Alex Salmond has accused the SNP leadership of being a “total shower” who “produce convoluted gobbledygook because they have no idea what they are doing”.

The Alba party leader launched the vitriolic attack on his old party as he encouraged his activists to work up a sweat for independence and poach members from the SNP. 

He told them: “Alba has the X factor. We have the 3 Ps - principle, policies and people. 

“But to achieve our objective we need another and that is Perspiration.”

The former First Minister, who led the SNP for 20 years before the No result in the 2014 referendum, made the comments in the keynote speech at the Alba conference.

Addressing delegates at the Woodside Halls in Glasgow, he said the SNP had given up the fight for independence and forfeited their claim to lead the Yes movement.

With attacks on Nicola Sturgeon and Humza Yousaf, it marked an end to Alba’s efforts to work with the SNP to field single Yes candidates at the general election.

Mr Salmond said: “If Alba had not been formed two years ago it would be necessary to form it today.

"The SNP has abandoned the independence campaign and are campaigning not to demand independence, not even a referendum but to ask Westminster for a ‘democratic effect’.

“Under the leadership of Nicola Sturgeon, the SNP conned the independence campaign. 

“Under the leadership of Humza Yousaf, the SNP have abandoned the independence campaign and thus abdicated any claim to leadership of it.”

The recent SNP conference agreed to treat winning a majority of seats at the coming election as a mandate for independence talks, although Unionists disagree.

Mr Salmond said that if Westminster refused to respect the will of the Scottish people, international support should be mobilised to force it to back down. 

“If I can say that in two simple sentences, then why can’t the SNP? Can I suggest the answer.

"They produce convoluted gobbledygook because they have no idea what they are doing. The language betrays the fact that they have no seriousness of intent, they are stringing people along.”

He said the SNP’s weak approach had emboldened UK prime ministers to say No to Indyref2.

“They have looked the SNP Government straight in the eye and have judged there is nothing there.

"No threat, no ambition, no plan, no seriousness of intent. 

“And that is not going to change any time soon.”

He reminded the conference he had given Mr Yousaf his first job of any kind.

“He is not useless - he is quite an affable sort of guy. I sympathise with him greatly about the current circumstances of his family.

“But affability doesn’t cut it with Westminster no more than continuity does in Scotland.

"They look at you and judge - is this a First Minister leading a nation with steel in his character and the ability to take us on and win - or will he just shiver, melt and run away at the first sign of pressure.

"Right now they think Humza is melting.” 

After criticising the SNP and accusing it of lifting Alba’s ideas - “Humza used to write my speeches, now I am writing his” - Mr Salmond set out a defection strategy.

He said: “ I believe Alba is the last best hope for independence in this generation. We have a clear goal to make our breakthrough at the next Scottish elections. 

“Given that the SNP have abdicated their leadership of the independence movement our intervention in next year’s election will be widespread.

“However, to achieve this breakthrough we need recruits from across the political spectrum and in particular from the SNP.

"And I shall let you into a secret - you don’t make people come and join you by beating them over the head by telling them how right you are and how wrong they have been.  

“Alba has the X factor - we have the 3 Ps - Principle, Policies and People. But to achieve our objective we need another and that is Perspiration

“We need to spend less time on line and more time on the doorstep, we need street warriors for ALBA not keyboard ones, and we need to extend the hand of friendship to those who only now are facing the dawning realisation that they have been strung along for almost ten years by the new SNP.

“There is no-one in this hall or indeed in this country who has more reason to feel resentful of the leadership of the new SNP than I do.

"They are a total shower but within that party are still many fine nationalists and fellow Scots. We need their help to win.”

Calling for immediate ceasefire in Israel-Hamas war in Gaza, he said: "You cannot justify the deaths of thousands of children in Gaza on the basis that you were actually aiming at someone else. Whoever you were aiming at, the children are just as dead.

"What is totally lacking from Westminster is any constructive proposal for securing a peace.

"The UK is the former colonial power. UK politicians have therefore some measure of responsibility for eight decades of a constant cycle of violence and it is no use just parroting America.

"Hamas can’t be left in control of Gaza. An Israeli occupation will lead to a new generation of terrorism. Perhaps Gaza could be run by the UN or by a protectorate of Sunni states until it can administer itself properly and democratically.

"I don’t know the full answer, perhaps no-one does, but I do know this. You will never find a way forward until you stop the killing, and you will never find a permanent peace without justice for the Palestinian people.

The SNP has been asked for comment.