KATE Forbes has said she has “a lot of support” in the SNP as she confirmed she was considering another tilt at the party leadership.

The former finance secretary also suggested she was in favour of a full-blown leadership contest, telling Sky News: “Membership needs to be behind the next leader and process needs to reflect that.”

The PA news agency reported she had told journalists she would think about what is best for "the party, the country and my family”.

She said: "It’s still early days. We’ll obviously be considering things over the next few hours and so on – nobody’s declared yet, so I think we do still have a bit of time.”

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Asked if she was tempted to run, she said: “I think for me it’s clear I have a groundswell of support amongst the party.

“That was clear from the last contest and clearly we need to weigh up what is in the best interests of the party, the country and my family.

“It’s what I’ve said quite consistently over the last year that if I were to run, those would be the conditions.”

Speaking to Sky News, Forbes said the party must elect a leader who could “unite the party, that can take the party forward into an election”.

She added: “What’s key now is to think about what the next few months hold and to ensure that the party is able to move forward to fight that election and to ensure we have the trust of the people.”

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But Forbes also spoke highly of her potential challenger – should either decide to run – John Swinney.

Some in the SNP believe the party “machine” is already gearing up to propel him into leadership if he chooses to run.

Forbes described the former deputy first minister as a “much-loved and well-respected” figure in the SNP as well as being an “extremely competent Cabinet member for many years”.

Swinney followed Nicola Sturgeon to the backbenches last year when she stepped down as first minister.

He has also confirmed that he is considering a tilt at leading the party again, having previously served in the top job between 2000 and 2004, before handing the reins to Alex Salmond.

It is the first time since the resignation of Humza Yousaf she has spoken publicly about her intentions in the race to succeed the First Minister.