THE SNP Government has suffered a “loss in economic credibility” and Nicola Sturgeon needs to reshuffle her economic team to fix it, a former cabinet secretary has said.

Kenny MacAskill also criticised Nicola Sturgeon’s “ill-judged rush for a second referendum”, and said it had “cost the party dear”.

Writing for The Herald on the closing day of the SNP conference in Glasgow, Mr MacAskill said the party could not “will Scots to support independence” without a convincing case.

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READ MORE: Kenny MacAskill: People want a better Scotland now, not a promised land

It had yet to address “the fears that people have on currency, trade or the economy”.

Mr MacAskill, who quit the cabinet when Ms Sturgeon became First Minister in 2014, said the government had lost its economic shine since Alex Salmond was in charge and John Swinney was his Finance Secretary.

Without naming Finance Secretary Derek Mackay or Economy Secretary Keith Brown, he suggested one or both had to go, although there was a lack of talent at Holyrood.

He wrote: “The economy and infrastructure badly need to be refreshed. The Salmond/Swinney axis is gone and there’s been a consequent loss in economic credibility.

“That needs to be restored, though it won’t be easy, as individuals with standing are few in Parliament.

“More work on policy and engagement with the industry is badly required. The economy is fragile but was ever remains the key.”

READ MORE: Kenny MacAskill: People want a better Scotland now, not a promised land

On independence, he said: “The ill-judged rush for a second referendum cost the party dear and other than in extreme circumstances can’t happen until there’s greater clarity on Brexit.

“No matter what some activists think, the party can no more will Scots to support independence that the Tartan Army can wish the ball into the opposition net.

“The groundwork needs laid in constructing the platform of a competent Government and addressing the fears that people have on currency, trade or the economy.”

Arguing the SNP should focus on the day job of government while building the case for independence over the coming years, he said: “Action needs taken to engage and deliver, as it’s a better Scotland now not a promised land that’s wanted by most folk.

“It doesn’t mean forswearing independence, just a realisation that it won’t come about without a credible base.

“That also allows time for answers to questions upon which the last referendum fell, and haven’t yet been forthcoming. Talking about independence doesn’t deliver it, but a credible and competent government is a prerequisite for it.”

READ MORE: Kenny MacAskill: People want a better Scotland now, not a promised land

Tory economy spokesman Dean Lockhart said: “Derek Mackay and Keith Brown won’t thank their former ministerial colleague for this intervention, in which he highlights the SNP’s ‘loss of economic credibility’ and Scotland’s ‘fragile economy’.

“It seems the SNP’s famous iron discipline is beginning to wilt, to the point where senior nationalist figures are openly questioning the ability of two of Nicola Sturgeon’s most prominent ministers in charge of the economy.

“What’s needed is a change in the overall direction of economic policy, away from Scotland being the highest-taxed and lowest growth part of the UK under the SNP's decade of failure, towards a low-tax, high growth and high-wage economy to benefit everyone in Scotland.”