By: Shubham Ghosh
The finance minister of the devolved Scottish government, who spent some of her formative years in India where her parents worked as Christian missionaries, on Monday (20) threw her hat in the ring to be elected Scotland’s first minister.
Kate Forbes, 32, cut short her maternity leave to join the race to replace Nicola Sturgeon as the leader of the Scottish National Party (SNP) after the 52-year-old leader stepped down last week after eight years of leading the party advocating for Scottish independence from the UK.
Forbes is seen as one of the frontrunners for the top job and will go head-to-head with Pakistani-origin health minister Humza Yousaf and member of the Scottish Parliament (MSP) Ash Regan, among those who have declared their candidacy so far.
“I can’t sit back and watch our nation thwarted on the road to self-determination,” said Forbes in a video posted on Twitter to declare her candidacy.
“We need to choose strong, competent leadership to deliver independence – the leadership that I can offer. I believe we need someone who can unite our party and our movement. I’m a unifier,” said the MSP for Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch in the Scottish Highlands.
Candidates have until Friday (17) to secure 100 nominations from at least 20 local branches to secure their place on the ballot, with the winner to be announced on March 27.
Forbes has long been considered a credible successor to Nicola Sturgeon after she was parachuted in as Secretary for Finance in her Cabinet to deliver the Scottish budget in 2020 after a predecessor resigned in disgrace. As a member of the Free Church of Scotland, which follows a strict interpretation of the Bible, she has spoken openly of her Christian faith.
“We were a fairly ordinary family that found ourselves in India. My dad was involved with Bible teaching and he’s also an accountant, so he was managing the finances of a group of mission hospitals, trying to ensure that people were able to access free healthcare,” Forbes told ‘Premier Christianity Magazine’ in an interview back in October 2021.
She was born in Dingwall in the Scottish Highlands and was first taken to India as an infant and then returned again a few years later to be enrolled in Woodstock School in Mussoorie.
“Aged 10, I left my very safe primary school (in Scotland) and arrived in India to sit in a classroom with 60 other kids. If you got poor test results, you would feel a ruler on the palm of your hand. So, while I had the safety and security of my own family, it felt like everything else had changed,” she recalls in the interview.
Living through an earthquake while in India and navigating a clash of cultures, Forbes feels her Christian faith got stronger.
“There was only one thing that was consistent between Scotland and India – and that was God,” she told the magazine. Returning to Glasgow aged 15, Forbes went on to study history at Cambridge University and then accounting before politics happened as “an accident” when she was selected as a candidate.
“One of the things that have always attracted me about the SNP is how diverse it is, from branch members all the way through to the Westminster group. That means people of diverse political views, backgrounds and religious views can come together,” she said.