THE SNP look “out of touch” and like they have “forgotten how to listen”, one of the party’s most senior MPs has said.

Writing in The National, Alyn Smith said that “too many” Scottish Government ministers and the special advisers (spads) “seem behind the curve” on how issues are perceived outwith the Holyrood bubble.

Smith, an MEP for 15 years who now serves as an MP and the SNP’s Europe spokesperson at Westminster, made the comments in the wake of a defeat in the Rutherglen and Hamilton West by-election, which saw a 20.4% swing to Labour.

He wrote: “We need to heed the wake up call. Fact is, and I’ve proven I will defend my party to my last breath, I think the SNP looks like we’ve forgotten how to listen.

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“We look out of touch, both in our perceived priorities and on how we manage the day to day business of government like procuring ferries, recycling bottles, upgrading roads and protecting our marine environment.

“This matters, our credibility is built on diligent competence. Too many of our ministers and spads seem behind the curve on how benignly intended consultations are perceived outside the bubble until a DRS-style collapse is unavoidable.

“Humza Yousaf (below) has made decent strides in sharpening up the government, this needs to accelerate.”

The National: Humza Yousaf has reflected on a heavy by-election defeat for the SNP (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Smith argued that the SNP cannot simply double down on independence messaging, as that would risk coming across as “navel gazing” insteading of engaging with key issues such as the cost of living crisis.

He said that while he would support First Minister Humza Yousaf’s motion saying the SNP will treat winning the “most seats” at the next General Election as a mandate to open independence negotiations, he would also back amendments to it.

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Smith wrote: “At SNP conference next week we have an important choice in front of us. I think it will be as significant as when the SNP decided back in the 90s to participate in devolution.

“I think more is needed, and that is why I’m backing an amendment drafted by Tommy Sheppard to the effect that we also, as well as independence, campaign for the transfer of the power to hold a binding referendum. And more, the transfer of the powers to take serious credible action on energy costs, employment rights, the just transition and more …

“The manifesto, and the campaign, will then not just be about independence, because a vote for the SNP is, has always and always will be a vote for independence. It will be about the powers to choose independence, and to tackle the cost of living crisis where Westminster has demonstrably failed.

“We’ll be able to bring forward ambitious policies not just for a devolved Scotland but an independent one. We’ll be able to credibly say not just that we want the powers but what we’ll do with them and why we’ll make better use of them than Westminster.”

You can read Smith’s full column on The National's website or in Wednesday's paper.