KENNY MacAskill has urged Scots to consider voting against the SNP at next year’s Holyrood election.  

Writing in the Scotsman, the SNP MP East Lothian, backed the idea of a pro-independence party, saying that “both Votes SNP just doesn't work."

He added: "The focus of the election is almost certainly going to be on the constitution. What better way of allowing Scottish voters a choice than a specific 'independence' option on the list."

MacAskill, who served as justice secretary in Alex Salmond's government, said having such a party on the regional list section will provide voters with greater choice.

His comments come after a poll for the pro-independence Wings Over Scotland website found 26% of Scottish voters would either definitely or probably give their list vote to a party led by Salmond.

MacAkill said this electoral system used for the Holyrood election “was itself designed to stop an SNP majority.”

He added: “That may have failed spectacularly but it was the cunning plan of its Westminster designers. That’s gross hypocrisy, nevermind that it was also considered by some in Labour, who floated the idea of running Co-operative Party candidates on the list.

“So, when Boris Johnson and his cohorts deny Scotland the right to hold a referendum, despite electoral mandates aplenty, why play by the rules of a rigged system?

“With success on the constituency basis resulting in limited progress on the list, ‘Both Votes SNP’ just doesn’t work.”

He said that SNP’s opponents would be “running largely on the Union”. 

MacAskill continued; “But if a referendum is denied by Westminster intransigence, then this is a way to achieve it. People can vote for their preferred candidate for Government on the constituency ballot, but for their constitutional choice on the list.

“This election is critical given where Boris Johnson is taking us all. It’s time the SNP discussed all options, not just the one that fails to deliver either seats or a referendum.”

Labour’s shadow Scottish secretary Ian Murray said MacAskill's backing for a separate pro-independence party was "clearly a direct challenge to Nicola Sturgeon's authority from a sitting MP".

He added: "What's most telling is that Mr MacAskill and his supporters want to make next year's election all about constitutional division.

"When you scratch under the surface it's always about independence for the SNP, when it should be about the NHS and jobs. The priority should be economic recovery and protecting our health service, not dividing the people of Scotland once again."

The SNP has been approached for comment.

It's not clear if asking voters to vote against  the SNP could be a disciplinary matter.

While the party's code of conduct says that no member can also be a member of "any organisation contesting elections in opposition to the party" it doesn't say if encouraging voters to vote for that party would be in breach of internal rules. 

Though the code of conduct makes clear "every member owes a duty to the Party to refrain from conduct likely to cause damage to or hinder the Party's proper pursuit of its aims in accordance with its constitutionally laid down policy and direction."