The Scottish Mail on Sunday
Rising star, 29, ‘to be youngest ever finance secretary’
THE junior minister forced to deliver last week’s Budget for her shamed boss Derek Mackay is set to become Scotland’s youngest ever finance secretary.
Kate Forbes, MSP for Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch, was parachuted in following the revelations Mr Mackay had bombarded a 16year-old boy with 270 messages.
She was praised for her ‘assured and confident’ performance – after learning only the night before that she would have to set out the Scottish Government’s financial plans.
Yesterday, Miss Forbes began leading cross-party Budget negotiations and called for opposition parties to work ‘constructively’ with the nationalists.
SNP sources believe that if the 29year-old – who has been at Holyrood for less than four years – passes the Budget successfully, it would be ‘impossible’ not to promote her. She would become the youngest person in Scottish history to take on the role – one of the most senior positions in government.
Last night, a party insider said: ‘After the Budget, everyone was saying that she had done really well.
‘We never see her in the bar, she works so hard. I’m sure there will be other people wanting that job because it’s one of the most senior jobs. [Deputy First Minister] John Swinney did it for many years.
‘Kate has really impressed people – she’s also a nice person, she’s not a schemer and she’s conscientious.
‘If she gets the Budget through, it will be impossible not to give her the job.’
The insider added: ‘She’s very qualified – she’s a chartered accountant, she’s Oxbridge, and she’s got all the experience [necessary] after deputising for Derek. There’s no one better to do it.’
Miss Forbes, a history graduate from Cambridge University, was appointed Public Finance and Digital Connectivity Minister in 2018.
On Thursday, she had only a matter of hours to pull together her Budget speech after Mr Mackay was forced to resign as finance secretary.
Afterwards, SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford tweeted: ‘Incredibly proud of my Highlands and Islands colleague.
‘When the time came to step up, she did it in the assured and confident way that I knew she would. Well done, Kate.’
Miss Forbes is well-liked at Holyrood and has been described as a ‘pleasant’ person to both her own party and opposition members alike.
The fluent Gaelic speaker from Dingwall, Ross-shire, is known for her campaigning for a ban on plastic straws and immigration issues.
Yesterday, she urged opposition parties to work with the Government to pass the Budget.
Miss Forbes said: ‘Wellbeing and fairness are at the heart of this year’s Budget. An important part of that is protecting incomes, tackling inequalities and providing high-quality public services.
‘Our tax policies are the fairest and most progressive in the UK, with more than half of taxpayers paying less income tax in Scotland than if they lived elsewhere in the UK.
‘We are also supporting first-time buyers with our residential land and building transaction tax (LBTT) policies, meaning almost half of residential property transactions pay no LBTT at all.
‘We are prioritising actions that have the greatest impact on improving lives across Scotland now and creating the conditions that are required to ensure wellbeing for future generations.
‘I hope that parliament recognises the importance of protecting family budgets in uncertain times and will work constructively with us to pass this Budget in the national interest.’
‘It may be impossible not to promote her’