JOHN Swinney must step aside as SNP leader to make way for a “fresh start” under Kate Forbes and Stephen Flynn, a former MP has said.

Douglas Chapman, who stood down as Dunfermline and West Fife MP at the General Election on July 4, confessed there had been “shortcomings” from his party’s leadership in recent years.

It is the latest attack on former leadership after Nicola Sturgeon was branded “Stalin’s wee sister” by former SNP deputy leader Jim Sillars in an open letter to party members.

The SNP suffered a significant defeat at the July 4 vote, winning just nine seats, a loss of 39 on the 48 won in 2019.

(Image: House of Commons)

Chapman (above) told the Herald: “I believe we really do need that fresh start, that fresh impetus, and we need to look to our members to provide that and to be brutally honest with the leadership of the party about what they think has gone wrong and what they think the solutions might be.

“We are all well aware of the shortcomings that we’ve had in recent years and that’s everything from the quality of delivery of services, the Scottish Government, and making sure that is reset and focused on, making sure we can get back to a situation where the people of Scotland actually trust us as their government.”

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He also took aim at the party’s independence strategy which put the issues on “line one page one” of the manifesto but failed to mention it enough during campaigning.

When asked if Swinney should remain as SNP leader, Chapman said: “I know he has not been in the post very long, but I think it’s time to really clear the decks and use the next 700 days to make sure there is a pro-independence government in Holyrood come 2026.”

He went on to say: “My own feeling is we need a completely fresh start and that points to a new leadership team with the attitude of putting independence at the forefront.

“The two frontrunners would be Kate Forbes and Stephen Flynn. They proved themselves over the campaign that they are articulate communicators. I think it would be a good combination with their presence both at Holyrood and Westminster.”