WINGS Over Scotland author Stuart Campbell appeared on BBC Radio Scotland's Good Morning Scotland to discuss plans for a pro-independence "Wings" party that could stand in the 2021 Holyrood election.

The plan would see party stand only for list MSP seats, aiming to secure a pro-independence majority by capitalising on Holyrood's system of proportional representation.

The SNP have suggested the move is unnecessary with the Scottish Government planning to hold a second independence before 2021, and others have said it risks splitting the vote.

Presenter Gary Robertson put those questions to Campbell, as well as asking him about other plans for the party.

You can read our full transcript of the segment below.


Gary Robertson: “The Union is sleepwalking into oblivion”, that was the warning from the former prime minister Gordon Brown yesterday, firing both barrels at Boris Johnson, arguing his pursuit of a No-Deal Brexit could bring about the end of the United Kingdom. By rights it should be music to the ears of the pro-independence lobby, so why then is one of the leading voices in that camp, the Wings Over Scotland blogger Stuart Campbell, contemplating launching a breakaway party that would field candidates at the next Holyrood election? Well let’s ask him, because Stuart Campbell joins us now from our studio in Bath. Good morning to you.

Stuart Campbell: Good morning, Gary. How are you doing?

Robertson: I’m good, thanks. What is your thinking here?

Campbell: Our thinking is something that’s been known for a long time, which is that the SNP’s votes on the regional list get badly wasted by the Holyrood electoral system. The SNP got about a million votes in 2016, which is about the same number that Labour and the Tories combined got, but the SNP got four list seats for that while Labour and the Tories got 45. If the SNP’s list votes went to another pro-independence party that could get a lot more seats and secure a pro-independence majority if that was needed.

Robertson: Don’t many people who vote SNP perhaps consider the Greens as a second alternative?

Campbell: Well no, not many do, no. The fact is that people simply don’t want to vote for far-left parties like the Greens or SSP or RISE. I think Wings has about twice as many readers as the highest ever vote the Greens have recorded in an election and many times more than the other small parties. I think people are uncomfortable with a lot of those parties’, let’s say radical policies, and I think they’d be prepared to vote for a pro-independence party that was a little more mainstream, and one that they’ve known for years.

Robertson: So what sort of policies would you espouse? Would it just be independence, or do you imagine you’d have a range of policies?

Campbell: I imagine we’d have positions on most things, but it’s far too early in the day to say what all of those would be now. The party is just a thought at the moment, we haven’t actually formed it, there’s no great plans being made.

Robertson: Have you been speaking to anybody in the SNP for instance? Are any current SNP politicians interested?

Campbell: We’ve had interest from all over the place – from activists, from people who are in the SNP, from people who aren’t involved in politics at all, even from people in the BBC.

Robertson: There’s been a suggestion that what might happen here if you do pursue this is that ultimately that pro-independence vote is split, but is that the case given the electoral system on offer at Holyrood?

Campbell: It’s very unlikely that that would be the case. The SNP only have four list seats at the moment. Current polling looks very much as though the SNP would sweep most of the constituency seats again, which would mean they would probably get even fewer list seats than the last time. I have to say, Gary, the BBC has been presenting this story for the last three days as me setting up a party to take on the SNP. It’s a very inaccurate description of the situation. The idea is to increase the number of pro-independence seats by taking them from the unionist parties, not by taking them from the SNP.

Robertson: But the SNP say that a party that you get behind wouldn’t help promote independence because they plan to hold the second independence referendum before the 2021 Holyrood election. Are you happy with the direction of travel that the SNP have been laying out, do you believe that we will see that referendum before the next election?

Campbell: I think anything is possible in politics at the moment Gary, but no, I don’t think it’s a great secret that I and a lot of other people are rather uncomfortable with the direction that the SNP is moving in at the moment. It seems to have become a stopping Brexit party rather than a gaining independence party. That’s something they haven’t got a mandate for, and it’s something that if they were to achieve it, it would nullify the mandate that they do have from the 2016 election to have a second independence referendum. However, if they do hold a referendum before 2021, then categorically the Wings party will not happen, that’s the whole point.

Robertson: Do you see this as perhaps holding the SNP’s feet to the fire in terms of making sure that that referendum you’d like to see actually happens?

Campbell: A little bit, yeah. I mean it’s just something to demonstrate to them the strength of people’s feelings and the fact that people aren’t terribly happy with their current direction.

Robertson: And if you did field candidates, would you yourself stand?

Campbell: I haven’t decided that yet. As I say, this whole thing’s just a thought at the moment, but I’d imagine it’s fairly likely.

Robertson: Thank you very much for speaking to us this morning.