A SENIOR SNP MP has described Kate Forbes as a sex-obsessed religious fundamentalist.
However, John Nicolson said he was still yet to make up his mind on who to vote for in the party’s leadership contest.
During an appearance on the BBC’s Politics Live, the MP for Ochil and South Perthshire also criticised Nicola Sturgeon, saying the outgoing First Minister “concentrated power in a very, very small circle of people.”
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Asked about the SNP’s difficulties, Mr Nicolson admitted the party was in a “complete mess.”
He said: “It's not good, is it? It is a complete mess. There's many things one can say about Nicola Sturgeon that are good. She's been a phenomenal First Minister, but succession planning, I don't think has been one of her great strengths.
“And we now find ourselves in a bit of a mess. We've had quite a torrid election campaign, it's been really quite unpleasant. I think the SNP isn't used to that. We haven't had one for 20 years.”
“I think a fair criticism that could be made of Nicola Sturgeon was that she concentrated power in a very, very small circle of people,” he added. “And I don't think that was always the healthiest way to run the party.
“It meant that she sometimes missed out on advice, I think, from people who could have probably helped her.
“And obviously, we're in a position which is far from ideal.
Asked who he was backing in the race to replace Ms Sturgeon, Mr Nicolson said he was still “listening carefully to the arguments.”
He was asked about Ms Forbes’ views on gay rights. At the start of the contest the Finance Secretary - who is a member of the socially conservative Free Church of Scotland - she said she would not have voted for same-sex marriage had she been an MSP in 2014.
Mr Nicolson, who is gay, said he was “perfectly happy for Kate Forbes to believe whatever she likes.”
He added: “I understand the church that she comes from. My father's family is from the Outer Hebrides, where this church is very strong. If Kate Forbes doesn't want to be in a same-sex relationship, then Kate Forbes should not go into a same-sex relationship
“She shouldn't tell me what relationship I can or cannot enter into.”
Asked if he could stay in the party if Kate Forbes became leader, he replied: “Yes, I think so. Because if she wins she'll be the First Minister. It's a democracy.”
He added: “The thing I don't get about these religious fundamentalists is why are they so obsessed with sex. The Bible tells us that we can't wear mixed fabrics or eat shellfish as well. They don't worry about that. It’s sex that seems to fixate them”
Mr Nicolson described the SNP as “a family of people.”
“What family doesn't have big fallings out?” he asked. “I cannot imagine a circumstance in which I would leave. The SNP would have to change fundamentally.”
The politician was also part of a panel discussing Boris Johnson’s admission that he misled parliament about Partygate rule breaches at No 10.
Mr Nicolson spoke about the “post-truth politics that both Johnson and Trump stand for.”
He explained: “If you just spew enough lies, the idea is that people, the general public will stop believing any of us in public life. That's got to be bad for politics and government.
“And it makes it almost impossible to get out information to the public at crucial important times. Because there's a real danger, the public will stop believing anything they hear.”
Ms Forbes appeared taken aback when asked about the comment in the final leadership hustings tonight.
Struggling to reply when asked what she would say to Mr Nicolson, she said: "That is quite a remarkable accusation to make, and I don't know that I have much to say in response to that kind of a accusation.
"I have said unequivocally that I'm here to serve all of Scotland.
"I have served all of Scotland, my track record speaks for itself in terms of serving all of Scotland."