A FORMER SNP deputy leader has said there is “no point” in a second independence referendum at present as the Yes side is unprepared and lacking in support.

Jim Sillars said there was no national organisation in place and no “intellectually sound” groundwork on issues such as currency, energy, defence and geopolitics.

In a letter to the Herald, Mr Sillars said a “rock solid support for independence” of 60 per cent was needed before the Yes side would be in a position to win.

His comments cast doubt on Nicola Sturgeon’s launch of a fresh independence drive this week with Yes lagging around four percentage points behind No.

The First Minister also said the full prospectus for independence would not be published before the end of the year as it is emerging in instalments.

There is a looming legal battle over whether Holyrood can hold Indyref2 without Westminster consent, and without valid legislation no formal campaign groups can be established and no regulated campaign spending take place.

SNP Constitution Secretary Angus Robertson has said the Scottish Government intends to stage Indyref2 in October 2023, but the timetable already looks tight.

Mr Sillars wrote: “I see no point in a referendum on the constitutional question until the side that wants it, mine, is in a position to win.  

“That is not the case now, and will not be the case until rock solid support for independence is around 60 per cent. 

“That is the figure given by Michael Gove and Alister Jack as the measure of support for a legal referendum that could not be ignored.”

He went on: “To go from where support for independence is now to where it will need to be, requires a number of actions. 

“A comprehensive intellectually sound document that addresses the main issues of trade and borders, debt and currency, the use and importance of of all energy resources, and the geography and geopolitics that places us within the sphere of influence of Nato, especially taking account of the state interests of its United States and UK components, now that Russia is no longer a potential adversary but a proven aggressor.  

“To campaign on that needs a national organisation. There is none at present.”

READ MORE: 'Incompetent' Sturgeon not ready for Indyref2, warns former SNP deputy

He said it was more than 300 years since the Scottish nation “had to consider the importance of spheres of influence and state interests” and now had to do so again. 

“A small nation in a geopolitical strategic position, crucial to major powers, has to take account of that fact if it seeks to have their acquiescence and not opposition to its effort for independence.  

“Often at past SNP conferences I have seen the enthusiasm created by the call that no man can set the bounds of a nation. It is superb rhetoric, but not true.”

However he agreed with Ms Sturgeon’s argument that it was “no longer tenable for unionists to insist that we must shelter under the strong economic umbrella of the UK”, given ample analysis showing the UK is outperformed on many fronts by smaller EU states. 

An SNP spokesperson said: "This comes as no surprise from the man who has called for independence to be ‘deprioritised’ - the SNP Government will get on with delivering the referendum for which there is a cast-iron democratic mandate and making the case for independence."