THE SNP’s president Mike Russell has hit back at critics of the party’s new independence strategy, insisting it is not “confusing or complicated”.

At the Independence Convention on Saturday, Humza Yousaf pledged that the Yes cause would be front and centre of the next General Election campaign – proposing that if the SNP win the most seats, they’ll seek negotiations with the UK Government on how to give “democratic effect” to securing independence.

In the event of a win, the party will also produce a draft legal text on the necessary transfer of powers from Westminster to Holyrood to “prepare for independence”, including details on how assets would be divided between Scotland and the rest of the UK.

Scotland would also send a special envoy to Brussels to pave the way for a return to the EU and begin drafting a new “interim” constitution, Yousaf confirmed.

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However, since the strategy was announced – ahead of it being voted on by members at the SNP conference in October – public policy professor James Mitchell has said it is “steeped in ambiguity and incoherence”, branding it “deeply confused”.

Meanwhile, MSP and former SNP leadership candidate Ash Regan cast doubt on whether the UK Government would listen in negotiations if the bar was not set high enough by the SNP. 

Former first minister Alex Salmond was also critical of the plan, saying Yousaf was trying to be “all things to all activists” and will end up “disappointing everyone”.

But Russell said there was nothing complicated about the SNP’s plan and it would in fact give the party space to get away from process and start persuading people of the benefits of independence.

He told The National: “When you win an election you take on an obligation to implement what you have had in your manifesto. That’s democracy 101.

“I’m not going to take lectures about what constitutes a victory.

“You can test an election, and if you win an election, you have a responsibility to move forward what you have argued for.

“I think this is very easy to understand and I can’t understand why that would be a controversial point of view.”

The National: Humza Yousaf's plan allows the SNP space to persuade people of the benefits of independence, Mike Russell has saidHumza Yousaf's plan allows the SNP space to persuade people of the benefits of independence, Mike Russell has said (Image: PA)

Asked whether the plan was flawed because the UK Government was unlikely to play ball, Russell said: “One of the problems that exists in politics is someone says ‘A’ and another person then says ‘but what if they say B?’.

“Elections are elections. You have an election, somebody wins an election, and you go on and implement the results of that election. That’s not difficult to understand.

“People are entitled to different views, but it seems to me, reasonable, in a democracy for a leader of a party to say we are going into this election saying this, and if we are elected, we are going to do this.

“I’ve observed a lot of people who seem to think this is confusing or complicated. I think they need to look at this and realise that’s a fairly normal and democratic thing to do.”

The National asked Russell if the method of seeking independence negotiations based on winning the most seats was really democratic, given the First Past the Post voting system does not truly reflect how people have voted.

But he said the party have no choice but to play what is in front of them, unless they want to continue getting bogged down in process talks.

He said: “That’s the system that we’ve got [First Past the Post]. I much prefer proportional representation but that’s not how it is.

“We sometimes overdo the fairness aspect. That’s what is in front of you, and that’s what you do.

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“We need to stop this obsession with process. It delights the UK Government to think that all we’re going to talk about is process and just talking about process doesn’t bring independence a moment nearer.”

Russell added: “My strong advice to my fellow members of the Yes movement is let’s get on with persuading people why we need independence and let’s stop obsessing about process.

“This method gives us space to be able to persuade people of the benefits of independence and allows us to get on with it.”