Kate Elizabeth Forbes is a Scottish politician and accountant who is serving as the Cabinet Secretary for Finance and the Economy since 2020. A member of the Scottish National Party (SNP), she has been the Member of the Scottish Parliament (MSP) for the Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch constituency since 2016. On 20 February 2023, Forbes declared her candidacy for Leader of the SNP and First Minister of Scotland.
Born in Dingwall, Scotland, in 1990, Forbes was raised in India and Scotland and was educated at a Scottish Gaelic school, where she became fluent in the language. She earned a BA in history from Selwyn College, Cambridge, and then an MSc in diaspora and migration history from the University of Edinburgh. After completing her degree, Forbes worked for a short time in the Scottish Parliament as a researcher for SNP MSP Dave Thompson. She then went on to work for Oxfam Scotland[dubious – discuss] before studying to become a chartered accountant and working for Barclays. Forbes was elected to the Scottish Parliament in the 2016 election and quickly emerged as a "rising star" within the SNP. As part of a reshuffle of Nicola Sturgeon's second government, she appointed Forbes as the Minister for Public Finance and Digital Economy, serving as the deputy to the Finance Secretary Derek Mackay. After Mackay resigned, Forbes was appointed Finance Secretary by Sturgeon. Her tenure has been dominated by the COVID-19 pandemic in Scotland, and its economic impact, and the ongoing cost of living crisis in the UK. Forbes has been on maternity leave since July 2022, with Deputy First Minister John Swinney acting in her capacity.
Following the announcement of Sturgeon's intention to resign as Leader of the SNP and First Minister of Scotland, Forbes announced her candidacy for leader in the 2023 SNP Leadership election. Her leadership bid drew significant attention due to her membership in the Free Church of Scotland, an evangelical Calvinist denomination with socially conservative positions, and her private views on sexual ethics, which includes moral opposition to sex before marriage, same-sex marriage, and most abortions, and stating that Isla Bryson is a "biological male who identifies as a woman". Forbes responded to the controversy by stating that "in a free society you can do what you want" and that she would not push for her private moral positions to be legislated into law during her premiership.