FULL disclosure: I’m an SNP list candidate in the May elections and so it could be construed that when I argue for the biggest possible SNP in the second, regional vote as possible, I’m doing so to maximise my own chances of getting a seat.

That’s undeniably true but I believe it’s also the best result for independence.

While I’m in the confessional I’ll also own up to having previously used my second vote for the Greens, on the grounds that it is another pro-independence party and it’s better to spread the love.

I don’t believe that any more but I totally get where the urge comes from. For me, 2014 was all about the movement. I wasn’t a member of any party, although I recognised that if independence was to come about it would be the SNP that delivered it.

But in the febrile atmosphere of campaigning for Yes there was a definite feeling of a coming together of different tribes in pursuit of a shared goal. Yes was an umbrella for a wide range of activists. As we face an onslaught of attacks from Better Together’s Project Fear, there was comfort and strength in a movement’s unity of purpose.

Sadly it’s not 2014 any more. Although the independence movement remains a broad church there are now limits on the slack many of those involved are prepared to cut. If we are to get independence over the line it will require discipline, a more focussed approach and a less tolerant approach to arguments that are divisive and alienating.

I joined the SNP last year and stood for Holyrood because I recognised the party as the main vehicle for delivering independence and as the most likely to truly push through the progressive policies we need to shape the just, fair and equal country we want to create after independence.

I can’t see a better way of achieving those aims than to ensure the biggest possible majority for the SNP in May – and by doing so delivering an unequivocal message which Boris Johnson cannot dismiss except by breaking the fundamental of democracy.

Even if it is possible to use the Holyrood voting system to return the much-hyped super-majority – and that is very, very far away from being guaranteed – I don’t believe Westminster will accept anything other than an SNP majority as being legitimate.

A super-majority in any case is a made-up concept. A majority is a majority in a democracy. And the majority I care about is a strong SNP majority. Without that the election result will inevitably be dismissed by the UK Government as a failure for the independence campaign. I’m not willing to risk that. I’m not willing to risk waking up on the day the election results are announced and finding that we have not delivered an SNP majority or that a pro-independence majority is lost or threatened or fragile. I’m not willing to risk having to wait years for another opportunity to vote on Scotland’s future. It may then never come within my lifetime.I don’t want to our chances slip away just to play nice.

I know what will happen if the SNP achieves the feat – and let’s not minimise how truly remarkable it would be – of returning a majority of MSPs to Holyrood. I know because it will be in the manifesto and I simply can’t, and won’t, believe such a fundamental promise will be cavalierly discarded.

Here is what we know. A majority SNP government will hold a referendum within the term of the next parliament. It will do so when circumstances and the pandemic allow. It will seek a Section 30 order from Westminster and if one is not forthcoming it will hold a referendum anyway. It will argue that such a referendum is entirely legal and challenge Boris Johnson to take court action if he is determined to prove otherwise. I believe the world would view an attempt to derail the democratic process with disapproval.

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Frankly, all this is good enough for me. I’m not sure how a super-majority improves on that strategy. I don’t care about having “talk” on independence within the first week of the new parliament. I can’t see that as anything other than meaningless virtue-signalling which brings independence not a day closer. I can’t understand what holding a party’s “feet to the fire” when that party has been forged in the heat of debate, ridicule, knocking doors and steadily making progress over decades of hard and thankless work.

So to those looking for evidence of how their votes will be put to the best use in the coming election I’d say: let’s look at the figures. And let’s look at only the figures. Not how much we admire or dislike particular figures. Let’s simply be guided by the facts.

In 2011 the SNP won a historic victory, achieving the first majority government since Scotland’s Parliament was reconstituted. That majority consisted of 69 of the Parliament’s 129 seats: 53 of the 73 constituencies and 16 of the 56 regional or list seats.

In doing so it persuaded 45.4% of those who voted in the constituency poll to vote for the SNP and 44% of those who voted in the regional poll to do the same. So the percentage of SNP voters who gave their second vote to another party was just short of 1.5%.

In the 2016 election that SNP majority was lost. And nice guy Yessers like me who wanted to share their votes shoulder the blame. The SNP returned 63 MSPs – 59 from constituencies and only four elected from the regional poll. This time the percentage of SNP voters who did not vote for the party in the regional poll rose from 1.4% to 5.1%.

Of course there are other factors involved. The SNP won fewer constituency seats in 2011 but since no-one in their right senses would suggest intentionally losing constituency seats, that information serves no useful purpose.

We’ve heard a lot of talk about “wasted” votes in the regional poll because the more constituencies a party wins the larger the number of votes are subtracted from its list total. However, since the aim of the regional poll is to introduce proportionality into the overall result, those votes can’t truthfully be described as a “waste”.

THESE are the facts. The more regional votes any party gets makes it more likely they will return more regional MSPs.

The more SNP supporters who give the party its first AND second votes, the more likely it is that it will return MSPs.

“Gaming” the electoral system in a bid to return more pro-independence MSPs is an impossible task. It depends on the number of constituencies parties win and that is impossible to predict with 100% accuracy.

Yesterday’s Ipso Mori poll for STV – showing a 52% lead for Yes – suggested the SNP could win 70 constituency seats but the worst reaction to that among independence supporters would be complacency. There is no way of knowing how many constituencies the SNP will win. Regional seats could be vital for that majority so it makes no sense to do anything other than maximise the number it can win.

Do you think for a second that Unionist parties tie themselves in knots wondering where to give their second votes? In 2016 the Tory figures for both votes were almost identical. And Labour leader in Scotland Anas Sarwar is keen to compare “nationalists divided even among themselves” with “united” Labour.

Both Votes SNP is not perhaps the most generous-spirited slogan ever coined … but it’s the one most likely to deliver independence. If that’s not your first and only goal I’d suggest you need to take a hard look at your motivations.