Kate Forbes backs John Swinney to improve SNP 'integrity' after general election disaster

Kate Forbes has backed John Swinney to improve the SNP's "integrity" among voters following a disastrous general election result.

The Nationalists lost dozens of seats to Scottish Labour at the poll on July 4 to end up with just nine MPs.

Forbes, who was appointed Deputy First Minister by Swinney in May, said the party had to listen to the electorate and not enter a period of "navel gazing".

“They want to see change," she told BBC Radio 4. "This was a change election and that’s what we’re going to do."

It comes after one SNP veteran called for Swinney to resign as party leader to allow a new generation to take charge.

Alex Neil, who served as Scottish Government minister under both Nicola Sturgeon and Alex Salmond, said Swinney should make way for Forbes or Westminster leader Stephen Flynn.

But the Deputy First Minister said she would continue to support the SNP leader's "mission".

She said: "Competence and integrity must be the hallmark of our leadership and it’s certainly the two words that have been on John Swinney’s lips prior to the election, throughout the election and now in the aftermath of the election.”

Forbes also called for “transparent and open” government.

“Those are two flags, as it were, that need to be planted on everything that we do and I believe John Swinney is the leader to do that and I am very pleased to be supporting him in his mission to achieve that," she said.

Joanna Cherry, one of the ousted SNP MPs, yesterday called for Sturgeon to apologise to party members for the manner of the election defeat.

The former member for Edinburgh South West said there had been a “huge strategic failure” on Sturgeon’s part to further the cause of independence and reach unconvinced voters.

But another ex-SNP MP insisted Sturgeon had no need to apologise.

Hannah Bardell said mudslinging from within the party was unhelpful and appealed for Nationalists to "pull together".

The former member for Livingston told LBC: "I don't think you can put it all at any one person's door and I also don't think that's very helpful.

"I genuinely think there's an opportunity for us to come together as a party as John Swinney has tried to do. We recognise there are issues, and differences of opinion and different views, and that will and has always been the case and it is the case in every political party.

"I just don't think that kind of stuff is particularly helpful and I think what our members want to see is us pulling together and looking at the areas of agreement which is most definitely on independence and how we forge forward with that.

"We've had a tough time as a party and I don't think that, sort of the, bloodletting and the mudslinging that it is happening - and it'll be happening in all different quarters - is necessarily the most helpful thing. We have to listen to the electorate, but we also have to communicate with them."

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