, but these include building the magnificent Queensferry Crossing delivered on time and well under budget. She saved Prestwick Airport, nationalised ScotRail, scrapped dentistry charges, introduced the small business bonus, set up the Scottish National Investment Bank and inward investment outstrips the rest of the UK.

We benefit from the best-performing NHS in the UK, the lowest crime rate in 40 years and the introduction of numerous welfare provisions including the Scottish Child Payment to help those less well-off as a result of Westminster austerity. She also extended free personal care and child care.

Despite the economic limitations of devolution, Nicola Sturgeon can be proud of her record in tackling poverty. Fifteen of the 20 most deprived areas in the UK were in Scotland in 2014, now all 20 are in England. Scotland has a lower rate of overall poverty at 18 per cent than England’s 22% and 24 % in Labour-run Wales. That's some legacy.
Fraser Grant, Edinburgh

Read more letters: Kate Forbes needs to stand aside


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