FORMER First Minister Alex Salmond has said his successor Nicola Sturgeon has not pursued the case for independence urgently enough.

Salmond, as leader of the new pro-independence Alba Party, is bidding to return to Holyrood almost seven years after stepping down as SNP leader and first minister.

In an interview yesterday, he appeared to side with her critics – some of whom have defected from the SNP to Alba – who claim she has been too cautious in pursuit of independence.

Speaking on BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland programme, Salmond said: “I think in terms of urgency, in terms of getting on with that job, I am not certain why the case has not been pursued as urgently as it should have been over the last five years, but it should be pursued now.”

He said there is a “growing realisation in Scotland that that should be done”, adding: “People will get very frustrated if we return pro-independence majorities and nothing happens.”

The Alba Party is fielding candidates in all eight regions on Holyrood’s list ballot, and Salmond believes his party can help see a “supermajority” of MSPs in favour of independence elected on May 6.

Sturgeon has made clear that if she is re-elected as First Minister next month, her immediate focus will be on continuing to tackle the coronavirus crisis but has said she wants a referendum in the first half of the new parliament.

Salmond said: “I think the first job of that new parliament, with its supermajority, should be to pass a resolution in week one, instructing the Scottish Government to open negotiations with the UK Government on Scottish independence, that is the sort of urgency we want to inject into the independence debate.

“If it is a debate that is presented as a Tory Prime Minister against a Scottish Parliament, representing the Scottish people, the new declaration of independence, then Scotland will have a fundamental advantage in these negotiations.

“That’s the importance of getting a supermajority and the opportunity presented by this election.”

He also claimed there are a “range of options” open if Prime Minister Boris Johnson continues to block a second vote on independence.

Salmond said in those circumstances, “the idea of a plebiscite is open” – indicating there could be a vote organised in Scotland.

He said other options include the prospect of either domestic or international legal action against the UK Government, and calling for “international pressure, diplomatic pressure” to be put on Johnson.

Meanwhile, prominent outdoors writer and broadcaster Cameron McNeish has recorded a video in which he announces that he is backing Alba on the list in the May 6 election.

McNeish states: “The people of Scotland have been dragged out of Europe against our will and the Tory party in Westminster, a party Scotland has never voted for, now has its eyes set on demolishing our devolution arrangements and indeed the Scottish Parliament itself. Now is the time for self determination and we can take the first steps towards that by electing a supermajority of independence parties in May’s elections, adding to rather than detracting from everything achieved so far by the SNP.

“After a lot of consideration I’m going to give my first vote, the constituency vote to the SNP and in an effort to help achieve that supermajority at Holyrood I’m going to give my second vote to the Alba Party. “