SNP infighting has intensified with veteran party figures blaming the election collapse on Nicola Sturgeon and John Swinney.

The SNP vote plummeted in Thursday’s general election, leading to the loss of 39 seats at Westminster, taking just nine, while a resurgent Labour won 37, up from a single seat in 2019.

Responding to a clip of an ITV interview where Ms Sturgeon blamed John Swinney's campaign for the election rout, former health secretary, Alex Neil,  in turn said Ms Sturgeon, along with her successor Humza Yousaf and his successor John Swinney were responsdible.

"Nicola was the main author of this defeat along with Humza and John," he wrote on X, formerly Twitter yesterday.

READ MORE: After the tears, what now for the SNP and independence?

He went on to call for a fresh leadership team of Deputy First Minister Kate Forbes and Westminster leader Stephen Flynn.

"They must take responsibility and make way for a fresh leadership team headed by Kate Forbes and Stephen Flynn."

Mr Neil also told the Sunday Times that voters had told canvassers that they had a “negative feeling” about Ms Sturgeon over her government’s performance as well as the police investigation into party finances.

Other factors cited by voters switching from the SNP included the Michael Matheson affair — which involved his £11,000 parliamentary iPad expenses claim — the pursuit of a gender identity reform, the state of the NHS and education and an “incoherent and confusing so-called strategy on independence”.

READ MORE: Cherry blames Sturgeon as recriminations begin for SNP rout

“Despite the lack of enthusiasm for [Sir Keir] Starmer a lot of people who previously voted for the SNP felt that the Scottish government had lost the plot and weren’t coming up with a believable set of proposals to tackle the cost of living crisis,” Mr Neil said.

“The SNP needs a fresh start with a leader who isn’t associated with the failures of the Sturgeon years plus a new and credible independence strategy.”

He added: “Doing all this is essential to preventing another rout in 2026. Not doing it will result in guaranteed failure. If that happens the independence cause will suffer a huge setback.”

Jim Sillars, the party’s former deputy leader in the early Nineties, said that the “guilt” for presiding over an electoral rout “lies squarely on the shoulders of John Swinney”.

READ MORE: Cherry: Sturgeon owes defeated SNP MPs an apology

Writing in the Scottish Daily Mail,  Mr Sillars said that Mr Swinney’s pitch to the voters that if the SNP won a majority of seats he would seek to start independence negotiations was always “ludicrous”.

“It wasn’t Stephen Flynn [the party’s Westminster leader] and his MP group who were judged and found wanting. It was John Swinney and the Sturgeon legacy of incompetence, mess, failure and the level of mediocrity in the cabinet that was on trial.”

Their comments came after former SNP MP Joanna Cherry blamed Ms Sturgeon and the party's former leader at Westminster Ian Blackford for the humiliating defeat.

Speaking in the early hours of Friday morning to ITV's election show while Ms Sturgeon was a commentator on the same programme, Ms Cherry said Ms Sturgeon and Mr Blackford failed to capitalise on Brexit and the unpopular premiership of Boris Johnson to progress the independence case and allow debate in the party.

Today, Mr Blackford hit back and described Ms Cherry as "bitter".

In response to Ms Cherry’s comments on election night, Mr Blackford said: “She is just someone who is bitter, never mind losing her seat.

“I have to look at everything I did when I was Westminster leader and of course I did have a good relationship with Nicola.

“Should I have pushed more on certain things? I don’t know.”

Stewart McDonald, the former SNP MP who lost his Glasgow South seat on Friday morning, said in his Scotsman column that the electorate had imposed a “hard pause” on the party’s “national mission of independence”.

“There must also be a deeper reckoning within the SNP about where next for the party and for independence,” he said.

“Even with the caveat that Labour’s comeback is numerically shallow and inflated by an unfair voting system, the truth is that we have strayed over time from our hard-earned reputation for good governance and being the natural vehicle for people’s aspirations.”

While acting as an ITV political pundit on Thursday, Ms Sturgeon accepted some responsibility for the SNP’s collapse but criticised the campaign strategy.

“I think for anybody in the current leadership to sort of take refuge in somehow it’s all my fault … would just be taking the easy solution or response to this, rather than looking seriously and hard at what the real issues are,” she said.

The SNP had “left themselves between two stools on the independence question”, she said, adding that placing the constitution on the front page of the party’s manifesto “was never followed through on a sort of day-to-day basis in the campaign”.

After the count, which left the SNP with just nine seats after previously holding 48, Swinney admitted that the SNP needed a period of “soul searching.”

Sir Keir Starmer said on Saturday that he would prioritise “co-operation over conflict” in working with Swinney while Anas Sarwar, Labour’s Scottish leader, said that the prime minister “understands and cares for” Scotland and would work in the “national interest” with Scotland’s first minister.

Mr Swinney discussed “areas of mutual interest” in a Friday night phone call with Starmer and is expected to meet the prime minister when he visits Scotland in the next few days.