Nationalists traded angry criticism over progress towards a second independence referendum, after claims the Scottish Government has done “no work” on the issue.
Alex Salmond’s splinter Alba movement, set up to fight the Holyrood election with an urgent call for independence, challenged the SNP in the hope of pushing the cause further.
A freedom of information request to the government confirmed no ministers or civil servants “were working on updating the plan for an independent Scotland”.
Meanwhile, Highland mountaineer and author Cameron McNeish became the latest well-known SNP member to quit in frustration.
He announced his decision at the weekend, highlighting a lack of progress on independence as well as problems with land reform and environment policy. Mr McNeish said he does not intend to join Alba or another party.
On social media, former party colleagues blamed each other in sour exchanges.
Perth and North Perthshire MP Pete Wishart said Alba “detests” the SNP as “traitors and sell-outs”.
On his social media Twitter account he added: “There’s just hatred there.”
He hit out at “Alba menaces” but claimed his experience against unionists in Labour during the 2014 referendum was worse.
Chris McEleny, a councillor who left to join Alba before the election, rejected claims his new party “hates” the SNP.
He responded: “Some of my best friends are in the SNP, I just really dislike the devolutionist stance of the party.”
Mr McNeish claimed: “Wish our independence politicians would grow up and stop behaving like spoiled children with their talk of ‘hate’ and division. We pay them a lot of money to get the job done.
“Time they acted like adults and just get on with it. Should be fighting the Tories, not each other.”
The Scottish Parliament election in May had been dominated by arguments about independence being either a distraction or vital part of the recovery from the Covid pandemic.
Unionists wanted the SNP to avoid using civil service time on a second referendum, but Alba said they should have been doing more.
Nicola Sturgeon promised not to focus on the constitutional question in the early part of this new parliamentary term.
‘Priority is the pandemic’
A freedom of information request revealed on Monday no work had been undertaken since the pandemic hit in March 2020 – apart from the promised draft referendum bill this March.
The response stated: “As of July 3, 2021, no ministers or civil servants in the Scottish Government were working on updating the plan for an independent Scotland from 2014.”
Further decisions on progress will be for Scottish government ministers to take.
Mr McEleny, who is now Alba general secretary, said: “These are not the actions of a Government that are pursuing Scotland’s independence as it should be, with democratic determination.”
The Scottish Government said: “Our priority has been and remains tackling the pandemic.
“When the public health crisis has passed, people in Scotland have the right to determine their own future through a referendum, as was voted for in the recent Scottish Parliament election.”