ONE of Nicola Sturgeon’s former MPs has attacked the party’s leadership for failing to campaign for independence.

George Kerevan told a demonstration outside Holyrood the Yes movement “cannot be patient any longer” and must take matters into its own hands.

Mr Kerevan’s comments come amid growing impatience in the movement about the lack of progress towards a second referendum and debate over tactics for the 2021 election.

A new umbrella group, the Alliance for Independence, has said it intends to field candidates on the Holyrood list next year in an attempt to maximise the number of Yes MSPs elected.

However Nicola Sturgeon has refused to withdraw the SNP from the regional lists to give the Alliance a clear run, opening the way to a possible split in the Nationalist vote.

In recent weeks, Ms Sturgeon has also urged her own side to pipe down on independence, arguing that a “show not tell” approach to self-government during the Covid crisis is better.

The Scottish Tories said the splits in the SNP were making it unfit to govern.

Mr Kerevan, the MP for East Lothian from 2015 to 2017, was speaking at a “static, distanced demo” organised by the All Under One Banner group which has organised a series of marches across Scotland in recent years.

Ms Sturgeon has conspicuously failed to attend any of them.

Mr Kerevan said: “I’m the first to congratulate our Government on how it has handled the Covid crisis.

“But I’m also worried that for the last three years - essentially since the 2017 general election - the party leadership ... has refused to campaign in the streets for independence.

READ MORE: John Curtice: Yes vote favourite to win Scottish independence referendum for first time

“It’s left the campaigning to organisations like All Under One Banner. We cannot be patient any longer and the movement and the party cannot afford to be patient.”

Mr Kerevan also quoted Congressman John Lewis - the US civil rights campaigner who died recently - and called for Union Street in Aberdeen to be renamed “Independent Street”.

All Under One Banner founder Neil Mackay said people feared the SNP hierarchy were “dropping the cause” and urged “the leadership to lead”.

He told a crowd of around 50 people: “Yes, the leadership is performing very well on other matters but managing Covid should run parallel with fighting for independence.

“We should not be dropping the cause. That is why we’re all here today.

“We need the parliamentary wing to... work with us. We don’t need any more smoke signals, we don’t need any more whispers.”

He said further static demos would take place at Bannockburn on August 19 and in Glasgow’s George Square on September 17.

He also promised a rally will be announced on the day Ms Sturgeon announces Scotland’s moving to phase four in the exit out of lockdown.

Mr Kerevan also attacked the UK Government’s plans to maintain the UK internal market in the absence of EU law as the biggest attack on Holyrood in the 20 years of devolution.

READ MORE: Boris Johnson to visit Scotland in bid to ‘save the Union’

He said the UK Government wanted to give itself the power to veto devolved laws and policies such as the new £2bn Scottish National Investment Bank.

He said: “The Bank is designed to put money into Scottish businesses.

“But if the English parliament now decides that anything that bank invests in is an illegal subsidy that undermines businesses in England it can veto that.

“The new single market bill is probably the biggest threat to the devolved powers of the Scottish Parliament, the Welsh Parliament and Stormont that we have seen in 20 years.

“Which is why we can’t be patient, friends. Which is why we have to start getting angry.”

Chris McCusker, like Mr Kerevan a member of the SNP Socialists group, warned against “divisions” and “factions”.

He said: “It is not all about the SNP, it is not all about the Greens, or any other indy party.

“It is all about the freedom for Scotland and we should all remember that and respect everybody else’s view in achieving that.”

Scottish Tory deputy leader Annie Wells said: “More cracks are appearing within the SNP with every week that goes by. It used to just be the extreme fringes of the movement which publicly called SNP leadership into question.

“Now it’s councillors, senior activists and even former MPs. A party riven by such high-profile splits is not fit to govern.”