Wings Over Scotland: New pro-independence party could challenge 'far left' Scottish Greens

Stuart Campbell has floated the idea of establishing a new breakaway pro-independence party
Stuart Campbell has floated the idea of establishing a new breakaway pro-independence party
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A breakaway pro-independence party could challenge the Scottish Greens for list votes at the next Holyrood election as SNP voters do not want to vote for their "far left" policies, it was claimed today.

Stuart Campbell, who runs the Wings Over Scotland website, said any new party could pick up seats at the 2021 Scottish Parliamentary election if another independence referendum was not been delivered by that time.

The controversial blogger claimed there were no great plans currently being made to set up a Wings party and that he has not yet decided whether he would run as a candidate in an election.

But he took aim at the idea that many SNP voters "lend" their second votes at Holyrood elections to the Scottish Greens, who also back independence.

Speaking on the BBC's Good Morning Scotland programme on Monday, Mr Campbell said: "The SNP votes on the regional list get badly wasted by the Holyrood electoral system. The SNP got about a million votes in 2016 - which is about the same number that Labour and the Tories combined got - but the SNP got four list seats for that, while Labour and the Tories got 45. If the SNP's list votes went to another pro-independence party, that could get a lot more seats and secure a pro-independence majority, if one was needed."

Asked if many SNP voters already viewed the Scottish Greens as a second alternative, Mr Campbell replied: "The fact is that people simply don't want to vote for far-left parties like the Greens or the SSP or Rise.

"I think Wings has about twice as many readers as the highest ever vote the Greens have recorded at an election and many times more than the other small parties.

"I think people are uncomfortable with a lot of those parties' let's say radical policies and I think they'd be prepared to vote for a pro-independence party that was a little more mainstream and one that they've known for years."

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Asked whether the party would have policies on a range of issues beyond independence, Mr Campbell said: "I imagine we'd have positions on most things but it's far too early in the day to say what all of those would be now.

"The party is just a thought at the moment, we haven't actually formed it. There's no great plans being made."

Mr Campbell also said it was unlikely a Wings party would split the pro-independence vote at Holyrood.

"It's very unlikely that that would be the case," said Mr Campbell.

"The SNP only have four list seats at the moment. Current polling looks very much as though the SNP would sweep most of the constituency seats again which means they would probably get even fewer list seats than the last time."

Mr Campbell also said suggestions the Wings party would be set up to take on the SNP were an "inaccurate description of the situation".

"The idea is to increase the number of pro-independence seats by taking them from the unionist parties, not by taking them from the SNP," he said.

The Wings blogger also said he and others had become uncomfortable with the direction being taken by the SNP. He said: "I don't think it's a great secret that I, and a lot of other people, are rather uncomfortable with the direction that the SNP is moving in at the moment.

"It seems to have become a stopping Brexit party, rather than a gaining independence party. That's something they haven't got a mandate for and it's something that if they were to achieve it, it would nullify the mandate that they do have from the 2016 election to have a second independence referendum.

"However, if they do hold a referendum before 2021, then categorically the Wings party will not happen, that's the whole point."
On whether he would run as a candidate for the party, he said: "I haven't decided that yet.

"As I say, this whole thing is just a thought at the moment but I'd imagine it's fairly likely."

A spokesman for the Scottish Greens said: "It was uncharacteristically generous of Stuart Campbell to describe the Scottish Greens as 'too radical' for his fans. After all, this is the blogger who thinks Scotland is too wee and too poor to lead on climate change."

He added: "Stuart Campbell may be too conservative for radicalism but that doesn't mean voters are.

"We believe independence is inherently a radical idea and our Scottish Green New Deal represents the alternative that's needed to the SNP's Growth Commission proposals for continued austerity. If independence is about anything, it's about a bold new vision for Scotland."