MORE than 40 candidates including a “large number” of women are vying to represent new party Action for Independence (AFI) at the Holyrood election.

The news was given to delegates at the party’s first national conference yesterday where the eight regional branches were “well represented”.

The conference was told at least four would be fielded in every electoral region with the names announced on March 23.

A spokesperson said the level of interest was encouraging and showed the support for AFI’s message of “Max the Yes” to achieve a “supermajority” of pro-independence candidates in May’s election.

Key independence activists and former MSPs are now AFI members and are hoping to stand as AFI candidates, including former SNP MSPs Dave Thompson and John Wilson, prolific independence blogger and historian Craig Murray, Forward As One organiser Martin Keatings, independence activist and award-winning journalist Mark Hirst, Glasgow East Yes activists Lynne Millar and Angela Jones and former MEP and SNP member Hugh Kerr.

AFI leader Thompson said: “AFI is the credible independence choice on the regional list across Scotland. We are determined to promote the Max The Yes strategy to assist more independence MSPs to be elected by replacing useless unionists. Our key platform is independence front and centre.

“Our call to the independence movement is vote SNP1/AFI 2 to elect a super-indy majority parliament. We have a formidable list of independence advocates who will fight under the banner of both votes independence calling on the indy family to put Scotland before party.”

Since its launch, AFI has consistently argued that both votes for the SNP in the forthcoming May elections allows Unionist parties in by default.

However, critics claim the SNP1/AFI2 tactic will not work.

The new party last month issued a detailed rebuttal, arguing that if the “#MaxTheYes” strategy is adopted by significant numbers of Yes voters, the Yes movement would have a “supermajority” in the Scottish Parliament.

“We firmly believe all independence parties standing in this May’s election should declare it to be ‘the independence election’ where a majority popular vote for pro-independence parties and candidates over both ballots is considered a mandate for independence itself,” he said.