Scotland's former first minister has called on Nicola Sturgeon to adopt a major housebuilding, energy and health plan to stop an economic crisis.

Alex Salmond made the unexpected step into frontline politics in a joint manifesto with former SNP minister Alex Neil.

The pair looked at the immediate challenge in the covid pandemic and set out their aims to rebuild the country after the health crisis.

Their blueprint includes policies once championed by Salmond in government, some already being looked at and long-term visions for economic growth.

Salmond said it was an attempt to help the "Scottish effort" but it was branded by Tories as a distracting attempt to settle scores with Sturgeon.

Nicola Sturgeon and Alex Salmond when they were in government together

In their report, the veteran Nationalists said the first step is to minimise economic damage with mass testing, tackling "super-spreaders" and "expanding the programme for distributing vitamin D supplements" to groups vulnerable to catching Covid-19.

A scheme in England already aims to give three million people free vitamin D supplements this winter.

Claims have been made about the benefits but research is still being carried out.

Among the wider policy suggestions, the focus is on construction.

Salmond and Neil want an arm's length National Housebuilding Company to erect an extra 50,000 houses in five years.

They also want:

In their report, the pair claim: "The immediate priority is to save as many existing businesses and jobs as possible until the pandemic is under control. That will be when there is large-scale, safe and effective vaccination of the vast majority of the population coupled with the availability of new, safe and effective anti-viral drugs.

"Until that can be done, our strategy should be to learn the lessons from numerous countries in Asia, which have successfully brought the virus under control by means which are far less damaging to their economies than wide-scale lockdowns and business closures, and has also resulted in fewer deaths from covid-19."

Looking ahead, they add: "Innovation in politics and economics is often driven by necessity and creates change and opportunity. The way out of crisis is to first generate and then seize these opportunities. This paper is our contribution to that Scottish effort."

Scottish Conservative economy spokesman Maurice Golden said: "The SNP civil war between the Salmond and Sturgeon camps has become visceral but is of little interest to the people of Scotland as they deal with the devastation wrought by Covid.

"While the former First Minister is entitled to his opinion, it is inappropriate to use the pandemic to settles scores with his former friend and protege in Bute House."

The Scottish Government has been approached for comment.