Reasonable concerns exist about Kate Forbes in government, says Greens co-leader

The Scottish Greens say some people will have “reasonable concerns” about the appointment of Kate Forbes to a senior position in John Swinney’s government.

Green co-leader Lorna Slater said a change of direction from Mr Swinney’s government would lead to “disagreements” with her party.

As the SNP can only count on 63 of the Scottish Parliament’s 128 voting MSPs, the First Minister will likely need to seek support from elsewhere in the chamber to pass major legislation.

When Humza Yousaf ended the powersharing deal between the SNP and Scottish Greens, Ms Slater and co-leader Patrick Harvie left the government and became opposition politicians again.

Ms Forbes’s views on certain social issues like equal marriage are at odds with those of the Greens.

Lorna Slater
Lorna Slater warned the First Minister against a change in direction (Jane Barlow/PA)

Speaking to the PA news agency, Ms Slater said: “I wish all the Cabinet Secretaries the best and congratulations on their new posts.

“It is now up to the First Minister to set out what the direction of this government is going to be.

“Is he going to continue on a progressive path, working for what we had in the Bute House Agreement – rent controls, more action on climate and nature and of course, that watertight ban on conversion therapy.

“Or is he going to take the government in a different direction?”

On the appointment of Ms Forbes, she said: “I think that some people definitely have concerns, reasonable concerns about having Kate Forbes in a senior leadership position in the government.

“Of course, she as well as John Swinney stood for election on a manifesto that included gender recognition reform and the ban on conversion therapy.”

Ms Slater said the Greens had worked with Ms Forbes and Mr Swinney as ministers in the past.

She urged the First Minister to continue with the Greens’ priorities, saying “we will have to have some disagreements if they’re going to change direction”.

On the party’s budget demands, she said they would focus on money for active transport and tackling climate change as well as pushing for progressive taxation.

Ms Slater said she is “very concerned” the Natural Environment Bill, along with other legislation the Greens worked on as ministers, may be dropped or watered down.

Kate Forbes and John Swinney speaking to journalists
Kate Forbes and John Swinney speaking to journalists (Jane Barlow/PA)

In a press conference outside Bute House on Wednesday, Mr Swinney was asked how he can regain the trust of the Scottish Greens.

He said his party would “pursue an agenda assuring we stimulate opportunity in our society, eradicate child poverty and we’ll do that by growing the economy”.

He said: “We will seek common ground with all political parties.

“The onus is on everybody about how to engage in constructive discussion about how the Scottish Parliament can work together to address the priorities of the people of Scotland.”

Ms Forbes told journalists she was “absolutely delighted” to be Deputy First Minister and said the role was an “enormous privilege”.

However, she was asked if she had a message for the LGBT community after her previous leadership bid saw her face criticism for her views on social issues – after saying she would not have voted to legalise same-sex marriage.

She said she would support Mr Swinney in “finding places of consensus”.

The First Minister then jumped in to state: “I will be the First Minister for everyone in Scotland. Everyone.

“Whether those individuals are in the LGBT community or not.

“My government will aspire to be the government for everybody in this country.”