Kate Forbes is weighing up her options and deciding whether to put her hat into the ring for a second go at the SNP leadership.

Her first attempt last year was a bruising affair with the weight of the SNP establishment stacked against her.

It's maybe not surprising some of her supporters are now calling for courage.

John Swinney, Nicola Sturgeon's former deputy and the senior MSP many in the party currently want to see replace Humza Yousaf without a contest, was a central figure in the campaign to get Mr Yousaf elected.

After Ms Forbes' campaign ran into deep trouble over her personal religious and moral views, which included her opposition to equal marriage, Mr Swinney sought to intensify the difficulties for his then Cabinet colleague.

READ MORE: Blow to Forbes as former backer now backs Swinney

"If Kate wants to set out those views, with which I profoundly disagree despite being a man of deep faith, then the party membership will make their judgment ... whether they think they are appropriate for someone to hold if you are a leader of the SNP and first minister," he told the BBC.

In the end almost half of the SNP's party membership ignored Mr Swinney's words and decided that while many might not agree with her outlook on matters of faith and morality, they thought she was the better candidate to be party leader and First Minister, with 48% backing her to Mr Yousaf's 52%.

Ms Forbes today told reporters in Holyrood that she is considering standing but will weigh up what's "in the best interests of the party, country and family" before making a decision.

READ MORE: SNP factions: Old guard, Forbes followers and Flynn's people

She said there had been a "groundswell of support amongst the party" for her and that whoever became the next SNP leader would need to have the membership behind them.

As she contemplates whether to stand, she will no doubt be listening to the team who helped her in the last leadership contest.

Michelle Thomson, the SNP MSP for Falkirk East, was Ms Forbes's campaign manager in the 2023 race.

The Herald: Former finance secretary and potential SNP leadership candidate Kate Forbes talking to reporters in Holyrood today. Photo PA.

She told The Herald today that she hoped the Highland MSP would throw her hat into the ring again.

"I hope she does stand. She is a very talented young woman," said Ms Thomson, a former businesswoman.

"I think it is time for change, debate is healthy and democracy is good."

Ms Thomson added: "If she decides not to stand if may well be that someone else comes forward or somebody doesn't. But I am talking about the principle rather than personalities and the principle that we should have a discussion about our future directionship cannot be a bad thing."

READ MORE: Will Kate Forbes run for SNP leader? Why would she want to?

Walking alongside Ms Thomson into the SNP group's weekly lunchtime in Holyrood today was Ivan McKee, another prominent supporter of Ms Forbes.

Like Ms Thomson, Mr McKee, a former business and trade minister, enjoyed a successful career in business before becoming a politician.

The Glasgow Provan MSP, who writes a weekly column in The Herald, is also encouraging Ms Forbes to stand again.

"There is lots of support for Kate in the party," he told The Herald.

"I think she is the best candidate. The party needs to look to the future."

The Herald: SNP MSPs Annabelle and Fergus Ewing.   Photo PA.

He added: "Kate reaches out to voters we have lost and need to win back. And to voters who have never supported us.

"If we're serious about returning to our dominant position in Scottish politics we need to offer that fresh vision and perspective. We need the courage to recognise this is about our future, not the past."

Longserving SNP MSP Fergus Ewing and his sister Annabelle Ewing - two of the three children of the late SNP trailblazer Winnie Ewing - are two other prominent supporters of Ms Forbes.

Ms Forbes stood alongside Mr Ewing when he was suspended for a week from the SNP at Holyrood for voting against the former Scottish Greens minister Lorna Slater, pictured below, in June.

The Herald:

The Inverness and Nairn MSP said Ms Forbes,  whose constituency of Skye, Lochaber and Badennoch, neighbours his own, pointed to a poll of readers of The Herald which put Ms Forbes ahead of Mr Swinney.

Like Ms Thomson and Mr McKee, Mr Ewing believes Ms Forbes has the ability to reach out beyond core SNP voters to win over the backing of other Scots.

"In my view Kate is the people's choice. She is extremely popular among the general public - including with Unionists - and people who are not SNP voters.

"Now the point of politics is to win over people to your side and it seems to me that in itself should sway members including my MSP colleagues to think very carefully about what they are doing.

"John Swinney is seen by many people as the past and Kate Forbes is the future. So many people have told me over the past year - both SNP members and voters generally - that they very much regret that Kate didn't beat Humza.

"The personal attacks on her over her Christian beliefs have been quite repugnant and really quite disgraceful."

Mr Ewing's sister Annabelle Ewing, a deputy presiding officer in Holyrood, and MSP for Cowdenbeath, voted for Ms Forbes last year and has made clear she would do so again.

"Hard day for Humza and his family. Re any contest, it has to be the new generation and Kate Forbes. The SNP must speak up for all in Scotland. From a personal perspective, I and so many want to live to see the day. As my Mum Winnie said: Stop the world: Scotland wants to get on."

And posting a front page of The Herald fom 1999 which carried a large photograph of her mother Winnie Ewing under the headline "Time for a new sang", she wrote: "And meant to add a bit of courage now."

Some MSPs who did vote Ms Forbes last year are currently not saying who they will support in a new contest.

Rural affairs minister Jim Fairlie declined to say whether he would back Ms Forbes if she stood again this time round when pressed by The Herald in Holyrood today.

But while not explicitly backing Ms Forbes some politicians in the SNP's Westminster group are already expressing concern about the establishment's rush to back Mr Swinney.

"Many of those who are rushing to endorse John Swinney (an incredibly popular person within the SNP) for SNP leadership are the same folks that rushed to endorse Humza. How about endorsing someone who has wider appeal and who worries our opponents?" Carol Monaghan, the MP for Glasgow North West, wrote on X, formerly Twitter earlier today.

Joanna Cherry, the Edinburgh South West MP, expressed a similar view.

"John Swinney is hugely respected across our party but the lesson of the last year is that the SNP needs a complete reset. We must go forward not backwards. Kate was right when she said that continuity would not cut it. The next leader must deliver change," she wrote on X yesterday.