THE appointment of Kate Forbes as Finance Secretary was broadly welcomed yesterday by SNP figures. However, her promotion was not without controversy.

Rob Gibson, a former MSP for the Highlands, and a close party colleague, was delighted with the announcement.

“This is a very good appointment. Kate has more financial nous than any previous Finance Secretary. She worked for Barclays and when she stood to be an MSP they gave her sabbatical and kept her role open for six months should she want to return.

“She is very well clued up on finance and I think she will make an excellent Finance Secretary.”

He added: “She has handled the compartmentalisation of being an MSP with a lot of responsibilities in the Highlands and also being Finance Minister very well. It’s also good for the government to have someone of a young age with experience too.

“She has experience and is bilingual in Gaelic and English. She has shown herself to be both a scholar and a practical financial expert. I think that is good for the county and good for the government.”

Tommy Sheppard, the Edinburgh MP, was also pleased to hear of Forbes’s appointment. He said: “I would say Kate’s appointment as Finance Secretary looks fresh. It’s interesting to have a younger woman in the role. It will bring a new perspective to the role and that is to be welcomed, and it also gives the lie to some people who say the SNP is running out of steam. We have got steam in abundance.”

However, other figures gave a more muted reaction. Forbes was one of 14 SNP politicians who signed a letter urging the Scottish Government not to “rush” into Gender Recognition legislation, arguing it could change the definition of what it would mean to be male and female. Her pro-life views will also be criticised by abortion rights campaigners.

They pointed out Forbes was a protege of the former MSP Dave Thompson, who set up the group Christians for Indy and who was the previous MSP for Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch. One insider said: “She certainly stepped up to the mark on the day of the Budget which she had to deliver at extremely short notice after Derek Mackay resigned. So she is very promising. But I feel she has been promoted on one performance. The proof is in the pudding and we’ll see how things go in the future.”

The source added: “There are some concerns about her views on LGBT progress. She is a practising Christian which in itself is fine, but there is a worry whether she could use her beliefs to eschew progress for LGBT rights. She was one of Dave Thompson’s protege’s. He was pushing her and she replaced him as the MSP when he stepped down."