Alex Salmond has declared that his new political party is already a success because he had forced Nicola Sturgeon to make Scottish independence a dominant election issue.
The former First Minister said that had it not been for him, nobody would be talking about Scotland leaving the UK and took a series of thinly-veiled swipes at his predecessor for not pursuing secession urgently enough.
He also suggested that his Alba Party would see its support surge in future if it wins seats but pro-independence voters decide the SNP has not done enough to deliver on its founding mission.
Ms Sturgeon has twice failed in attempts to hold a new referendum and sections of the independence movement have questioned her ability to deliver a new Scottish state.
However, Mr Salmond’s party has so far struggled to attract support, with polls showing he is deeply unpopular with voters and faces a battle to win election.
Mr Salmond's comments were broadcast on the same day that a new poll put support for Alba at just two per cent - suggesting it will not win a single seat.
“In a sense Alba’s already been successful because we’ve injected independence into this election debate,” Mr Salmond told Roddy MacLeod, a pro-independence blogger.
“If we hadn’t arrived on the scene 10 days ago, then that stupefyingly boring election debate on the BBC last week would be par for the course.”
He attacked Lorna Slater, co-convenor of the Scottish Greens, which Alba is fighting with for list votes, for failing to mention independence during the first televised debate and suggested she was "frightened of the word".
He added: “It wouldn’t just be the Green lady who wasn’t discussing independence or uttering the ‘i word’, nobody would – why would they?
“It wouldn’t even rate as a serious issue. There might be a debate about the timing of a referendum, but a referendum isn’t independence.
“I suspect if Alba gets into the parliament, then our impact will be not just in the Alba MSPs elected, but the very very certain knowledge that unless the independence case is progressed as it should be with the urgency it requires, then these numbers whatever they may be, will be multiplied many times over when people next go into the polling stations.”
Meanwhile, Jim Sillars, the former SNP deputy leader and an outspoken critic of Ms Sturgeon, on Thursday became the latest nationalist to declare his support for Alba.
He claimed that the two-week old party would be able to “muster a cabinet with a great deal more ability and gravitas” that Ms Sturgeon could from her SNP MSPs.
The Scottish Greens took issue with Mr Salmond’s reference to their co-leader as ‘the Green lady'.
A spokesman said: “This is desperate stuff from the Alba man and he knows it. It is no wonder that more people are supporting our vision of a fairer, greener and independent Scotland and are ignoring his increasingly erratic and discredited campaign."