Regan calls for end to ‘mudslinging’ in SNP leadership race

SNP leadership hopeful Ash Regan has called for an end to “mudslinging” in the contest.

The former community safety minister issued a “call for calm” to Humza Yousaf and Kate Forbes as tensions rose in the race over Ms Forbes’ comments on social issues.

The Finance Secretary has come under scrutiny from party members and the wider public for her views, losing many of her most high-profile supporters after saying she would have voted against same-sex marriage legislation and that having children outside of marriage “would be wrong according to my faith”.

Ms Forbes is a member of the Free Church of Scotland.

Asked about his opponent’s comments Mr Yousaf – a practising Muslim – told Times Radio he would not use his faith as a basis for legislating, adding he believes in a Scotland that “celebrates differences, celebrates diversity, celebrates equality”.

Deputy First Minister John Swinney also waded into the controversy, telling the BBC on Wednesday he “profoundly” disagrees with Ms Forbes despite his own “deep faith”.

Speaking to STV News on Wednesday, Ms Regan said: “I just want to put out a call for calm – I think that’s really important at the moment.

“Kate and Humza are really valued colleagues, they’re a really important part of the SNP.

“So, I think all the mudslinging that’s been going on just now just needs to stop, everyone needs to take a breath.

Kate Forbes
Kate Forbes has been criticised for her comments about same-sex marriage (Andrew Milligan/PA)

“We’ve all got to remember that we’re all going to be working together at the end of this.

“I want us all to come back together as a strong SNP and we’re all going to be working together for the betterment of Scotland.”

The Edinburgh Eastern MSP’s comments mirror those of her supporter and senior SNP MP Joanna Cherry, who urged a senior party official to “call the dogs off” in relation to Ms Forbes.

In the hours before Ms Regan’s call for calm, transport minister Jenny Gilruth announced her support for the Health Secretary while taking a veiled swipe at Ms Forbes.

She said in a video posted to Twitter that Mr Yousaf would be a “first minister who would defend my love for my wife” and “will defend the Scottish Parliament unequivocally” in reference to Ms Forbes and Ms Regan saying they would not fight the UK Government’s blocking of gender reforms.