Nicola Sturgeon has accused Alex Salmond’s Alba Party of jeopardising Scottish independence by attempting to “bulldoze” forward in a way that is “contemptuous” of the voters who are key to a Yes victory.
The SNP leader launched a fresh attack on her predecessor and former mentor, as she ruled out working with Mr Salmond due to her concerns about his “personal conduct”, as well as a strategy she feared was “risking putting people off”.
The first minister also raised doubts about what the Alba Party stands for.
Meanwhile, Ms Sturgeon defended her own record amid claims from some independence supporters that the SNP government has been too cautious on progress towards a second independence referendum, highlighting opinion polls showing a majority of Scots would now vote Yes.
But she feared that work could be undermined by talk from Alba Party candidates and backers of the need for a “supermajority”.
Speaking to Sophy Ridge on Sunday on Sky News, Ms Sturgeon said: “We need a simple majority in the Scottish Parliament to give us the mandate for our independence referendum, and then of course we need a majority of the Scottish people to win independence.
“And when I listen to people who talk about supermajorities they sound as if they think we can just bulldoze our way to independence, which is almost contemptuous towards those that we need to persuade.
When I listen to people who talk about supermajorities they sound as if they think we can just bulldoze our way to independence, which is almost contemptuous towards those that we need to persuade.”
“I listen to the rhetoric around independence and it seems to skip over the need to do the hard work of persuading those who voted No in 2014, many of whom are now open minded, I know many of these people, but want to be treated with respect and want us to make a convincing persuasive case to them.
“That’s the hard work that I’ve been doing. Polling for independence is at a higher level now than it has ever been, but we’ve got to continue with that hard work, with that respectful discourse, and that is how we win independence.
“I’m not particularly interested in an arm-wrestling contest with other people about who supports independence the most.
“That’s a conversation with ourselves. I’m interested in persuading people who are open-minded but need still to be persuaded, so we build a majority for independence that then expresses itself in a legitimate process, because that is how we win independence and that’s what I want to do.”
Asked if she would work with Mr Salmond if he was elected to Holyrood next month, the first minister said she had concerns about what his party stood for.
“No I’m not going to work with Alex Salmond. Firstly I’ve got concerns about his personal conduct which he hasn’t acknowledged or apologised for,” she said.
“I don’t agree with the approach to independence because I think it is risking putting people off, rather than bringing people towards us.
“There’s no short-cut to independence, we’ve got to do it through winning a majority and allowing that majority to express itself in a legitimate process.
“I also don’t know what Alba stands for. For me independence is not an end in itself, it’s a means to a better Scotland – a fair, equal Scotland where we value everybody who lives here for who they are.
“I don’t know what Alba stands for, but from what I’ve seen so far, I probably would have some concerns about that.”