JIM Sillars has urged Nicola Sturgeon to work with the new Alliance for Independence party at next year’s Holyrood election.

The former SNP depute leader also accused the First Minister of leaving the Scottish independence movement "stranded" and warned it is at risk of splintering.

With the Alliance for Independence party being set up in a bid to win regional list seats in the 2021 election, Sillars called on the SNP leader to consider the role such a group could play.

The veteran politician said Sturgeon should "exercise some wisdom" and consider the situation from the perspective of the broader independence movement, not a party political stance.

He made the plea after it emerged former SNP MSP Dave Thompson is to quit the party for the Alliance for Independence – which will reportedly run under the slogan "Max the Yes" in May's ballot.

READ MORE: Dave Thompson defends new Alliance for Independence party

In a letter published in The Herald newspaper, Sillars argued Sturgeon has "led the independence movement up the political hill and left it stranded there", and now faces the "possible consequences of it splintering as it comes down it".

He added: "She now has to exercise some wisdom, take off the party hat and put on the movement one."

Sillars, who was SNP depute leader between 1991 and 1992, insisted the "strategic objective" in the Holyrood ballot should be to "amass an overwhelming majority of MSPs committed beyond all doubt to claiming a mandate for another referendum, a mandate the size of which any UK Government would find difficult to refuse".

The former Labour MP, who joined the SNP before famously winning the Glasgow Govan seat from his old party in a by-election in 1988, argued there is a "logic in the case for the SNP not standing on the list". This is because constituency victories could "waste those votes", he said.

The National: Jim Sillars celebrates his victory in 1988Jim Sillars celebrates his victory in 1988

Sillars urged those in the SNP who have spoken out against the prospect of a new party to "think again", saying: "The SNP has been successful in creating an independence movement which has many activists and voters who do not align themselves with its social and economic policies.

"Their views cannot be dismissed in favour of a narrow party interest. I would urge the SNP leader to think again on the role this new Alliance for Independence group can play towards the necessary mandate.

"The tragedy will be if Ms Sturgeon does not realise that those who form the Alliance have as much right to contribute to strategy and tactics as she. The sensible thing now would be to talk to them."

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

Last week, John Swinney said he “can’t understand the logic” of demands for Yessers to vote for a party other than the SNP on the list section of next year’s ballot.

The deputy first minister explained: “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.”