A FORMER deputy leader of the SNP has urged Nicola Sturgeon to “eject” the Scottish Greens from government and not give in to “scaremongering” over climate change.

Jim Sillars also accused the First Minister of committing a monumental act of “national self-harm” by coming out against new oil field developments in Scotland’s waters.

Criticising the “stupidity” of her position, he said it meant an independent Scotland would be denied access to a transformative source of wealth that could improve lives.

“Buried with that oil now lie the aspirations of a nation,” he said.

The SNP accused him of being “grossly irresponsible” by downplaying climate change.

Mr Sillars made the remarks in a guest speech to the St Andrew’s Night dinner of the East Lothian branch of Alex Salmond’s Alba party.

In November, Ms Sturgeon came out against the development of the Cambo oilfield west of of Shetland on the grounds it would contribute to the climate crisis. 

“I do not think that we can continue to give the go-ahead to new oilfields,” she told MSPs.

READ MORE: Nicola Sturgeon finally says Cambo oil field 'shouldn't get the green light'

The decision on whether Cambo goes ahead currently lies with the UK Oil and Gas agency, but Ms Sturgeon's opposition was seen as the template for independence.

Mr Salmond said it was a “a stunning backwards step” for the Yes movement.

In his speech, Mr Sillars called it “the moment when the hopes of a generation were extinguished and the catastrophe of the Greens in government was laid bare”.

He said: “The Greens should now be ejected from government, and put back on the fringe where they belong.”

Ms Sturgeon struck a five-year joint government deal with the Scottish Greens in August, with party co-leaders Patrick Harvie and Lorna Slater now ministers.

Mr Sillars, who was SNP deputy to Mr Salmond in the early 1990s, said Ms Sturgeon wanted to keep “a source of great wealth… buried and unused in the ground”. That would “cruelly deny children in poverty the better life that would result from its exploitation”. 

He said: “That is the reality of the Sturgeon policy on oil, buried with that oil, now lie the aspirations of a nation.”

READ MORE: Scottish Greens co-leader Lorna Slater backs occupation of UK Government building

Mr Sillars, whose late wife Margo MacDonald coined the SNP slogan “It’s Scotland Oil” in the 1970s, said the truth was Scots had never owned “even a cupful of the black stuff”, as it had been exploited by the UK Government and the revenue hoarded by the Treasury.

“Now, if the Sturgeon policy becomes gospel, it won’t ever be true, even in an independent Scotland,” he said. 

“I can think of no greater act of deliberate national self-harm done to the Scottish people than her capricious rejection of the Cambo field. A rejection which stands as a repudiation of the oil industry’s importance to Scotland now, and in the future.”

He said that beyond the threat to 100,000 oil and gas jobs, most in the North East, he said the policy shift also had implications for the economics of independence.

He said: “For an independent government, getting a share of the black stuff itself, as well as tax receipts, will be a national priority. 

“Oil will not only be a source of revenue, but more importantly a prime source of capital investment without which a new and successful economy cannot be built.

“For the last sixty years, the oil has not been ours and, consequently, immense flows of capital wealth have passed by our nation, while many of our people have become poorer. “Nationalists have rightly bemoaned this catastrophe, only for Sturgeon to set it in stone. 

“Her policy will be an insane repetition of decades of loss. Such insanity exists nowhere else in this world.”

The Herald: Jim Sillars and Nicola SturgeonJim Sillars and Nicola Sturgeon

He added: “By conceding policymaking to one single person and abandoning critical thinking, the SNP and much of the independence movement is now lost in a green miasma along with Nicola – a fog of ineptitude and self-reverential platitudes”.

Mr Sillars also urged people to “think differently about the climate scaremongering that has so many in its grip, and get our miniscule emissions in perspective”. 

He claimed there was “a body of eminent scientists who do not agree that we are in a climate emergency”, adding: “The only thing that is melting in this world are the brains of a number of politicians.”

A spokesperson for the Scottish Greens said: “Scientific consensus, the UN and the International Energy Agency agree that nations must stop expanding oil and gas production if we are to limit global warming to a level we can survive.

“Successful independent countries of around five million people like Denmark and New Zealand are already moving away from fossil fuels. Scotland is not too poor or too wee to do the same. We must move on from the arguments of the past so that Scotland can undertake a Just Transition and meet our potential to lead Europe in renewable energy.”

An SNP spokesperson added: "Denying the reality of climate change by dismissing it as ‘scaremongering’ is grossly irresponsible.

"The SNP is wholly determined to a Just Transition, protecting hundreds of thousands of jobs for decades to come, and to seeing Scotland fulfil its potential as an independent country – unlike Jim Sillars, who has called for independence to be 'de-prioritised'."

Although not a member of Alba, Mr Sillars urged people to vote for them in May’s Holyrood election, when the party stood on the list system. It polled 1.7 per cent and won no MSPs.