ALEX Salmond has accused the SNP of having disrupted the campaign for independence over the gender recognition reform row.
The Alba leader and former first minister, weighed in on recent YouGov polling which showed an approval rating decline for Nicola Sturgeon as well support for independence in the wake of the case of Isla Bryson, a transgender prisoner who raped two women while she was a man, and the debate around self-identification.
The Sunday Times reported the survey showed independence support had fallen from 53% to 47%, with expert pollster Sir John Curtice suggesting the “battering” the Scottish Government had received in recent weeks, especially on the issue of transgender prisoners, had “taken its toll on SNP support”.
Speaking at a press conference in Edinburgh on Monday, the FM insisted pursuing the reforms was the “right” course of action and said she had seen “polls go up and down” in her time as an SNP politician.
Meanwhile, at a Burns Supper event in Dundee on Saturday night, Salmond said that the row had adversely affected the “strategy” in pursuit of Scottish independence.
The Alba Party have been vocal opponents of the Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill, which would make the administrative process to legally change gender simpler.
In a clip shared on social media, Salmond said that the approach to securing independence was to ensure no part of the Scottish community felt “threatened or isolated or disregarded or not appreciated”.
He said: “That strategy, and that's what it was, I thought was well understood.
“I thought everybody who wanted to see an independent country understood that you must open your heart and your mind to every part and section of that population.
“But to get to a position where you say to a majority of our people that you cannot have single-sex spaces, prised and worked and strived for, because of some daft ideology imported from elsewhere and as we've seen, imperfectly understood by its proponents in Scotland, borders on the totally absurd.
“And the 6% decline in the independence vote over a month. Think about that - 30 years of gradually building, building, building, building, so we get independence over 50% and then throw it away on some self-indulgent nonsense.”
Salmond, noting he disagreed with the principles of the reforms, said it wasn’t tactically “the most astute manoeuvre”.
He added: “So, give up self-identification, embrace self-determination is not just a simple slogan, it's as far as the Alba party can do as an instruction to the national movement to get back on course and set our sights back on the prize.”
In response to recent polling, the FM told a press conference that while it was not the “best ever” for the SNP, it would still equate to a "landslide victory" if an election was called tomorrow.
Sturgeon also said the issue wasn’t “ideological” for her, but about making life easier for a “very, very small group in our society”.
She added: “Now, it's important that we do that without infringing on the rights of other groups and I believe that legislation passed in parliament before Christmas struck the right balance.
“Obviously, it's not in force yet because of the reasons we are aware of but I believe parliament was right to pass the legislation.”
The SNP were contacted for comment.