Publish date: 2023-03-19 06:59:12
The Finance Secretary said she was “certainly confident that whoever is elected will be the person who SNP members have chosen.”
GET THE LATEST HERALD SUBSCRIPTION OFFER: Subscriptions from HeraldScotland
Earlier this week, her campaign team had called for an independent auditor to oversee the vote.
Michelle Thomson, her campaign manager, said there were “concerns” about the “integrity of the ballot process.”
However, in a round of interviews on Sunday morning, the minister said she now had “no concerns about the process.”
Because Ms Forbes doesn’t give interviews on a Sunday, the exchanges with Sky News and the BBC were pre-recorded, with the former taking place before the resignation of Peter Murrell as the SNP’s Chief Executive
The party boss – married to First Minister Nicola Sturgeon – was under pressure after it emerged that the SNP had misled journalists about falling membership numbers.
Last month, they trashed a newspaper report that the party had suffered a loss of 30,000 members.
This week, the party admitted its membership was more than 30,000 below its previously published figure.
On Friday, Murray Foote, the party’s former head of communications quit, saying he had been given the duff information by SNP HQ.
READ MORE: Who is Peter Murrell, the former SNP chief executive?
Speaking to Sky News’s Sophy Ridge, Ms Forbes said “I have full confidence in the integrity of the election contest. All three candidates, in fact, were asking for SNP membership figures, because it stands to reason that in any election the candidates should know the size of the electorate, the size of the group of people that they are trying to persuade.
“And I’m very relieved that those figures have now been confirmed.”
She said the falling numbers showed that the party needed to “shift focus and deliver change.”
Asked if she thought Mr Murrell being in post was a conflict of interest, she said: “No, I don’t because I think that we have obviously the third party electronic provider of voting, and also because I have full confidence in the process.
“Ultimately, this will be determined by SNP members and I think there would be outrage from the SNP members if there was any perception of a lack of integrity.
“So I think steps have been taken in order to ensure the integrity of the process. And I’m certainly confident that whoever is elected will be the person who SNP members have chosen.”
Speaking to the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg about Mr Murrell’s resignation, Ms Forbes said that decisions in the SNP “have been taken by too few people.”
“SNP members want to know that our institution is democratic, that they can influence it, that they can shape policy. I think there’s been a feeling that they are disempowered from that process.”
READ MORE: Scottish MP who helped topple Boris Johnson open to Holyrood career
Ms Forbes repeated that she had “full confidence and trust in the process.”
She added: “The point I made around an independent auditor was to try and give as much trust and confidence to those that were voting.
“It’s very standard common practice when it comes to election contests for there to be that third party independent auditing, and I would hope that we can get to the end of this contest knowing that the decisions that SNP members are taking when they vote is the decision that they truly want.”
The party’s president Michael Russell, who has temporarily stepped into the SNP’s chief executive’s post, admitted to the BBC Scotland’s Sunday Show that the party was in a ”tremendous mess.”
“This has not been an edifying process. There hasn’t been a contested leadership in the SNP for 19 years. And it shows. We’ve been out of practice in doing this and what has happened has not been good for the party and it’s not been good for Scotland.”
“I think the party is basically a good party, a party that is focused on the good of Scotland. But things have gone wrong and spectacularly wrong in recent weeks. And we need to sort that out and be open about that,” he added.
The former minister said he did not know about the falling membership numbers, or why so many people had quit the party.
Asked why the party had attempted to mislead the public, he said: “I have no idea why that took place. I have no idea at all. I have the greatest respect for Murray Foote. I worked very closely with him. I’ve known Peter for a long time. I’m not going to speculate about what happened then. But we do need an answer to that.”
Scottish Labour’s deputy leader Jackie Baillie said the SNP had “run out of road.”
She added: “Kate Forbes has thrown light on the SNP’s atrocious record in government and questioned the cabal that has been running the SNP for years.
“Mike Russell trying to blame social media for the repeated failings of his party machine during this leadership election is simply laughable.
“The truth is that this election is in chaos – with allegations and resignations appearing on a daily basis.
“There is no way the president of the SNP did not know about the exodus of members from the party.
“Mr Russell should ‘grasp the thistle’ by facing up to the chaos in his party.
“If this is how the SNP run their own party, just imagine the chaos in government – Scotland deserves better.”
Publish date: 2023-03-19 06:59:12