The National:

YOU might idly wonder, and I do, why someone – apparently out of a bright blue sky – decided to run a poll asking a number of questions about a possible new list-only party led by former First Minister Alex Salmond.

According to the Wings Over Scotland website, who commissioned it from Panelbase, it was in response to reported sightings of a non-existent poll by Survation. Since that one was a hoax, mused Wings, why not pose the same question for real?

There are some obvious answers to that one – not least the impulse to make mischief; one which Wings Over Scotland has always found irresistible. Whatever the motivation, it once again raises the issue of how best to utilise the list system to maximise pro-indy votes at the next Holyrood election.

Even without this newly floated proposition, the field was getting a mite crowded. The Independence for Scotland party is up and running, the Greens have a popular though not yet critical following, and the two small independent socialist parties are still in that fray.

Meanwhile, we await the formal launch of Alliance, a move to persuade all parties after the same goal to fly under the one banner, as they put it, to “Max the Yes”. That latter proposition is not at all unattractive, though the logistics might make the herding of cats seem a bit of a doddle.

The Wings blog made it plain that this was a solo venture with the former FM not consulted. I have good reason to believe that is the case, but no more clue than anyone else what is in Mr Salmond’s mind right now. My northern spies tell me they see a lot less of him these days due to a new running regime. Whether he has plans to run for Parliament again as well I know not.

READ MORE: Nearly half of Yes voters would consider backing Alex Salmond party

What I do know is that this is not a moment for the Yes camp to splinter into so many different list parties that the impact is minimised. Neither is it the time – not should it ever be – for the SNP to get involved in contrived civil wars between Salmondites and Sturgeonistas.

Nobody with a real interest in ensuring Scottish independence should play that game in public or private. The upcoming parliamentary inquiry into events preceding the Salmond trial should not be used to give succour to plotters of any hue. There is a bigger game in town requiring razor-like focus.

For myself, I find it difficult to envisage a scenario where there is room in the Holyrood chamber for what would effectively be two First Ministers; the reigning queen and the king over the water. I can, however, see the argument for a chamber where the main party is not being chivvied by a bunch of self-serving Unionists, but needled by those anxious to inject some real urgency into their indy strategy.

For we find ourselves, strangely, at a moment of maximum opportunity and maximum danger. The first because the polling figures are all going in the right direction, helped to no little extent by the Westminster administration being exposed as the third rate chancers they currently are. Better together? You’re having a laugh.

And the second because that same shoddy crew have set their sights not just on blocking a second referendum, but dismantling even those powers Holyrood can currently deploy.

A game plan to get a parliament then incrementally increase its firepower, has become an existential battle to save it from being fatally neutered.

Time is short. The dangers are great. The constitutional status quo is not a credible option.

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