We need your help now

Support from readers like you keeps The Journal open.

You are visiting us because we have something you value. Independent, unbiased news that tells the truth. Advertising revenue goes some way to support our mission, but this year it has not been enough.

If you've seen value in our reporting, please contribute what you can, so we can continue to produce accurate and meaningful journalism. For everyone who needs it.


Controversial Kate Forbes leads poll ahead of vote for next leader of Scotland's ruling party

Three contenders are running to succeed Nicola Sturgeon as Scottish First Minister.

ONE-THIRD OF Scots think Finance Secretary Kate Forbes is the best candidate to be Scotland’s next first minister with a new poll indicating she may be extending her lead over her rivals.

Pollsters at Panelbase asked Scottish people which of the three contenders running to succeed Nicola Sturgeon would be the best first minister, with 33% backing Forbes, up by 10 points from a previous poll.

Meanwhile, some 18% backed Scottish Health Secretary Humza Yousaf as the best candidate for first minister, with this up by three points.

Support for former community safety minister Ash Regan was also up by this amount to 10%, according to the poll, carried out for the pro-independence Scot Goes Pop blog.

When the 36% of people who did not express an opinion were excluded, the poll showed 53% backed Forbes, ahead of 30% for Yousaf and 17% for Regan.

Panelbase also found Forbes was the most popular of the three candidates among those who voted for independence in 2014 and those who voted for the SNP in both the 2019 Westminster election and the 2021 Scottish Parliament ballot.

Forbes, a member of the Free Church of Scotland, lost some of her high profile supporters earlier in the leadership contest after she said she would not have voted for same-sex marriage.

Equal marriage was made legal in Scotland in 2014 with an overwhelming majority of 105 votes to 18. Forbes was not elected until 2016.

The candidate said that having children outside of marriage “would be wrong according to my faith” and is something she would personally “seek to avoid”, though she added that it was a choice for people to make in a free society.

Despite the fall out she said she was committed to continuing with her campaign.  

The new poll questioned 1,013 people across Scotland, with the research taking place between 7 and 10 March.

James Kelly, of Scot Goes Pop, said almost all of the interviews had been carried out after Tuesday, the day of the first TV debate on the leadership contest, where Forbes challenged the record of her rival candidate Yousaf.

Those clashes saw some within the SNP criticise Forbes for her aggressive approach, saying she was damaging the party’s record in government.

Kelly said: “At least as far as the general public is concerned, it appears Forbes’ robust approach in debating Humza Yousaf has paid very handsome dividends.”

The research was released at the same time as a separate poll revealed voters think Forbes would perform best when dealing with key areas such as the NHS, the economy, education, crime, transport and the environment.

The Survation poll, for public affairs consultancy Charlotte Street Partners and polling company The Diffley Partnership, found, though, that in all these areas between 41% and 50% of people did not know which of the three candidates would do the best job.

With 1,037 people questioned between 8 and 10 March, the poll found support for Scottish independence was at 45% – the same level achieved in the 2014 referendum – with 53% backing staying in the UK.

This result did not change significantly regardless of who the next Scottish first minister will be.

Speaking about the research, Malcolm Robertson, founding partner at Charlotte Street Partners, said: “Kate Forbes clearly has greater appeal among the public at large on key issues such as health, education and the economy.

“What is fascinating in this election is whether SNP members vote for their next leader and Scotland’s first minister with that wider, long-term perspective or decide on the basis of other reasons.”

Mark Diffley, founder and director at The Diffley Partnership, said: “Our poll shows that voters currently have a more favourable perception of Kate Forbes on the key economic and public policy issues than of her two opponents in the current SNP leadership race.

“Significantly, it is particularly Conservative and Labour voters who give Kate Forbes higher favourability ratings.

“This may suggest that, although none of the candidates look able to shift the dial on party support or independence support immediately, it is the Finance Secretary who may be able to appeal to opposition party supporters in the longer term.”

Press Association
Your Voice
Readers Comments
This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
Leave a Comment
    Submit a report
    Please help us understand how this comment violates our community guidelines.
    Thank you for the feedback
    Your feedback has been sent to our team for review.

    Leave a commentcancel