KATE Forbes has warned her party’s MSPs and MPs they have a duty to unite behind her if she wins the SNP leadership and becomes the first minister.

She said it would be a “profound question of democracy for SNP members if elected representatives didn’t honour the choice that they have made”.

The Finance Secretary has the public support of only a handful of parliamentarians, with most of those declared so far backing the frontrunner Humza Yousaf.

Some of Ms Forbes’s early backers deserted her after she said she was opposed to same sex marriage and having children out of wedlock, in line with her Christian beliefs. 

Some of Mr Yousaf's backers have been scathing about her positions, particularly those from the LGBT+ community.

READ MORE: Forbes savages Yousaf's record in first TV hustings of SNP leadership

In last night’s bruising STV hustings, Mr Yousaf portrayed her as a liability for the independence movement because of her socially conservative views.

“Forget persuading No voters, you can’t even keep Yes voters,” the Health Secretary said.

Asked today what she would say to SNP worried about disunity, she said: “Well, obviously across the SNP membership, it will be one person, one vote, and I have confidence that SNP members can make up their own minds. 

“It is my strong impression that what SNP members want right now is a leader with confidence, a leader with courage, somebody that can stand up to Westminster and the Conservative government, and somebody who's clear about where Scotland can go next. 

“Quite obviously, when it comes to the selection of that leader, this leader will need to be backed by MSPs, because I think it would be a quite a profound question of democracy for SNP members if elected representatives didn’t honour the choice that they have made.”

In last year’s UK Tory leadership contest, most of the party’s MPs blacked Rishi Sunak but the members chose Liz Truss, and she was instantly undermined by MPs opposed to her.

READ MORE: Forbes stands by Yousaf criticism, saying SNP needs leader with 'guts'

Asked if she thought it was incumbent on the SNP’s parliamentarians to get behind her if the members chose her as leader, Ms Forbes said: “Well, that's how the democratic process works. SNP members, we’re ultimately all members of a party. 

“We are accountable in part to our members. So members make a choice. I think it's incumbent on elected representatives to answer to their branches to to respect that choice.”