A COLLEAGUE of mine has just had an interesting communication from the SNP delivered to his home. It said they were asking “friends and family” to vote one and two for SNP candidates and “for no other party” in next month’s council elections.

This perplexed my friend, largely because the SNP has only a single candidate standing in his four-member ward in the north-east of Scotland, a ward where not so long ago the party was totally dominant.

He was also somewhat puzzled to get the mail, because no-one at all in his household is still an SNP supporter. However, I was able to tell him that this is not necessarily unusual. There is even the pawky suggestion that the SNP are now the Hotel California of Scottish politics – long after you attempt to leave, the voting instructions and, more commonly, incessant financial appeals are direct-mailed in from Jackson’s Entry in Edinburgh.

Indeed, my colleague’s “friends and family” voting instruction is accompanied by just such a letter from Nicola Sturgeon.

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However, his real consternation about trying to understand what possible political strategy would consider it sensible to attempt to instruct independence supporters, in an STV preference system, NOT to vote for other available independence-supporting candidates.

If everyone followed this madness, then the only possible consequence is to ensure Unionists elected to a majority in every council chamber across the country. After all, not one of Scotland’s 32 councils has single-party majority control at present, and there is virtually no chance of even one of them being in sole SNP control after this year’s vote. It seems Unionists have a “sleeper” running the election strategy of the SNP.

Does this really matter to the future of Scotland? Well it just might. If (and it is a big IF) the Scottish Government is serious about holding an independence referendum, one tactic to avoid a Westminster veto over the right of people to choose would be to hold, or threaten to hold, our own home-grown plebiscite in the absence of Section 30 go-ahead from London.

This would only be credible, or at least a credible threat, if local government is prepared to co-operate. The very last thing you would need in these circumstances is a range of Tory/Labour coalitions (like the present one in Aberdeen) attacking the government from below while Westminster attacks from on high.

Now, let’s ask ourselves. Who is more likely to democratically co-operate with such a Scottish plebiscite? Would it be council chambers run by some sort of Better Together re-union, the “Three Amigos” 2014 boy band of Labour, Tory and Liberals re-incarnated, or would it be independence-supporting majorities of whatever party-political hue?

This indy poison pill prescribed by SNP HQ is hard to swallow. SNP voters giving preference support to Alba, the Greens or the Independence for Scotland Party under the single transferable vote system cannot possibly damage the prospects of SNP candidates. It would increase the number of independence supporters elected, but the Edinburgh Edict of downing voting tools after the SNP will instead boost the chances of Unionists everywhere.

That’s why Alba have made it clear that, after voting one for their own local Alba candidate, we hope supporters will allocate their preferences to other indy candidates. Regardless of political rivalries, we have to keep our eyes firmly on the prize of independence.

THAT is only common sense and will be backed by all genuine Yes adherents but it leads to the question of why all this hubris from the SNP – a dog-in-a-manger attitude which even extends to their government coalition partners in the Greens.

It is quite something when you think about it. The SNP are prepared to go into coalition with a party but not even give them preferences down a ballot paper.

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It certainly suggests that co-operation from local government is no part of the indyref2 planning or that there is no real indy planning at all. This suspicion would be re-inforced by the SNP election broadcast (and the Green conference) where the cause of independence was not even mentioned.

It also fails to take account of the great divide in Scottish politics which is right down the independence fault line. The aim might be just to strangle Alba (and the ISP) at birth, in which case it depends on the recipients of the voting instructions robotically toeing the official line, regardless of independence common sense.

As far as my friend in Aberdeenshire is concerned, this is unlikely. Despite having voted SNP first choice in every election since 1974, he tells me he shall be voting Alba one. And despite his strong disapproval of the SNP tactics, their sole candidate will still get his second preference, as the only other indy candidate on his ballot paper.

The name of my friend? Alex Salmond.