A FORMER SNP MP who lost his seat in the General Election has suggested party structures and staffing are not “fit for purpose”.

In a scathing verdict on the party’s “lacklustre and reactive” campaign, Alyn Smith claimed the SNP put more resource than ever into focus groups and polling but then proceeded to “ignore their findings”.

The former MEP, who lost to Labour’s Chris Kane in Stirling and Strathallan, defended the leadership of John Swinney by saying none of what happened was his fault.

Rather he insisted the “malaise is deeper” and the party needs a complete “moor burn”.

He said: “We cannot run away from the fact we didn’t just lose, we lost very badly. We need a moor burn and everything needs to be on the table. 

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“None of last Thursday’s events lie at John Swinney’s door, the tram tracks were laid long since and the malaise is deeper

“For a few years now, I fear we have collectively looked out of touch and unresponsive. The party put more resource than ever into polling and focus groups, then ignored their findings.

“There’s a need for an honest appraisal of whether the party structures and staffing are fit for purpose. I would suggest not.

“I’ll always be true to independence in Europe and believe we have plenty reasons to be confident. But not unless we change.”

The SNP were reduced to just nine seats at Westminster as Labour took a swathe of seats in the central belt while the LibDems also made gains.

Figures from across the party have shared their views of where it all went wrong, with Westminster group leader Stephen Flynn blaming it on “internal difficulties” while ex-MP Joanna Cherry pointed the finger at the previous leadership of Nicola Sturgeon and Ian Blackford.

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Elsewhere in his column, Smith said there was no credible roadmap to Scottish independence that the party produced and voters were given “no reason to stick with us”.

“Independence was indeed page one line one of the manifesto, but absent a credible roadmap to deliver it,” he wrote.

“We allowed Labour and Tory undemocratic unreasonableness to be our problem rather than theirs, and in any event we have not adequately linked the independence case to the cost of living crisis, which was the main driving factor other than regime change.

Alyn Smith claimed the SNP delivered no credible roadmap to independenceAlyn Smith claimed the SNP delivered no credible roadmap to independence

“People were telling us they were concerned about the cost of living and the state of the NHS and public services, we have simply not been talking their language.

“We also did not adequately defend the record of the Scottish Government from the scorched earth onslaught we have been subject to for years.

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“Too many people do not believe us when we tell them things are better in Scotland. They are unimpressed that we seem so unresponsive to their genuine criticism and concern.”

Smith said that beyond the party’s commitment to bring forward a bill to protect against privatisation of the NHS, the SNP’s campaign offered little in the way of policy.

He was also particularly critical of the way in which the Michael Matheson iPad scandal was dealt with by the SNP branding it “the defence of the indefensible”.

“You put on a brave face for the sake of the party and the cause, and for a few weeks I’m not going to do that anymore,” Smith added.

“We need to reflect deeply on why and how we regain trust.

“Losing third party status at Westminster is a good thing. It will free up our MPs from pointless busywork and covering events rather than driving our priorities. 

“We need an entirely new structure for our Westminster group and a new job spec for our MPs and I am glad Stephen Flynn has started that process.”