A FORMER MSP is set to quit the SNP after 55 years to set up a new pro-independence party ahead of next year’s Holyrood election.

Dave Thompson’s announcement comes amid a row over the Holyrood voting system and the most effective way to use it to deliver a pro-independence majority at the Scottish Parliament election.

Thompson was an MSP between 2007 and 2016.

Now, the Daily Record reports he will launch his party Alliance for Independence (AFI) which will carry the slogan “max the Yes”. He predicts the party could win up to 24 seats.

Polls show the SNP may be gearing up to win big in Holyrood’s first past the post vote, but on the regional lists they may only pick up a handful of seats.

READ MORE: John Swinney rejects tactical Yes vote call ahead of election

Last week SNP MP Kenny MacAskill sparked a fresh row over the matter when he wrote a column calling for Scots not to give their regional list vote to his party in 2021. 

Thompson told the Record that he is on the steering group of AFI, which will allow small pro-independence parties, organisations and individuals to unite and contest the regional list seats.

He told the newspaper: “Every regional list vote for the SNP will have no impact. It will achieve nothing. Whereas if a lot of these votes came to AFI we can garner a lot of MSPs.

“We are looking at anything between eight and 24 MSPs.”

He said AFI members would support the SNP in the first-past-the-post seats, and would only be expected to support independence. “On everything else they can vote according to their own party programme, or according to their own views and conscience,” he explained.

Thompson added independence is more important than party and argues this is the tactical way to gain more Yes-supporting seats.

Asked if he would back former first minister Alex Salmond joining the party he said: “We would welcome anyone and certainly high-profile people would be good.”

An SNP spokesman said: “Talk of splitting the SNP vote will be music to the ears of the Unionists. Those seeking to game the Holyrood proportional electoral system are putting at risk the SNP’s progress.”