WHEN, in life, opportunity knocks, it rarely does so at a time of one’s own choosing. When my mother Winnie was asked by Hamilton SNP to be their candidate in that well-known by-election, she had three young children and was at the beginning of a successful career as a solicitor.

My father, Stewart, assured her she must stand because it was a great opportunity and one that may never occur again. The postman of opportunity doesn’t knock twice. The rest, as they say, is history.

So opportunity now also knocks for Kate Forbes when Naomi is so very young. Kate has grasped that opportunity, and I believe that her date with destiny, as my mother found, lies ahead, with the now far more achievable prospect of taking our cause of independence to victory.

The National: Winnie Ewing at the Commons

Both Winnie and Kate possess exceptional talents. The ability to persuade and inspire; and the talent to bring people with her. Over the past seven years, I have worked closely with Kate in our neighbouring Highland constituencies and observed her progress, as she has won over the hearts and minds of the people she represents.

First, she gained their respect, for her hard work in covering a constituency which, incidentally, is in a geographical area not far off 10 times the size of Greater London – which, the last time I looked, had 89 MPs! That respect then became trust and now affection.

A newspaper journalist last month in a Dingwall “walkabout” found not a single person who had a bad word to say about Kate. On the contrary, it was praise all round. What other politician in Scotland could find that level of public support?

READ MORE: Winnie Ewing: The woman who helped put the SNP and Scotland on the map

She has a manner that draws people to her side. On TV debates, she reminds me of the late Charles Kennedy, who had that skill in spades.

Her honesty, integrity and decency are personal qualities that shine through. Moreover, from private discussions in the past few days with MSPs in the other parties, I can assure readers of the Sunday National: Kate is the candidate that the UK parties most fear! They know she will govern by reasoned argument and evidence – not by social media or WhatsApp group chitter-chatter, which, as we now see, was how health secretary Hancock, Boris, Dom and co ran Britain during the Covid pandemic!

As the newly appointed Cabinet Secretary for Finance, when thrown into the deepest part of the deep end, in taking over a Budget at the very last minute, she gained cross-party respect. Since then, her approach in dealing fairly and regularly with other parties’ MSPs has also won their admiration.

READ MORE: Historic piece of SNP memorabilia discovered harking back to Winnie Ewing

She has made clear her determination, fomented by her upbringing and experiences in India, to eradicate poverty. Her intelligence and abilities as an accountant mean that she can both reset relationships with business in Scotland, but also build the economic strength we need. We need that strength to fund our vital public services.

To win the next referendum, we also need to foster the belief that we have that economic strength and can build further upon it – but only with independence. The last referendum was essentially lost – narrowly – mainly on economic arguments. Kate is the person who can achieve this.

Already, among people in business in Scotland in all sectors with whom I am in frequent contact, Kate has pretty much universal support.

If the party wants a leader who, like Winnie more than 50 years ago, inspires and persuades a people to have confidence in Scotland as a nation, then they should support Kate Forbes as the candidate with the qualities and talents that are needed to win over the people of Scotland to our cause.