A prominent campaigner for Scottish independence has said a second referendum will not come in the next five years if Nicola Sturgeon is still in power.

Robin McAlpine, director of the Common Weal think tank and a prominent voice in the Yes Movement, attacked the First Minister in a scathing blog post on Thursday, and said it is 'over to the loyalists now' to deliver.

The 48-year-old accused Sturgeon of hiding behind her “self image” for three years, and behind Brexit for the next three years, to avoid talk of independence.

He now claims that, for the next five years, the First Minister 'plans to hide behind Covid' and will not focus on delivering a second referendum.

READ MORE: Sturgeon says independence parked 'for as long as it takes' to deal with Covid

He wrote: "If you really believe that the SNP is going to be in the same polling position by election time you probably need a reality check.

"Politics doesn’t work like that and a full year of ‘Covid, Covid, look at me, not my record’ isn’t likely to play out.

"There are those that would like you to believe the Salmond affair is over. It is no such thing."

HeraldScotland: Robin McAlpine.Robin McAlpine.

Speaking to ITV's Peston on Wednesday, Sturgeon said she will park the independence question “for as long as it takes” to cope with the coronavirus pandemic.

She said she would be 'on the wrong side of public opinion pretty quickly' if she focused on the constitution instead of the pandemic, and urged her party to drop it for now.

But McAlpine says he gives the prospect of achieving independence in the next five years as “being as close as damnit to zero.”

He added: "I’m tired with this, and much as I love the independence movement, more far-fetched schemes hatched on social media but with no chance of implementation may make you feel better, but will be as pointless over the five years to come as they were in the five that we just lived through.

"So as far as I’m concerned, it’s over to the loyalists now.

"Don’t tell me it’ll be different this time, that there is a secret plan, that the rise in the polls is all a result of genius, that supposed competence wins referendums, that you really, really promise to hold them to account this time, that there will be a manifesto commitment.

READ MORE: Sillars urges Sturgeon to put Yes movement ahead of SNP at Holyrood election

"I don’t believe a word of it. Set out your detailed plan now or, to quote that sentiment towards people like me who actually want independence, f*** off."

A recent poll put Sturgeon and the SNP set for a vast majority at next year's Holyrood elections, and predicted support for independence was sitting at a strong 54%.

And in the last week, reports have emerged of former SNP MSP Dave Thompson retiring from the party to form his own pro-independence party, the Alliance for Independence'.