THE deputy first minister has rejected SNP MP Kenny MacAskill’s call for people not to give their regional list section vote to the party at next year’s Holyrood election.

Speaking to the BBC’s Good Morning Scotland programme today, John Swinney hit out at SNP colleagues who are urging Scots to consider backing another independence party in the list vote.

In a Scotsman column this week former justice secretary MacAskill said “both Votes SNP just doesn’t work” – and gave his support to the idea of a “specific ‘independence’ option” on the list.

His comments came after a poll, carried out for the Wings Over Scotland website, found 26% of Scottish voters would definitely or probably give their list vote to a pro-independence party led by former first minister Alex Salmond.

READ MORE: Kenny MacAskill urges Scots to consider voting against SNP

The column sparked a row among Yes supporters over the most effective way to deliver a pro-indy majority at next year’s election.

The presenter on GMS told Swinney that he was aware he would say politics is on hold during the pandemic but with the election coming up in less than a year now, he asked what the deputy FM made of MacAskill’s calls.

Swinney replied: “I didn’t agree with it. I come from a very simple point of view that if you’re a member of the Scottish National Party you should argue and urge people to vote for the Scottish National Party.”

The host then asked if that was the case even if voting for a list party rather than the SNP would deliver more pro-independence MSPs, or allow for a pro-independence majority to be achieved.

Recent polling has indicated the SNP will be able to make up a majority without support from other parties at next year’s election.

Swinney responded: “No, I can’t understand the logic of it. Because in 2011 I was part of a ministerial team including Kenny MacAskill that successfully put a message to the people of Scotland under the current system that resulted in an overall majority for the Scottish National Party in the 2011 elections.

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Kenny MacAskill served in a ministerial team with John Swinney

“And as a consequence we secured a referendum on independence. And that seems to me to be the reliable and substantial way to deliver Scottish independence and that’s the reliable way, to get the SNP to argue for people to vote for it.”

Addressing two polls putting support for independence at 54% in recent weeks, the host referred to comments made by former MP and National columnist George Kerevan that the SNP leadership is not focused on achieving independence for Scotland.

Swinney rejected that and insisted he has spent “every moment” of his adult life working towards self-determination.

He told the programme: “I joined the SNP when I was 15, I’m now 56. All my adult life has been focused on winning Scottish independence. So that’s what I’m about it and it’s what my colleagues are about.

“I find some of these comments really a bit odd when I look at the opinion polls that have been showing demonstrable majority support for independence for some considerable time. And also polls at the weekend that showed support for the Scottish National Party to be at its highest level ever, over 50% of the vote. Now at that moment when the SNP’s support is so strong, we have this majority support for Scottish independence, I think everybody in the SNP should be very confident about the effectiveness, the empathy, the quality, the strength of our leadership and our message, and we should just get behind it and make sure that we’re successful in the elections next May and we can deliver Scottish independence.”

Asked whether SNP figures calling for Scots to support other parties in the list vote should be reprimanded, Swinney did not say.

Instead, he told GMS: “I’m just interested in focusing on making sure the SNP is successful in all that we do. What we’re focused on just now in the SNP Government is making sure the country is stewarded through the difficulties of Covid. That is utterly preoccupying my time and my energy and that of the First Minister just now. And that’s what the public can expect of us. There will come a moment for electoral politics.”

He stressed ahead of next year’s election he will argue “very strongly” that people should give their constituency and list votes to the SNP.