TOMMY Sheppard has called on the Scottish Greens not to stand candidates in seats the Tories could take at the General Election. The SNP MP for Edinburgh East, who was a key figure in the Yes campaign in 2014, urged branches not to fight constituencies where they may risk splitting the pro-independence vote.

“I know the Greens will want to stand some candidates but I also know they have never stood everywhere. So they are going to have to choose,” he said.

“They will want to stand some candidates as they are a national party and will want to put their case to their base, but in deciding which seats to contest and not to contest I think they should be mindful of not splitting the pro-Yes vote and certainly not splitting the anti-Tory vote.”

Last week, Scottish Greens co-convener Maggie Chapman said her party may not fight some marginal seats – including Scottish Secretary David Mundell’s Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale and neighbouring Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk, where the SNP’s Calum Kerr beat the Tories’ John Lamont by just 328 votes two years ago and where the Greens lost their deposits.

“This is from my own personal position but I would be quite happy for us to support non-Green candidates if it meant getting Tories out of Scotland and making sure we had elected representatives who walk the walk of the politics of the new Scotland we want to see,” she told The National.

“I think what we need to do is use this as an opportunity to talk about the kind of Scotland we want to see, the kind of politics we want to see, and I’m hopeful we can agree to say let’s back the candidates who offer those kinds of views and that kind of outlook for Scotland. I don’t see us standing in seats in areas where we lost deposits last time.”

Sheppard spoke out after polls last weekend forecast the Tories could take between 28 to 33 per cent of the vote – delivering them up to 12 seats – their best performance in Scotland since the 1970s.

“I welcome Maggie Chapman’s comments as a mature political intervention,” Sheppard said and added he did not believe the Scottish Greens should stand in Edinburgh South – where Labour’s only MP in Scotland, Ian Murray, is fighting to regain his seat. I think it is going to be a close contest in Edinburgh South. Ian Murray will be hopeful of Conservative voters voting tactically for him, but to be honest there will also be some Conservative supporters who fancy their chances there and with their tails up Edinburgh South could be a three way marginal between the SNP, Labour and the Tories,” he said.

“It’s not a four way marginal with the Greens, it’s a three way marginal and in those circumstances I don’t think the Greens should be targeting that sort of seat.”

The Scottish Greens have insisted it will set a strategy for the UK election over the coming weeks, and it will be for local branches to decide how to implement it.

“The Scottish Greens have always been a democratic party where the members make decisions, and local branches are responsible for choosing which constituencies to contest,” a Scottish Greens spokesman said last week following Chapman’s comments.

“Whatever our local branches decide, as a party we will support them. They will no doubt be aware of the desire to stop Tory MPs, but right now we are focused on winning more Green councillors.”

The Scottish Greens are expected to decide on General Election candidates and which constituencies to stand in after the local elections.