THE negotiations that led to the first independence referendum should have been about more than getting a “one-off kick of the ball”, an SNP MSP has said, suggesting that Alex Salmond’s handling of the situation a decade ago put Scotland "in the dilemma we are now".

Jim Fairlie, who represents Perthshire South and Kinross-shire, also argued against the former first minister’s proposals of fielding only one Yes-backing candidate in each constituency at the next General Election.

Salmond, now the leader of the Alba party, wrote to SNP MPs earlier in June urging them to enter into a “Scotland United for Independence” pact.

While he agreed there should be “a united front”, Fairlie said it should be about uniting behind a party that “can actually win”.

READ MORE: Jim Fairlie: SNP's 2011 election landslide deserved more than indyref1

Writing in The National, Fairlie drew attention to the Supreme Court’s ruling that Holyrood does not have the power to hold an independence referendum without Westminster consent.

He went on: “It’s clear that was part of the deal for the Labour party from day one and we shouldn’t let them forget it. They thought devolution would kill the idea of independence – but put controls in the Scotland Act just to make sure.

“Alex Salmond was part of this process, which perhaps his supporters don’t want to talk about. And, of course, signing the Edinburgh Agreement under Section 30 set the precedent for where we are now.

“I know hindsight is a wonderful thing, but perhaps if Alex had used that phenomenal 2011 win as a means of demanding to amend the Scotland Act to return the constitutional powers to Holyrood ad infinitum, rather than for a one-off kick of the ball, we wouldn’t be in the dilemma we are now?”

The National: Jim Fairlie MSP

Fairlie (above) said that the next General Election should be fought on the issue of having the power to hold a referendum devolved to Holyrood.

He wrote: “For me, that is what our demand must be in the Westminster election. If we win, we should demand that constitutional affairs be returned to Holyrood so that it is within the powers of the Parliament that sits in Edinburgh to ask the people what they want their constitutional future to be.

“It should have always been in the hands of the people of Scotland, it wasn’t the Labour party’s gift to give away. If we win, that power should be returned.”

Alba said that their MP Neale Hanvey had already proposed a Scotland (Self-Determination) Bill at Westminster which would see the power to hold indyref2 devolved – adding that “quite disgracefully, [it] has been signed by only a handful of SNP MPs”.

Responding to Fairlie’s piece, Alba’s national organisation convener Denise Findlay said that successive SNP election wins had achieved nothing since Salmond stepped down as the party’s chief.

Findlay told The National: “Jim Fairlie clearly wasn’t active in the SNP at the time of the 2011 election landslide and it shows in his article.

“Alex Salmond required only one election mandate to deliver Scotland’s independence referendum, which, although it was not won, transformed independence support from below 30% to near 50%.

“Since then, successive SNP election mandates have achieved the square root of nothing, and it is Einstein’s definition of madness to believe that repeating a campaign for a referendum will result in anything other than another Westminster refusal.”

READ MORE: Alex Salmond writes to SNP MPs about strategy for next General Election

She went on: “A section 30 referendum is not the only democratic way to independence, nor is it even a ‘gold standard’. It was right for its time, but the ill-fated venture to the Supreme Court has now given Westminster the confidence to say no forever and a day.

“The SNP are in substantial political trouble, and the cloud over the party is not likely to disperse any time soon. The positive way forward for the national movement is to promote the idea that all independence parties campaign together with one candidate in each constituency seeking a popular mandate to directly negotiate our national independence from Westminster.”

Findlay insisted that Alba’s proposal would see the national conversation shift from “how many seats the SNP will lose to Labour [to] how many seats the Yes alliance can win”.

The SNP are due to hold a convention on independence on June 24 in Dundee. However, it has recently been confirmed that the party’s strategy will not be decided at that event, but instead at a national conference later in the year.