Kenny MacAskill, who served as a former justice secretary under Ms Sturgeon’s predecessor Alex Salmond, said the lack of preparation was “not just negligent but criminal”. The MP for East Lothian stressed it was time for a “huge rally on an unprecedented scale” to show support for IndyRef2.
He warned the political case for another vote hadn’t grown at the same pace as support for the SNP and independence itself.
Mr MacAskill added: “Even flagrant sins would be pardoned by some if progress was being made toward the Holy Grail.
“But instead, it’s been moribundity that’s prevailed with a leadership doing little if anything to progress it.
“Underpinning all the discontent has been a growing despair at the failure of SNP HQ to prepare for Indyref2.”
In her programme of proposed legislation announced earlier this week, Ms Sturgeon said a Bill setting out the proposed terms and timing for a second independence vote, as well as the question that could be asked, will be put before the Scottish Parliament in advance of the Holyrood election.
Meanwhile, a poll suggested 63 percent of voters expressed a definite opinion believe Scotland will vote Yes to independence.
The Panelbase poll of 1,011 people, conducted by Business for Scotland, also found 60 percent of voters expressing an opinion agree that a pro-independence majority at next year’s Holyrood election has the right to call an independence referendum.
Gordon MacIntyre-Kemp, chief executive of Business for Scotland, said: “The First Minister has stated that the Scottish Government will introduce legislation to allow for a new referendum.
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“We assume that a Yes majority in the 2021 Scottish elections would therefore lead to an autumn 2021 referendum.
“That 63 percent think that Scotland would vote for independence is significant, given that is 8 percent more than the 55 percent who stated they would support independence in the same poll.
“What makes this poll so interesting for political analysts is that (including don’t knows) only 29 percent think the union would prevail in a new independence referendum and only 35 percent think that an independence majority after Holyrood 2021 did not constitute a democratic mandate to hold such a referendum.
“Looking beneath the headline figures, this poll actually suggests that support for the union – and faith that the union will survive such a referendum – has hit rock bottom and is now a minority position.”
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Mr MacAskill continued: “Polls are favourable and the British state is in turmoil under an incompetent administration.
“But no one underestimates the scale of the challenge that remains or the onslaught that will be launched in the future.
“That’s why there is underlying anger and frustration.
“The MP has also urged voters to back a second pro-independence party as well as the SNP at the next Holyrood election.”
Mr MacAskill had previously urged the Scottish public the current Holyrood voting system made it hard to get a majority in both constituency and regional seats in an electoral region.
When asked if she was hitting the pause button independence campaigning, Nicola Sturgeon said that for the moment she was focused “100 percent on tackling COVID”.
She said the recent rise of support for independence in Scotland “maybe has a lesson in it for my own party”.
A SNP party source rebuffed Mr MacAskill comments and said: “Sir John Curtice [Scottish Poll expert] is more positive about recent polling than Kenny.”