KATE Forbes has backed anti-transgender comedian Graham Linehan following a row over a Fringe show cancellation. 

The writer and comic was scheduled to be featured in a Comedy Unleashed show at Leith Arches as a "famous cancelled comedian". 

However, when the organisers announced that this would be Linehan, bosses at Leith Arches said they were no longer willing to host the event and wouldn't let the comedian "violate" their space. 

Linehan has been criticised for claiming that the "gender identity movement" is "paedophilic" and previously said that "almost every central trans figure is a nonce".

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However, Forbes said it was “remarkable” that he had had “such a difficult time”.

Speaking as she appeared at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe with comedian Matt Forde, the MSP said: “I think that people pick a target and go after that target and they’re not content until they are destroyed.

“But I think it is a really, really scary time to be a comedian because your shows, your art relies in part on causing offence. And some of it I find quite offensive.”

The National: Comedian Matt Forde will be appearing at The Alban Arena in St Albans [Picture supplied by The Alban Arena]

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She told Forde (above) she had come on stage with him “with an element of trepidation”, saying of his jokes: “They are hilarious, but not when you’re the butt of them.”

Forbes said while comics can cause offence, she added: “Offence needs to be caused and he is a comedian and he’s not inciting violence as far as I can see.

"He is a comedian making jokes with the currency of offence and that needs to be protected.”

Forbes was also asked about the “partial rehabilitation” of Alex Salmond (below) after the former first minister was cleared of a series of sexual assault charges. 

She said she had seen the former first minister on the television a “number of times” as he seeks to “offer views and opinions on a whole host of different things”.

She added: “I think right now it speaks to a deeper problem, which is perhaps within the independence movement – a desire to look for natural leaders that will unite the independence movement.

The National: Kate Forbes said the partial rehabilitation of Alex Salmond showed the independence movement was looking for natural leadersKate Forbes said the partial rehabilitation of Alex Salmond showed the independence movement was looking for natural leaders (Image: Jane Barlow)

“I think if you look at some of the marches and so on, and he’s been a primary speaker, I think there is a desire to look for a leader amongst the independence movement, and I think that should be Humza Yousaf.

“It should be Humza Yousaf and I know Humza is working hard to do that, to unite the movement. But that’s what’s needed.”

Asked if Keir Starmer’s party could “win big” in Scotland at the next General Election, the SNP MSP said: “I think nothing is guaranteed at the moment.

“I think between now and then all boils down to whether people believe what Labour are promising them, and secondly whether people are excited by what the Scottish Government, the SNP, are doing.

“It boils down to, I think, the challenges and struggles people are contending with just now, cost of living and the impact on the bottom line and what that means for families.”

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First Minister Humza Yousaf will set out his policy agenda for the coming year when Holyrood returns after its summer recess, with the Programme for Government detailing the legislation his administration will bring forward.

Forbes said this gave Yousaf a “great opportunity” to set out his plans.

She said: “I know he has got lots of ideas. If those can break through, excite voters to turn out and vote, then I don’t think there is any guarantees Labour are going to win big.

“I think the greatest danger is that SNP voters are not excited enough about getting out to vote because of all the distractions. Excite them and they will get out to vote.”