HUMZA Yousaf went on the attack during Thursday night's Channel 4 News hustings, confronting Kate Forbes over Tuesday night’s bitter debate, which sparked claims of an SNP civil war.

He also pushed her on LGBTQ+ issues, and over her position on abortion buffer zones.

He said the Finance Secretary had gone too far on Tuesday in her criticisms. 

“We’re only going to win support for our cause if we work together as a team. But what unfortunately happened in the last TV debate, Kate, is that you essentially gave our opponents so much ammunition to attack us with.”


Ms Forbes told the Health Minister that any future First Minister would "have to deal with a lot worse than we’ve been dealing with through this contest."

“They’re going to have to stand up to the UK Government, they’re going to have to stand up to the opposition and they’re going to be accountable to the people of Scotland who want answers and they want to see competent delivery of results.”

READ MORE: Nicola Sturgeon denies SNP civil war split after Mhairi Black warning

During the debate in Glasgow, the three candidates were asked about their personal beliefs and how they would impact their ability to govern. 

At the start of the campaign, Ms Forbes - a member of the socially conservative Free Church of Scotland - haemorrhaged support when she said she would not have voted for equal marriage had she been in parliament in 2014. 

Mr Yousaf said: “What people need to do, what they expect from their First Minister, is that they can look that person in the eyes and genuinely believe that that person does not believe that they are morally inferior, that they will protect their rights, they will advance their rights.

"And I’m the only candidate that has unequivocally said they will protect everybody.”

He also questioned a comment from Ms Forbes at a previous hustings on abortion buffer zones.

“When Kate was asked this question the other day at a hustings, you said ‘with balance’,” he said.

“What I didn’t understand is what you mean by that balance?”

He added: “I think it’s right to ask what do you mean by that balance, would you allow, for example, prayer vigils?”

READ MORE: What really goes on behind the scenes of SNP hustings?

In her response, Ms Forbes hit out at the Health Secretary, saying: “This is an example where we see another candidate trying to poke holes and trying to erode the honest and solemn commitments I have made.

“It boils down to a question of honesty – does Humza accept my word when I say that I will uphold those legal protections and support buffer zones or not?”

Speaking to journalists after the debate, Ms Forbes said claims from the Health Secretary he would not “sling mud” in the leadership race had “disintegrated.”

After Tuesday’s debate sparked a backlash from MSPs and ministers, with reports suggesting many wouldn’t serve in her cabinet, Ms Forbes said she had “great confidence in SNP members” and that parliamentarians would need to respect the outcome of the ballot.

“Ultimately, every elected representative is accountable to branch members and SNP members just as much as we’re accountable to our constituents. So I think there will be questions raised if an elected representative didn’t honour the choice that SNP members had made.”

Asked about a call by Shona Robison for more "transparency" on her abortion views, Ms Forbes said she had “answered more questions on abortion than anybody else has probably in their lifetime.”

“So I think there’s great transparency on that.”

READ MORE: Kate Forbes most popular candidate in SNP leadership race with public

Mr Yousaf rejected the claim that he was making a personal attack. "I was just making sure that they clarified their policy, I think that's really important to do. What I'll never get involved in mudslinging or personal attacks. I just wouldn't do that."

"We are all part of the same party, we're all going have to be part of a team, whatever the result is on the 27th of March, so we don't trash the SNPs record in government.

"It's a record that has won us huge amounts of support, both as a party and as a movement and it's interesting to see that those candidates that had trashed our record on Tuesday rolled back in doing so."

He said that was likely because of pressure from disgruntled party members. 


Meanwhile, Ms Regan also questioned Mr Yousaf’s tone in the TV debate, saying he’d been a bit personal.

“He’s called that out on other occasions and now he’s kind of reverting to doing itself. But I think it’s difficult. People are in this to win it.

“Everyone wants to come across the best and they want to kind of point out flaws in the approaches of the other candidates. 

“And so I suppose it’s to be expected. It’s probably still not as brutal as a Tory leadership contest.”