SNP leadership contender Kate Forbes has set out her plan to unite the independence movement by reaching out to fellow Yes parties and organisations.

Writing exclusively in The National, the Finance Secretary – who had a challenging start to her leadership bid after saying she would have voted against equal marriage – said independence would be “front and centre” of her campaign.

Forbes’s op-ed comes after she said she was “heartsore” for causing “hurt” with her comment on same-sex marriage and suggesting having children outside of marriage would be “wrong”.

Despite calls to drop out of the race from senior figures within her party, Forbes has vowed to keep fighting and is looking to reset her campaign.

In her column, she says the SNP needs to “build bridges” across the independence movement and singles out pro-indy think tank Common Weal as an organisation which hasn’t “been getting the hearing they deserve”.

“I believe that we need to show – right now – Scotland’s potential as an independent small country in Europe,” Forbes writes.

“At the same time, we need to re-engage the Yes movement, which is full of talent and ideas, in uniting behind the common cause of independence. As a party, we are the largest entity in the movement, but we must build bridges, to those of different parties and none, and create the space to meaningfully engage on the path to independence.”

Forbes goes on: “I also want to take a much wider approach to genuinely listening to informed voices when it comes to policymaking.

“There are numerous think tanks such as Common Weal who have been working away to produce policy papers and suggestions that have not been getting the hearing that they deserve. We need to broaden the range of voices, and although it would be impossible to agree with every suggestion from every source, all well-considered suggestions should be carefully considered.

The National: Amanda Burgauer, executive director of Common WealAmanda Burgauer, executive director of Common Weal

“As leader of the SNP, I stand ready to work with all of my party colleagues, to work with the wider Yes movement to build the credible case for independence, and with Scots of all views to lead Scotland into better days.”

This year, Common Weal released research detailing how Scotland could lose billions in the Government’s ScotWind project – warning that the future of energy resources may be privatised “before they’ve even been built”.

The think tank has produced a renewables nationalisation model for the Scottish Government, which they say could be implemented using existing Green and SNP policies.

As well as policy proposals on energy, Common Weal has also put together plans for fairer housing, childcare and land reform over the years.

READ MORE: The story of Common Weal's fight for a Scottish public energy company

The think tank’s head of policy and research Craig Dalzell welcomed the call for co-operation from Forbes, telling The National: "As a non-partisan, non-party think-and-do tank we shall continue to campaign for a Common Weal vision of Scotland that puts all of us first regardless of who is in government at any time.

“Our policies are public domain and open to all. Better policies and better policy-making benefits all of us in Scotland. If we can play a role in fostering a positive attitude towards policy development and in encouraging those policies to gain the support they need to be delivered then we stand ready and willing to do just that."

You can read the full op-ed from Kate Forbes here.