'Just like mum' - Kate Forbes compared to SNP legend Winnie Ewing

Senior MSP Fergus Ewing backs Forbes to become Scotland's next first minister.

Fergus Ewing says SNP first minister candidate Kate Forbes reminds him of mother Winnie Ewing STV NewsGetty Images

Senior SNP MSP Fergus Ewing has backed the leadership bid of Kate Forbes, comparing her to his mother.

Ewing was a perennial minister in SNP administrations and was most recently the rural affairs secretary, but he has become a regular critic of the Scottish Government in the past year over the dualling of the A9, gender reforms and the deposit return scheme.

Announcing his support for the finance secretary, he compared her to legendary SNP politician Winnie Ewing – his mother.

Mrs Ewing invigorated the party by winning the Hamilton by-election in 1967, before serving as an MEP and an MSP, as well as president of the party – becoming an iconic figure among the nationalists.

Ewing said: “Over three decades in Scottish politics, I have rarely, if ever, come across a person who has the qualities Kate possesses, which so well equip her for the top job in Scotland.

“Honesty, bravery, integrity, endless hard work, total commitment to eradication of poverty in Scotland, whilst at the same time working to promote and grow the economy in order to fund our valued public services.

“These are all qualities that people in Scotland will appreciate and come to value. Already her talents and qualities have shone through. I predict that will continue during the campaign.

“In working with her as fellow Highland MSPs for the last seven years, I have seen at first-hand how she first won the respect, then the trust and also the affection of her constituents, and the wider public.”

Fergus Ewing is backing Kate Forbes in the SNP leadership race.STV News

Forbes’ leadership campaign was initially marred by criticism over her views on social issues, after she said she would not have voted in favour of same-sex marriage legislation had she been an MSP at the time.

Ewing, the Inverness and Nairn MSP, praised the finance secretary’s handling of the criticism, which he described as “unpleasant and unwarranted”, claiming her response shows she can cope with the “rough, tough and sometimes nasty world that politics has become”.

He added: “Kate reminds me of my mother Winnie Ewing, when she, as a young mother, first won the Hamilton by-election in 1967. Her slogan then was: ‘Stop the world, Scotland wants to get on.’

“Huge progress has been made since then by the party and the wider independence movement.

“However, there is further to go. Gentle, well-evidenced, rational arguments and patient persuasion is required.

“That means further establishing pubic trust and private confidence. I have no doubts whatsoever that Kate has the qualities that are required to do just that.”

Health secretary Humza Yousaf has so far won the support of the majority of the party’s MSPs, with a small handful backing Forbes, but none saying they intend to back former community safety minister Ash Regan.

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