Kate Forbes has pitched herself to SNP members as a “first minister for a new decade” as Nicola Sturgeon's Finance Secretary insisted she was the candidate for change.

The Highlands MSP is currently running against Health Secretary Humza Yousaf and former community safety minister Ash Regan in the race for SNP leadership and the keys to Bute House.

Continuity, Ms Forbes told the BBC’s Sunday Show, “won’t cut it”, in what could be seen as a veiled swipe at Mr Yousaf who has been described as offering more of the same – although the Health Secretary has rejected the label and said he would be his “own man”.

Read more: Ash Regan: Election 'gold standard' for Scottish independence

Ms Forbes added: “Keep doing the same things, you’re going to get the same results, and that’s why I think we need a fundamental shift."

Ms Forbes said she would seek to invest in small businesses, giving them “breathing space” to help grow the economy, but added competency in government could lead to increased support for Scottish independence.

“To do that, they need a leader with the competence and the experience of delivery,” she added.

Asked if she believed Ms Sturgeon and Alex Salmond were both viewed as competent, she said: “Absolutely, but we need a new leader for a new decade and that new leader needs to have a particular focus and experience and desire to eradicate poverty through economic prosperity.

Read more: Humza Yousaf pledges independence workshops and 'rebuttal service'

“We’re at a moment in time and I think I’m the leader who has that competence and that track record of delivery.”

When asked if her rival Mr Yousaf could have done a better job in managing the NHS, Ms Forbes refused to engage with the question, instead saying Scotland must “get serious about delivery”.

But Scottish Tory chairman Craig Hoy said Ms Forbes is “portraying herself as the outsider” but has been a senior minister in the Scottish Government since 2020, adding: “Kate Forbes can’t be the new broom, when her fingerprints are all over the SNP government’s failures.”

Scottish Labour deputy Jackie Baillie said the comments of the candidates on Sunday showed all three were “woeful options”, describing Ms Regan as “utterly obsessed with independence” and saying Ms Forbes was attempting to “distance herself from the SNP’s record of failure”.

Read more: SNP politicians drop Kate Forbes support after gay rights opposition

Ms Forbes also used her television appearance to blame the media for any continued focus on her views on social issues as she refused to get drawn further on her opposition to equal marriage.

She said that the continuing question she is receiving is "mostly because journalists want to keep going back to those problems”.

Ms Forbes added: "I’ve answered those questions comprehensively and I would appeal to people to recognise that in the last few years I have served all of Scotland’s people faithfully and that would be my commitment to going forward.”

Ms Forbes caused anger inside and outside the SNP after stating she would have voted against equal marriage and said having children outside of marriage was "wrong" in her opinion.

Asked how the LBGTQ+ community in Scotland could trust her to stand up for their rights, Ms Forbes said: “Underpinning my whole approach to politics is a belief in the inherent dignity of every human being.

“I recognise that you want to take the conversation back to the issues that I have comprehensively addressed.

"We are now into a debate and that debate is looking at a whole host of different issues that people care about."