Christianity is judged unimportant in Scotland

A Scottish National Party Leadership debate was broadcast this evening in Inverness, the capital of the Scottish Highlands. It was hosted by The Inverness Courier who requested questions by email from its readers so that “all of the issues which are most important to our readers are put to the candidates”.

A week before the debate, on 10th March 2023, as the leader of the Scottish Christian Party, I emailed with the following question, along with my mobile contact number:

My question for The Inverness Courier’s SNP Leadership Debate on 17/3/2023:

As faith has entered this leadership debate, and as the Treaty of Union specifically safeguards Christianity in Scotland, what is the candidate’s opinion and the SNP’s current position on the place and role of Christianity in Scotland?

Dr Donald Boyd, Inverness resident

Leader: Scottish Christian Party ‘Proclaiming Christ’s Lordship’

The question was not selected to be put to the candidates, but neither were any other emailed questions.

The debate

The debate can be reviewed here with Twitter tag #ICdebate.

It is not possible to determine how questions were selected nor to determine the weighting given to each subject discussed but:

  1. there were no questions selected from submitted emails, but only from those who attended the debate in person.
  2. the half-hour Questions and Answers section of the debate had three pre-selected questions from organisations represented in the Highlands and three random questions from members of the audience.

After 17 years of campaigning for the Scottish Christian Party, the substance of my question has not been addressed publicly by the SNP. As Scottish separation from the United Kingdom involves dissolution of the Treaty of Union, the people of Scotland are entitled to know what is the answer to this question.

I still await an answer to it. It has not passed through the screening process of those questions judged important in whatever context it is asked – in this case the readership of The Inverness Courier. Either those submitting questions to political leaders in Scotland, or those conducting polls or hustings, or newspaper columnists and commentators, have judged it sufficiently unimportant that it is not discussed. Yet there is and must be an answer to it – but the people of Scotland are not being told it before they are asked to make a decision on Scottish separation from the United Kingdom.

SNP Membership

The debate began with the breaking news about the resignation of SNP media chief Murray Foote’s resignation over the party’s membership, reversing denials about the fall in membership. It was noted that SNP membership has fallen from 100,000 to 70,000 since last autumn when the Gender Recognition Reform Bill was promoted, according to Ash Regan but 2021 according to Nicola Sturgeon. This Bill and its consequences led eventually to the resignation of First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. Liz Lloyd, Sturgeon’s Chief of Staff and Strategic Adviser over the last eight years, also resigned today.

Which religion will the SNP members support in electing their next leader, who will then be elected by the Scottish Parliament as the First Minister of Scotland? If evangelical Christian Kate Forbes, who began as the front runner, is voted down because of her Christianity, it will be a clear straw in the wind. It is possible, if not probable, that these 30,000 lost members would have voted for Kate Forbes’ leadership. In spite of this, some Polls have shown that Forbes is rising again after her initial drop upon asserting her Christian beliefs. If the SNP membership choose her as their leader, it might encourage Christians in this country and abroad that it is time for Christian politicians to stand for political election. Only politicians can change the laws of this country, and it is time for Christians to stand.

Kate Forbes does not stand for Christian policies across the board, but if she should win the SNP Leadership election it will register on the international scene as well as the national one. The best message will not be that Scottish nationalism is on the rise again, because at present it is falling as well as failing, but the best message will be that Christianity has a relevant, important and significant message and contribution to national affairs.


6 Jun 2018: it is worth reminding my readers that the Scottish Green MSP, Patrick Harvie, wanted to ban people like KateForbes from being an MSP at all, far less bidding for the leadership of the SNP.

22 Mar 2023: following the SNP fiasco about membership numbers, BBC Newsnight commented tonight that “the likely winner is probably former finance minister Kate Forbes”.

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