Senior SNP MP Kenny MacAskill has been accused of a “direct challenge to Nicola Sturgeon’s authority” after he suggested voters should back a rival pro-independence party at next year’s Holyrood election. He said voting solely for the SNP “just doesn’t work” if Scotland wants to gain independence from the UK.
Mr MacAskill wrote in the Scotsman: “The focus of the election is almost certainly going to be on the constitution.
“What better way of allowing Scottish voters a choice than a specific ‘independence’ option on the list.”
His comments lay bare infighting within the SNP, divided over the best route to secure Scottish independence.
Frustration is growing within the Nationalist party over both the lack of real progress in the Scottish independence campaign.
Mr MacAskill said the Holyrood electoral system “was itself designed to stop an SNP majority”.
He added: “That may have failed spectacularly but it was the cunning plan of its Westminster designers.
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His comments provoked a furious backlash from Ms Sturgeon’s close ally and Shadow Scottish Secretary Ian Murray, who said the comments were a “direct challenge” to the First Minister.
Mr Murray said: “This is clearly a direct challenge to Nicola Sturgeon’s authority from a sitting MP.
“But what’s most telling is that Mr MacAskill and his supporters want to make next year’s election all about constitutional division.
“When you scratch under the surface it’s always about independence for the SNP, when it should be about the NHS and jobs.
“The priority should be economic recovery and protecting our health service, not dividing the people of Scotland once again.”
An SNP spokesman said: “SNP candidates might have been expecting Kenny’s support.”