By Zoe Keown
THE SNP has been slammed for forgetting what it stands for after leader Alex Salmond backed out of plans to put Scottish independence to a vote.
Speaking of the party, Salmond’s former deputy Jim Sillars said: “They are extremely competent in handling their briefs but they’ve forgotten that they are supposed to be leading a national movement for independence.”
With the party already slumping behind Labour in the polls, it is also thought the leader’s neglect to highlight the party’s self-rule aims will put the party’s re-election prospects at risk.
Sillars added: “Being competent ministers doesn’t automatically translate into support from the public unless you campaign for what you say you stand for.”
The former SNP MPs thoughts are also echoed by the Scottish Conservative leader, Annabel Goldie who said: “The national conversation is now the nationalist con.
“If Alex Salmond wants to fight the Holyrood elections on the powers he doesn’t have rather than focus on the ones he does, he will not be published at the ballot box.”
Despite Salmond’s fears that unionist opponents would vote the referendum down Sillars feels that a campaign for independence is the way forward.
He said: “Independence gives us the ability to do something different and get out of the hole that the union has dug for us.
“But [the independence debate] hasn’t gone anywhere because the SNP has not run an independence campaign for many years.”
A spokesman for Salmond has however defended Salmond’s approach.
He said: “This referendum decision was a tactical one, given the unionist parties ganging up against the right of the people to decide Scotland’s future.
“These parties will suffer for being prepared to vote down a referendum for Scotland while supporting one for Wales and for an AV voting system that no party supports.”
Also advocating the need for a referendum he said: “Only a referendum can deliver more powers for Scotland, and more powers [are] the only alternative to a dismal decade or more of Westminster cuts.
“That will be the compelling narrative and the transcending issue of the election campaign.”