Former first minister Alex Salmond has asked Alba Party members not to attack the SNP, in the same speech where he hit out at his former party.
The leader, who was confirmed in the post on the first day of the conference, closed the event by pitching his party as an alternative to the SNP and the Scottish Greens.
Mr Salmond’s party failed to win a single seat at the Holyrood elections this year, but he hopes for a good showing at next year’s local elections – telling the PA news agency on Saturday they could “galvanize the independence campaign”.
“The record of the SNP/Green coalition on education, health, the economy, local government is at its very kindest mediocre,” he told members.
“So is its record on the pandemic.
“When the immediate cloud of the pandemic lifts they shall be judged on that and probably harshly.
“We must not have independence judged with it.
“We do not want people turning back to the tired old unionist parties or worse still staying at home. There has to be an independence alternative.
“Make no mistake – Alba is now that alterative.”
The former first minister said no political force in the Celtic nations of Ireland, Wales and Scotland have ever had as much sway at a UK level, adding: “And what exactly have they done with all that trust, all that political influence? Nothing.
“They have settled down at Westminster instead of settling up for Scotland.
“The world of 2021 is not the world of 2001 or even 2014. Much has happened – Brext, Covid.
“Nicola Sturgeon said on Friday that Covid had made the financial case for independence more challenging.
“She is wrong – these great events, these world events, make the economic and social necessity of Scottish independence overwhelming.”
But in the same speech, Mr Salmond urged his supporters not to attack the SNP, claiming it would be “the most important thing I have to say to you today”.
“I want us to make that case, particularly online, by talking up ALBA not running down the SNP.”
In the first political party conference in Scotland to be held in person since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, Alba attracted several hundred members, including former Scottish Socialist Party leader and MSP Tommy Sheridan, who spoke in favour of a resolution backing the removal of Trident on the first day of Scottish independence.
Members also voted for resolution to abolish the monarchy – after the end of the Queen’s reign – in an independent country.