THE SNP have been criticised after it advised voters not to select any other party’s candidates in the upcoming council elections, despite the Single Transferable Vote (STV) system in place.

The STV system means that voters can rank their preferred candidates. Once a candidate has sufficient votes to be elected, a people's other preferences are taken into account, being distributed among the other candidates in a fractional transfer.

As such, by telling voters to “only” vote SNP and for “no other party”, the number of pro-independence councillors elected may be negatively impacted.

Alba’s general secretary, Chris McEleny, said he was “bitterly disappointed to see the SNP are actively encouraging their supporters not to vote for other pro-indy parties”.

“Considering this is STV, this will actively help get Unionists elected,” he added.

Martin Keatings, the activist who organised the People’s Action on Section 30 case, is running as an independent for Fife Council.

His leaflets encourage people to vote for him as their first preference, followed by other pro-independence candidates “to turn West Fife Yes”.

Sharing his own and an SNP flyer on Twitter, Keatings wrote: “A tale of two campaigns in West Fife. The first will see a Tory elected by default, and the second will see two Yes candidates elected and a Conservative removed.”

The ward Keatings is running in currently has one Tory, one Labour, and one independent councillor, though they were elected for the SNP.

In 2017, the first seat automatically went to Labour, while the fractional transfers had to be run to the end before the final two seats were allocated to the SNP and Tories.

The activist added: “Even a passive approach of just ‘SNP 1 and 2’ as they have adopted previously would have been fair enough, but a clear statement of ‘and for no other party’ sends the wrong signal at a time when the movement should be showing solidarity."

Alba and Keatings are both arguing that, by telling voters not to rank any other parties in their preferences, the SNP could be making it easier for Unionist parties to win seats.

The National: Chris McEleny

McEleny (above) told The National: “This is an STV election, there are wards that will elect three councillors, four councillors and even some that will elect five.

“It is simply incomprehensible why the SNP would want less pro-independence councillors elected, considering that in 2017 there wasn’t a single majority council and that pro-independence administrations were blocked by Unionist coalitions.

“Why then would the SNP want to reduce the likelihood of Scotland securing pro-independence administrations and instead allow the Unionists to gang up to keep their cold dead hands on Scottish local authorities?”

The SNP were approached for comment.