The campaign for Scottish independence must be separated from the SNP, one of the party’s own MPs has claimed.
In the latest example of disunity among nationalists, Kenny MacAskill said many potential voters “are neither in a party nor want to be”.
The MP for East Lothian called for other pro-independence organisations to be “respected not directed” if a second referendum was eventually to take place.
Nationalists are split over both the timing and the best way to secure a legally-binding vote on the constitution. Some have called for an IndyRef2 to be held before the end of year, but such a move is viewed as unlikely among senior party members.
The 2014 referendum campaign saw Yes Scotland established as an umbrella group for all pro-independence supporters. While it was chaired by former Labour MP Dennis Canavan, it relied heavily on the SNP for finance and organisational capacity.
Disputes among members of other parties led to Yes Scotland being branded an “SNP front”.
MacAskill has now called for the new Yes campaign to be broader in scope than the 2014 version.
“It’s been assumed by some in the SNP that the formation of a larger Yes movement organisation is a threat to either the party or the cause,” he wrote in a column in The Scotsman.
“That’s wrong in my view and the creation of such an umbrella group is not just good for both but actually essential for success.
“2014 had Yes Scotland but it was late into the game and indeed the professionalisation that came from SNP resources and staff being put in was essential.”
He added: “But this is 2021 and the terrain and time has changed. Now it’s more important than ever that the Yes cause is separated from the SNP.
“The latter has to govern the devolved Scotland but the former need to portray the opportunities for an independent Scotland.
“In any event, whilst the SNP is the largest party supporting independence, it’s not the only one. Others large and small need respected not directed.
“More importantly the cause transcends all those parties. Just as there’s a Labour party but a wider Labour movement, so there is the SNP and an independence movement. Many people are neither in a party nor want to be. But their support and involvement is vital.”
Boris Johnson has repeatedly said the UK Government will not sanction another referendum – causing some SNP members to call on Nicola Sturgeon to push forward with a vote anyway if she is returned to power following May’s Holyrood election.