KENNY MacAskill has told the Yes movement to stop “marching through” communities and start engaging with them instead if it wants to deliver independence.

The former SNP Justice Secretary, who is now the MP for East Lothian, said marching and flag waving were “all well and good” but didn’t win votes or protect services.

He said: “Direct engagement not just marching through is needed”.

He said independence had to be made “relevant to people’s daily lives”, such as public services, not “esoteric political theory”.

Writing in the new issue of the Scottish Left Review, Mr MacAskill also takes potshots at Nicola Sturgeon for failing to get behind a consultative referendum on independence.

READ MORE: Kenny MacAskill urges parties to exploit anti-Tory ‘anger’ in Scotland 

He said she “never possessed a Plan B” to cope with Boris Johnson denying her the legal power to hold Indyref2, adding: “Many believe, whatever the First Minister may think, that a consultative referendum is legally possible.”

Despite insisting Indyref2 is possible this year, Ms Sturgeon has ruled out any referendum in the short-term that lacks the legal consent of the UK Government.

But several senior SNP figures, including MP Joanna Cherry QC, now want Holyrood to legislate for a second referendum without Westminster’s agreement.

The aim is to provoke a legal challenge from the UK Government and a ruling by the Supreme Court on whether Holyrood could hold its own referendum unilaterally.

Ms Sturgeon has warned such a move could send the independence cause backwards, but others argue it would be no worse off, and would clarify if a unilateral referendum was legal.

Mr MacAskill urged the Yes movement to get out and do some unglamourous “grunt work” in the absence of an Indyref2 campaign.

He also said the SNP should welcome support from other parties and the public.

He welcomed Ms Sturgeon’s plan for a new Constitutional Convention, but said it must not be “restricted to the suits and usual suspects… a gathering of the ‘great and good’.”

He said: “Political strategy is required but so is practical action. Marching and flag waving are all good and well. But votes they don’t win and services they don’t protect.

“Work has to start in communities. Engaging with people, feeling their pain as austerity bites and offering hope to those simply enduring.

“It’s not glamorous and its mostly political ‘grunt’ work. But it needs done.

READ MORE: Neil Mackay: If the SNP oust Sturgeon it’s the beginning of the end for the party and independence 

“The greatest danger to our cause, whether independence or socialism, comes from defeatism and that’s why direct engagement not just marching through is needed.

“Folk need to know we care and that we’re acting to defend them.

“There’s a place for marches and demonstrations but fewer and bigger ones will have far greater effect and achieve more coverage.”

Implying there would be referendum this year, he said: “Parties supporting the right to choose require to be ready to move after the 2021 election.”

He also said if Mr Johnson continued to block Indyref2, Holyrood should pass a consultative referendum to test its validity in the courts.

He said: “Many believe, whatever the First Minister may think, that a consultative referendum is legally possible. There may well be judicial approval for it.

“But even if there isn’t then the organisation of one is also a democratic right. Test it legally and see and if not, then it’s Plan B.”

Meanwhile, Ladbrokes bookmakers is offering almost even money that Ms Sturgeon will be out of office by the end of the year.

On the bet “Sturgeon to be replaced as FM in 2020?”, its odds are 11/10 Yes and 2/3 No. Former SNP deputy Angus Robertson is favourite to be the next FM at 4/1, followed by Education Secretary John Swinney (6/1), Finance Secretary Kate Forbes (6/1) and MP Joanna Cherry QC (10/1).