THE former deputy leader of the SNP has sparked a backlash after urging independence supporters to “stop marching and start thinking”.

Speaking to Scotland on Sunday, Jim Sillars said the Yes campaign still had much to do before it could be assured of victory.

But his comments earned him a rebuke from All Under One Banner, who urged the former-MP to “stop talking and start marching”.

Neil MacKay, the national coordinator of AUOB told The National: “I think that what Jim Sillars should do is stop talking and start marching.

READ MORE: Jim Sillars tells SNP members to 'stop marching and start thinking'​

“He must realise that regardless of how long we have to go that persistent mass demonstrations on an annual basis grow the support-base for independence and publicly show that the people are in charge, not politicians.

“However this seems lost on silly Sillars who argues for us to build up a level of support for independence that cannot be defeated yet in the same swoop tells people to stop marching.

“It’s also notable that Sillars makes the assumption that the independence movement hasn’t been thinking, as if it’s been a choice between marching or thinking – well I can assure him we have been and will be doing both in equal measure”.

In his interview, Sillars criticised Nicola Sturgeon’s call for indyref2 in 2020, describing it as “sheer madness”.

“We have hardly moved the numbers in favour of independence,” he said.

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He added: “The independence movement, and in particular the MPs at Westminster, should stop shouting for an independence referendum this year and instead be submitting the details of the free trade negotiations to forensic examination.”

Sillars went on: “What the independence movement must do now is stop marching and start thinking. They must realise we have quite a way to go.”

He reiterated the point in a separate column for the Sunday Times, saying that activists needed to “display a commitment to build political power, while perhaps even thanking the prime minister for his letter of rejection, as 2020 is the worst year imaginable for indyref2.”

He added: “The letter will one day be seen as Johnson’s big mistake; a missed opportunity to gravely wound the independence movement.

“What’s needed is a sense of realism in the SNP and the Yes Movement; an understanding that if we are to succeed, it is not rhetoric that is needed but thinking, research, policy formation, education, organisation and street campaigning, all aimed at taking support up to 60%. It is at that level, when almost two-thirds of the nation can be mobilised consistently in a display of power, that a referendum can be prized from Westminster’s grip.”