NICOLA Sturgeon has accused Alex Salmond of being “almost contemptuous” of key undecided voters as she again ruled out working with him.
The First Minister said those advocating an independence supermajority “sound as if they think we can just bulldoze our way to independence”.
She also said she has concerns about Mr Salmond’s previous conduct “which he hasn’t acknowledged or apologised for”.
Ms Sturgeon made the comments during an interview on Sophy Ridge on Sunday on Sky News.
She said: “We need a simple majority in the Scottish Parliament to give us the mandate for an independence referendum, and then of course we need a majority of the Scottish people to win independence.
“And when I listen to people who talk about supermajorities they sound as if they think we can just bulldoze our way to independence, which is almost contemptuous towards those that we need to persuade.”
She added: “I listen to the rhetoric around independence and it seems to skip over the need to do the hard work of persuading those who voted No in 2014, many of whom are now open-minded, I know many of these people, but want to be persuaded and want to be treated with respect and want us to make a convincing, persuasive case to them.
“That’s the hard work that I’ve been doing.
“Polling for independence is at a higher level now than it has ever been, but we’ve got to continue with that hard work, with that respectful discourse, and that is how we win independence.
“I’m not particularly interested in an arm-wrestling contest with other people about who supports independence the most. That’s a conversation with ourselves.
“I’m interested in persuading those who are open-minded but need still to be persuaded, so that we build a majority for independence that then expresses itself in a legitimate process, because that is how we win independence and that’s what I want to do.”
She ruled out working with Mr Salmond if Alba wins seats, adding: “Firstly I’ve got concerns about his personal conduct which he hasn’t acknowledged or apologised for.
“As I’ve just said, I don’t agree with the approach to independence because I think it is risking putting people off, rather than bringing people towards us.
“There’s no short-cut to independence, we’ve got to do it through winning a majority and allowing that majority to express itself in a legitimate process.
“I also don’t know what Alba stands for. For me independence is not an end in itself, it’s a means to a better Scotland – a fair, equal Scotland where we value everybody who lives here for who they are.
“I don’t know what Alba stands for, but from what I’ve seen so far, I probably would have some concerns about that.”
Scottish Liberal Democrat campaign chair Alistair Carmichael said: “If working with Alex Salmond were the only barrier to an independent Scotland you can bet Nicola Sturgeon would be his bosom buddy once again before you knew it.
“Nicola Sturgeon spent years urging the public to put Alex Salmond in charge of an independent Scotland, long after the average Scot had a good grasp of what kind of man he was.
“Rather than a nationalist government bickering among themselves over a timeline for independence, we need a government that will put the recovery first.”