Alex Salmond has defended an election advert for his pro-independence Alba party after it was ridiculed as “pathetic”, “embarrassing” and “cringeworthy”.

The video features a voiceover by actor Angus MacFadyen, who played Robert the Bruce in the 1995 movie Braveheart, comparing the medieval battle at Bannockburn to the current push for independence.

Referring to Scots’ victory at Bannockburn in 1314, the actor says it was “the sma [small] folk of Scotland” who helped “break the spine of English superiority” – claiming Alba would “unite the clans” for the cause.

SNP MP Pete Wishart tweeted: “Geez! We’re trying to win our independence through presenting ourselves as a progressive, modern and outward looking nation. But let’s take up the rusty claymores and shout ‘freeeedom’. Embarrassing.”

Responding to criticisms of the advert, Mr Salmond said Scotland’s football and rugby fans “views Scotland’s victory at Bannockburn as a source of national pride”.

He added: “These attacks from our opponents on our campaign video show scant regard for the history of Scotland. People who decry a nation’s history will never address a nation’s future.”

The former SNP leader also compared some of those advocating for Scotland to remain part of the UK to those cheering on the English crown in the 14th century.

“If ‘Scotland in the Union’ had been around in the early fourteenth century they would have been advocating victory for the Plantagenets,” said Mr Salmond in his statement.

Pamela Nash, chief executive of pro-union group Scotland Union, said she thought the video was a spoof at first, before the “pathetic” reality became clear.

“The nationalist mask has slipped; Salmond is making it clear that for him and his colleagues this election is a battle between Scotland and England,” she said.

Ms Nash added: “Their campaign is 700 years out of date. They talk of uniting Scots against ‘English suppressors’ which voters will find pathetic and divisive.”

The actor who took part in the video claimed the Bannockburn comparison was “ever so slightly tongue in cheek, but still makes a very serious point” about the Holyrood election.

“It is the “sma folk” or people power who hold the key to Scotland’s future. That was fact in 1314. It is true in 2021,” said Mr MacFadyen, backing Alba next month.

On Monday Mr Salmond claimed the SNP are showing a “lack of urgency” over Scottish independence.

He claimed Nicola Sturgeon had caused “total consternation” in the movement by saying she wanted indyref2 before the end of 2023.

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