ONE of Scotland’s best-known independence campaigners has joined a new umbrella group as he eyes a regional list seat in Mid Scotland and Fife at next year’s Holyrood election.

Martin Keatings, convener of Forward as One and campaigner for disability rights and carers, announced the move as he formally declared he had joined Action for Independence (AFI).

Keatings, who is also leading legal action on the need for a Section 30 order for indyref2, had previously stated he did not want to be “restrained” by standing under a political party. But he now wants to sweep up the 120,000 Yes-supporting list votes he claims are “going to waste” in the area as a result of the SNP gaining so many constituency seats, leading to none for the party in the regional list.

He said AFI’s Max the Yes strategy is the way to win the regional list seats and will seek nomination for candidacy in Mid Scotland and Fife when the process opens later this year. Keatings said: “We stand at a crossroads in terms of Scotland’s fate: a choice between a hard Tory Brexit and all of the destructive policies that will soon follow from Westminster or the chance to define our own future. I have fiercely defended my status as an independent because it has given me the flexibility and the latitude to give praise and constructive criticism in equal measure.

“However, now is not the time to be complacent and I need to fully acknowledge that if I stand on the regional ballot as an independent and am elected, any votes which are cast for me over and above the threshold that would see me elected, would go to waste.”

He added: “We must marshal all of our resources as a movement to ensure that Scotland becomes an independent nation,” he said.

“It is for this reason and more that over the past few weeks I have been in conversations locally in Fife and nationally, expressing my intention to formally seek nomination for the first place regional slot in Mid Scotland and Fife, retaining my independent status whilst standing with fellow Yes candidates in order to maximise the Yes Vote with AFI.”

Former SNP MP and interim AFI leader, Dave Thompson, said he was delighted with their new recruit.