HUMZA Yousaf has said that it does “nobody any good” to “talk down a progressive track record” following last night’s fiery debate on STV.

It comes after his rival in the leadership race, Kate Forbes, defended the need to have a “robust” conversation after she took aim at the Health Secretary’s record in government.

The debate led opposition politicians to claim that the SNP was “openly at war with itself”.

Speaking on Politics Live, Yousaf was played a clip from last night’s debate showing Forbes criticising his time in various ministerial positions.

READ MORE: Kate Forbes defends 'robust' tactics during STV SNP leader debate

He said: “It does nobody any good, neither the party nor the movement, nor the country to talk down a progressive track record of the SNP’s that has won us election after election after election.

“Other candidates may not be happy to stand on that record, even though they’ve been in government for that time, I’m very proud to stand on that record.”

Yousaf was then asked about his own record regarding hospital waiting times, specifically with regards to A&E.

He pointed to the impact of Covid and the fact that health systems across the world have “suffered from the effects of the global pandemic”.

Yousaf added that his booster programme was the fastest in the UK and that nurses in Scotland have not taken a single days strike action.

He said he would continue to make sure staff are “paid fairly”.

The conversation then turned to Forbes’s views on same-sex marriage. The Finance Secretary previously said she would have voted against equal marriage were she an MSP when the vote was held.

Asked if she should be “excluded” from the leadership race because of this, Yousaf replied: “No, she shouldn’t be excluded. I think it’s very important thought that whoever the first minister that people from the LGBT community, right across society in Scotland, can look that first minister in the eye and believe that that first minister will not only stand up for their rights but protect them, defend them and advance them.”

He said he was the “only candidate” who had committed to this and that he had “lived his entire life” as a minority.

Host Jo Coburn then asked Yousaf about why he missed the stage three vote on equal marriage – which he said is because he was on government business in Pakistan regarding the case of a Scot facing the death penalty.

Following this, the family of the man released a statement praising Yousaf for his role in helping to secure his release. 

Coburn then asked Yousaf about Alex Salmond who claimed Yousaf skipped the key vote due to “religious pressure”.

The Politics Live host then said “Alba have already said they have no skin in the game” to which Yousaf laughed. 

“His (Salmond) recollection is very different to my recollection put it that way”, he said. He added that Salmond is the leader of a “rival party” that “attacks” the SNP.