THE SNP must be “honest and realistic” about the state of the party ahead of the next General Election, according to an MP.

Writing in The National, Tommy Sheppard, the MP for Edinburgh East, said that it was time for the party to be “frank” about the current situation it finds itself in.

“The police investigation is having an effect,” he writes.

“It will need to conclude and we will need to deal with the consequences.

“Our activist base is smaller and tired. Our party is still Scotland’s most popular but political representation of the movement has splintered.

“There’s caution and uncertainty in the population, and not enough confidence in our ranks.

"This can change. But we need to be honest and realistic". 

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The party has endured a series of tumultuous events following Nicola Sturgeon’s decision to step down as first minister in February.

A furore over membership numbers saw Murray Foote, the party’s former head of communications, resign in March.

Three high-profile figures within the party have also been arrested and released without charge as part of a police investigation into its finances, including Nicola Sturgeon and her husband Peter Murrell.

However, Sheppard said the way forward was to make independence more relevant than ever and settle on a strategy to make it happen.

He added that ensuring the Scottish Parliament be given the authority to hold an independence referendum should be a key demand if Labour seeks SNP cooperation in Westminster following the next General Election. 

He added: “The Supreme Court says the Scottish Parliament does not have the legal authority to organise a referendum on independence.

“We must demand that authority. We should seek a mandate to change the British constitution to permanently transfer power to Holyrood to consult and represent the people who live here on how they are governed.

“If SNP votes are needed for Labour to govern, then we will extract a price for that cooperation.”

The full version of Tommy Sheppard's article will be available to read in tomorrow's edition of The National.