A FORMER Cabinet Secretary and a former SNP deputy leader have launched a withering attack on their party for a lack of progress and fresh thinking on independence.

Alex Neil and Jim Sillars weighed in after deputy First Minister John Swinney admitted in his speech to the SNP’s online conference that party members were “impatient”.

Mr Neil, a former health secretary, said his party showed “no sign” of original thought or hard work to achieve Scottish independence, and must now “put flesh on the bones”.

He told Scotland on Sunday the SNP must do more than “shout” about independence.

With Boris Johnson blocking Indyref2, Mr Neil suggested an “alternative strategy” was the way ahead.

He said that if the SNP won a majority of votes and seats  in the next Westminster election it could be used as a “mandate for independence”.

He said: “It’s not enough just to shout, ‘independence, independence, independence’, we’ve got to put flesh on the bones of the argument.

“That means spelling out in detail the answers to questions on currency, economic policy, the oil and gas industry, and our trading relationships.

“It’s not just a case of updating the White Paper [of 2013]. It needs to be completely rewritten.

“My concern at the moment is that there is no sign of that hard work and original thinking being done, despite the fact we need to do that to have any chance of success next time round.”

Mr Sillars, who like Mr Neil backed Brexit, said “nothing of substance” on Scottish independence was being done by the SNP, and it was merely repeating its old lines.

After Mr Swinney used his speech to say Scots must “stand up and be counted” to protect devolution from a corrupt Westminster Government, Mr Sillars said: “John could not set the political heather on fire with a can of petrol and a lighted torch.”