An influential SNP MP has accused parties which “claim to support independence” of a “profoundly disingenuous” campaign to split the SNP vote which will maximise unionist voices in Holyrood.
Mhairi Black said calls for nationalists to give their regional list vote to another pro-independence party are “in some cases a wilful attempt to mislead people as to how that system works”.
The SNP has repeatedly warned nationalists not to put the SNP’s majority at risk by giving their second vote to another party, with the Greens in particular enjoying a post-referendum surge.
Former SNP deputy leader Jim Sillars has pledged to give his list vote to fledgling party Rise, insisting it offers “unambiguous” support for independence in contrast to the SNP’s failed “soft sell”.
Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson said the SNP won’t have a mandate to hold another referendum in the next parliament as it is not in its manifesto.
Ms Black, who Nicola Sturgeon has tipped as a future SNP leader, said voting for another party “is not the smart thing to do” and will play into unionist hands.
Writing in the Sunday Herald, she said: “Those who back independence should – so goes the line – just take a punt and give that second vote to a party other than the SNP which claims to support independence, thus, supposedly, maximising the pro-independence strength in parliament.
“All of that is wrong, misguided and – in some cases – profoundly disingenuous.”
The list vote was crucial in delivering the SNP’s majority in 2011 and it can only be protected by voting SNP on both ballots, she said.
Treating the list vote as a second preference “reflects a profound misunderstanding of the Scottish Parliament electoral system, or perhaps in some cases a wilful attempt to mislead people as to how that system works”.
“For those who support independence, giving one of your votes to a party other than the SNP is not the smart thing to do,” she said.
“It could actually just help maximise the anti-independence voices in parliament, and it may be the very thing that some unionists are hoping for.”
Speaking on the Sky News Murnaghan programme, Ms Davidson said: “There is no mandate for a second referendum. It’s not in their manifesto.
“The SNP manifesto, in essence, says that Nicola Sturgeon reserves the right to call another independence referendum as soon as she thinks she can win one.
“I’m sorry but constitutional politics doesn’t work like that and I, for one, will be standing in her way.”
Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie told Murnaghan: “God, this is depressing, isn’t it.
“We had one of the biggest democratic experiences in our lifetime with a massive turnout, and people said very clearly that we want to stay in the UK.
“The SNP seem to be stuck in the past, reliving the argument over independence over and over again. Let’s just move on.”