BLOGGER Stuart Campbell has insisted that a new Wings Over Scotland party would be a “positive option” for unhappy SNP supporters looking to make a protest vote.

But other Yes-backing campaigners warned that splitting the vote in an election shaping up to be all about indyref2 could reduce the chances of a pro-independence majority.

Campbell, who has been critical of the SNP Government’s controversial proposals to reform transgender self ID laws, unveiled plans for the new party over the weekend, in an interview with The Times.

“It’s conceivable that a Wings party might be able to pick up list seats that the pro-indy side otherwise might not,” he told the paper.

READ MORE: Wings Over Scotland founder plans to start new party

He added that the party would only come into being “if it looked like there wasn’t going to be a pro-independence majority, which I think is a very real danger”.

In a blog post over the weekend, Campbell said his party, which he stressed was “only a half-formed thought at the moment” was not about taking on the SNP.

“In 2016 the SNP got 954,000 list votes – the highest total ever recorded on the list by a mile, and almost exactly the same as the combined Labour and Tory tally of 960,000. But those votes got Nicola Sturgeon’s party just five list seats, while the same number secured a massive 45 list MSPs for Ruth Davidson and (at the time) Kezia Dugdale.

“So the SNP’s list vote is almost completely wasted, and if those votes went to another pro-independence party they could deliver a much better return in terms of securing a Yes majority at Holyrood.”

Campbell said the problem for voters who favour independence was that if they wanted to vote for anyone other than the SNP on the list, then they were left with what he described as “extreme radical fringe parties like RISE or the Greens”.

The National:

Speaking to the Herald on Sunday, veteran independence campaigner Jim Sillars (above), who has long been a vocal critic of the SNP leadership, was not enthusiastic about the proposal: “We have one instrument, the SNP, and the fact of the matter is that that is the instrument we need to get independence.”

But the SNP councillor Chris McEleny said Wings had helped “bring people closer to supporting independence”.

James Kelly, who runs the pro-independence poll analysis blog, Scot Goes Pop, told The National he was “puzzled” by Campbell’s fears about the state of the SNP and the danger of losing the pro-indy majority.

“That would have made much more sense last year or the year before, but at the moment the SNP are riding high in the polls and another pro-indy majority looks to be the most likely outcome in 2021.

“The big danger of a Wings party is that it won’t do well enough to win any list seats, but will still take enough list votes away from the SNP and the Greens to reduce the number of pro-indy list seats.”

READ MORE: Could by-election-winning Remain alliance work in Scotland?

Campbell said he thought Kelly’s analysis “a little off the mark, partly because the SNP have so few list seats to lose, but also because I think it fails to take account of the number of their own voters they’re currently alienating”.

He added: “Half a million people who voted SNP in 2015 walked away in 2017, and a lot of them simply stayed at home rather than voting for anyone else. I fear that could happen again, and it’s something that opinion polls don’t tend to show.

“In the run-up to the 2017 election they had the SNP on low-to-mid-40s, but the actual vote was less than 37% because people whose natural inclination was SNP just didn’t bother turning out, presumably because around a third of them voted Leave and they couldn’t get behind the party’s EU-focused campaign.

“As things currently stand I think a similar thing might happen next time for a variety of reasons, and the list vote is particularly vulnerable because unhappy SNP voters will feel it’s a safe way to ‘protest’, as they only have four list MSPs. I’d rather give them a more positive option.”