Former justice secretary Kenny MacAskill has called for “more governance” from Scottish ministers, arguing that “warm words are inadequate”.
Writing for the Sunday Times newspaper, Mr MacAskill warned Nicola Sturgeon not to take voters for granted, and learn lessons from Labour’s demise in Scotland.
The First Minister campaigns relentlessly but more governance by her ministers might be better.Kenny MacAskill
The SNP remains buoyant in the polls as it gears up for its spring conference in Aberdeen while Labour - once the dominant force north of the border - has shrunk to third party status at Holyrood.
But Mr MacAskill, who was axed during Ms Sturgeon’s first Cabinet reshuffle in 2014, and stood down as an MSP in 2016, said there are still “underlying issues” for the SNP.
He said in some areas, such as fracking and social security powers, there had been “lots of talk, but less action”.
“That’s proven inadequate for most mainstream European social democratic parties. The housing schemes cannot be taken for granted, as Labour found to its cost,” he wrote.
“Moreover, the criticism of Labour about a plethora of consultations and reviews, is in danger of being replicated. It is action not rhetoric that’s needed in critical areas.
“For example, how many discussions or debates does it take to make your mind up on fracking? Moreover, a plan to make social security a human right is worthy but for the poor and dispossessed it is action now that is wanted.
“Money is tight but warm words are inadequate.
“The First Minister campaigns relentlessly but more governance by her ministers might be better. It is not just about power per se, but power for a purpose.
“Hard choices need to be made and vested interests challenged. Yet retaining broad-based support engenders fear of necessary radical steps.”
Opposition parties have often accused Ms Sturgeon of inaction on domestic issues, stating that she prefers to campaign for independence.
Scottish Labour business manager James Kelly said: “Kenny MacAskill has told the truth about the SNP in government, which has been more focused on opinion polls than helping the poorest.
“As Nicola Sturgeon continues to threaten a divisive second independence referendum, a former Cabinet Secretary has skewered her record in government. She should take these words to heart.”
Scottish Conservative chief whip John Lamont said: “Kenny MacAskill is absolutely right to criticise the First Minister and her current SNP government.
“She has completely shunned key issues like education, health and justice in her desperate pursuit of another independence referendum.
“That’s a shameful approach, and one that the SNP will not get away with for much longer.”
An SNP spokeswoman said: “The SNP Government has proven that a competent, focused progressive government can continue to deliver these vital services, even in the face of the ideologically driven austerity of Westminster.
“From free medicine to free education, when it comes to public services, households in Scotland get the best deal anywhere in the UK. This Scottish Social Contract was a central plank of the manifesto in which the SNP Government was re-elected just last year.
“The evidence for its success can been seen in the record number of poorer students now in our universities, the best A&E performance in the UK, and the thousands of families with children who have been sheltered from the infamous Tory Bedroom Tax.”