Alex Salmond will tomorrow accuse his old party of squandering the idealism and hope of the Yes movement and “abdicating their right to lead the independence campaign”.

The Alba party leader will claim “those unwilling or unable to face Westminster down have hidden behind arguments of process in stringing the Scottish people along”.

The former First Minister will also attack the SNP for failing to talk about the ‘when’ of independence, despite Westminster having “never been politically weaker”.

Mr Salmond is expected to make the remarks in his keynote speech to the Alba party’s autumn conference in Glasgow’s Woodside Halls.

At the recent SNP conference in Aberdeen, Humza Yousaf urged his party to talk about the ‘why’ of independence - the reasons for it rather than the ‘how’ of process.

But Mr Salmond, who led the SNP for 20 years before losing the 2014 referendum, will argue that fails to address the obvious and urgent question of when independence will happen.

He is expected to say: “Over the past eight years I have watched on as the dramatic gains made by the independence movement over a quarter of a century have been thrown away as political opportunity after political opportunity has been allowed to pass Scotland by.

“Those unwilling or unable to face Westminster down have hidden behind arguments of process in stringing the Scottish people along.

“We’ve heard from the SNP recently that we should concentrate on the ‘why’ of independence and not the ‘how’.

“In fact most Scots know why. They live through it in the day to day challenge of trying to make ends meet in a very British cost of living crisis.”

He will say voters also need to know the ‘how’ part, the route to achieving independence. 

He will say: “Those in privileged positions in the Scottish Parliament may think that they have all the time in the world.

“With one in four Scottish children living in poverty, pensioners scared to turn their heating on in our land of energy plenty, and this week the Joseph Rowntree Foundation reporting millions suffering from destitution across the UK, with the Yes city of Glasgow being in the highest band of that deprivation, I challenge anyone in the SNP leadership to look those people in the eye and tell them that the timing of independence is not important.

“The when of independence is vital to keep hope alive.”

Mr Salmond, whose party has yet to win a council or parliamentary seat since being formed in spring 2021, will conclude: “The case for independence in this time cannot be allowed by default to be kicked into the long grass wrapped up in a hot-potch of an SNP strategy that no credible politician or intelligent lay person could possibly believe in. 

“The SNP have left a vacuum where idealism and hope once prevailed and abdicated their right to lead the independence campaign.

“Alba are now the only political party in Scotland that demands Scotland’s independence as an immediate priority, and it’s time for those that share this belief to join us in delivering it.”