THE former SNP MSP at the heart of the new Alliance For Independence (AFI) has defended his new party against accusations he’s putting indyref2 at risk.

Dave Thompson told The National he believed the new movement could help create a “supermajority” in Holyrood at the expense of the Tories, Labour and the Lib Dems.

He also explained that AFI candidates would be a mixture of independent independence supporters and members drawn from the small parties who sign up to the alliance.

The ballot paper will simply read Alliance For Independence – Max The Yes.

Anyone elected would, in effect, be unwhipped and allowed to vote with their conscience on all issues apart from independence.

READ MORE: Ex SNP MSP to quit and form new pro-independence party

The AFI is due to launch formally at some point in the next ten days, and will have a conference in September to elect office bearers.

The group’s national executive will be made up of two voting delegates from each of the eight regions, the seven office bearers, and two voting delegates from any other party that comes on board.

Thompson told The National he’d had "tentative" discussions with other parties and was keen for them to get involved. He said: “We’re not dictating to anybody, we’re not telling folks, ‘this is our party, you must come and join us’. We’re saying join the alliance, and create this party with us. Get involved, get a voting delegate place, come to the conference, and influence how we operate.”

He added: “That wouldn’t change, of course, our basic set up which is that we only have one strong policy, that is independence and keeping the indy government in power to deliver independence.

“And on everything else, small parties that join us and stand under our umbrella, they can run with the rest of their programmes to their heart’s content. And individuals who we will select in the regions as well – small parties won’t get all the places obviously, they’ll just get a number of them – we’ll be selecting a lot of individuals, and they will, as long as they back independence and the local regional group’s happy with them and their programme, they can follow their own conscience and their own programmes.

READ MORE: John Curtice: AFI risks 'destroying unity of nationalist movement'

“So, if you imagine a parliament, with a number of small indy parties getting in through the Alliance but also with maybe I don’t know 16 or 20 Margo McDonalds all being champions of their own regions and issues that are close to their own hearts.”

Asked if AFI would take a stance on some of the big issues which could face MSPs in the next term, including possibly, plans to reform the Gender Recognition Act, Thompson said it would be up to elected members to decide how they vote.

He said: “That’s the beauty of not deciding policy issues in relation to these matters because if we get a number of folk elected into the parliament, and if some of them are pro abortion, some are against abortion, some are pro-GRA and some are against GRA, that’s fine.

“As far as we’re concerned that’ll lend itself to healthy debate in the parliament.”

Thomson’s announcement yesterday was criticised by some of his former colleagues.

Michael Russell told the BBC: “I know Dave very well, I’ve worked very well with him.

“I think he’s mistaken in his analysis. I believe that in order to get independence we need a unified movement.

“The SNP is the key part, or a key part, of that movement. I’ve been a member of the SNP now for 40 years and I’m certainly not changing my view.”

But Thompson said that if “one person in four out of the million that voted SNP in 2016” backed the AFI, they’d get 16 seats.

“The votes of these folk, these independence supporter those who desperately want independence, will be of no use, they’ll be wasted if they’re used to support the SNP on the list.”

He said every seat taken by the AFI would dislodge a unionist.

Thompson was coy on who else was involved in the alliance. he said they’d had “tentative expressions of interest from a couple of smaller parties”

Asked if Tommy Sheridan’s Solidarity would be welcome in the alliance – given the opposition to him from other parties – Thomson said they would be “just as welcome, as the SSP as the Independence for Scotland Party, and as the Greens.”

He said AFI would be an “umbrella” for the “Yes family”.