​Kate Forbes and SNP go separate ways - John McLellan

​I have no idea if SNP MSPs have been “working with” the Scottish Conservatives in Holyrood, as Holyrood leader Douglas Ross claimed this week, but it depends on how the phrase is interpreted.

​Members of all parties regularly work together, particularly in committees, so collaboration is not impossible without what some might regard as treason.

Ex-finance secretary Kate Forbes was quick to deny she was a suspect, but then she doesn’t need to have any kind of relationship for her views to chime with Conservatives.

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In an interview with The Herald this week she eviscerated the SNP’s education policies, once ex-First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s top priority, particularly a “voguish attitude” in which closing the attainment gap involved “dismantling the exams system”.

But it was her wider points that would resonate. “Our education system should be about hard work and based on aspiration and ambition,” she said, sounding like someone who should have been on the main stage in Manchester this week. “It’s the only route out of poverty that works.”

And she went further. “We have to move away from celebrating university graduation as a mark of the success of the education system. Post-Covid, the model of going to school and if you’re ‘successful’ going to university is over.”

For Labour or SNP supporters, all this is heresy, but it should not be a matter of left or right, but right or wrong, and from someone in the party of government her honesty is refreshing. But her distance from the SNP hierarchy is becoming a chasm.