HUMZA Yousaf launched veiled attacks on his rival Kate Forbes in the latest SNP hustings telling party members if they did not elect a leader who shared the values of a majority of Scots winning independence would be harder.

The Health Secretary made the comments during the second leadership hustings this evening which was hosted by the SNP Trade Union Group's and The National newspaper and as voting in the contest opens on Monday.

"Who has the vision? Who truly believes in the values you have? Who truly reflects the majority values if the Scottish people.

"Because if you pick somebody who's a leader who does not have those values, winning independence for us, it's going to be really really difficult," he told the audience of SNP members.

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At the second hustings today, which was chaired by Roz Foyer, the STUC general secretary, Mr Yousaf, Ms Forbes and the third candidate Ash Regan were asked about a wide range of issues including workers's rights, the cost of living and their independence plans.

During the two hour debate, Mr Yousaf distanced himself from First Minister Nicola Sturgeon's economic plan for independence, set out in the Sustainable Growth Commission, published in 2018, and which finance secretary Ms Forbes helped to draw up.

Arguing that the independence movement had to inspire people, he said he would not follow the Commission's report.

The commission suggested that an independent Scotland would start out with an annual budget deficit of just under 6%, having adjusted for things like reduced defence spending and debt-servicing costs.

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This deficit rate would then be whittled down over subsequent years via budgeting.

The model set out in the report reckoned this would really start to make a difference in about year four post-independence, and that the deficit will be under control - so under 3% of GDP per year - by year ten.

Another key proposal of the commission is that Scotland would retain the pound for a lengthy transition period after independence.

The country would then only look to move to its own currency once six stringent tests have been met - including stable public finances, a sound central bank, certainty for businesses and residents and stable foreign exchange rates.

Critics on the left of the SNP have claimed the recommendations made in the report would lead to a period of austerity for Scotland - an argument Ms Sturgeon has denied.

Mr Forbes has positioned herself as the candidate best placed to win over support from pro-Union voters.

READ MORE: 'Kate Forbes shows Christians are expected to hide their beliefs'

However, Mr Yousaf has argued during a bitter campaign that under Ms Forbes the Yes movement could lose support because of her views on social issues.

"We've got to inspire people. We've got to give them a reason to vote for independence, vision that they can believe in. My goodness, people need hope," said Mr Yousaf.

"And that's I think your first and foremost job is to pick a leader that you believe can connect with people that shares the values of the majority of our country that will bring people towards them.

"First of all, [not to] lose us any support. But secondly, we'll grow that support. And I believe that the issues are raised by the SNP TUG group and exactly the type of issues that resonate with people on the doorstep.

"We believe as a trade union group and equality for the LGBTQ doesn't matter if you're a minority, whoever you are, the trade union group has equality for all at its very heart," he said.

"We don't need to be following the sustainable economic commission."

His comments could be seen as a new attempt to undermine Ms Forbes whose bid for the top job has been hindered by her admission at the start of the contest that she would have voted against same sex marriage had she been a MSP in 2014.

Ms Forbes, who is a member of the socially conservative Free Church of Scotland, said in a separate interview she did not believe in having children outside wedlock.

Her views provoked considerable criticisms from within her party with some MSPs withdrawing support for her bid.

Ms Forbes praised a report by the STUC which examined ways of raising more public money which she said was "excellent".

"I think the STUC report is excellent," she said backing the first measure to do more to prevent tax avoidance.

Ms Forbes also agreed with the STUC report to consider introducing wealth taxes suggesting the Scottish Government could  do "a lot more to do with capital gains taxes".

The candidates were also asked about how the Scottish Government had last year leased rights for offshore wind power.

Ms Sturgeon hailed the move at the as "a truly historic" opportunity which raised more than £700m.

But critics latter claimed the Scottish Government had sold off the rights too cheaply and other countries had raised considerable more money through similar moves.

Ms Regan said she "very unhappy" at how the Scotwind negotiations were carried out.

"I was very, very unhappy with the way the Scotwind [auction] was negotiated," she said.

"I wonder if it's possible to look again at that and see if there's anything that we can do to improve that situation."

Tomorrow sees the candidates take part in the weekend's third hustings with the event taking place in Aberdeen.