I WOULD like to take you back 10 years to 2011 – a time when the hit TV show Game of Thrones aired its first episode, the News of the World printed its last edition and Steve Jobs stepped down as CEO of Apple.

The proudest moment of my political life was on that day, in May 2011, when I was elected as the SNP MSP for Clackmannanshire and Dunblane, the seat I have continued to hold since then. I was the 65th SNP MSP to be elected on the night, which confirmed the SNP would have an overall majority. As the night came to a close we ended up with 69 seats.

That year, too, we were told it was impossible for one party to gain a majority in the Scottish Parliament as our electoral system, the Additional Member System (AMS), is designed to prevent majorities forming. Granted, that was true of the three elections beforehand, but not 2011. The SNP won a majority of seats in the Scottish Parliament and delivered an independence referendum. The reason the 2011 election was different was because the vast majority of people who voted for the SNP in the constituency vote also gave their vote to the SNP on the list. Only a little over 1% of voters who gave the SNP their vote in the constituency ballot gave their vote to another party on the regional list. This maximised the SNP’s vote and returned a majority.

Now, turning to 2016. Quite the year in politics – Donald Trump was voted in as President of the United States, the Brexit referendum and Theresa May became Prime Minister. But back then the SNP also returned to form a Scottish Government with the largest ever number and share of constituency vote … but as a minority administration in a parliament with fewer independence supporting MSPs.

So, what happened? The difference was that nearly 5% of people who voted SNP in the constituency gave their regional list vote to other parties.

The 2016 election demonstrates how even a small shift in the constituency vote can change the number of seats gained. In 2016, the SNP dropped 2.3% in the regional list vote but that translated into a drop of six seats overall – or nearly 5% of the seats, double the percentage drop.

AMS works on percentages of the vote and I’m afraid to say smaller independence parties with no history of winning seats or resources to reach thousands of voters do not “maximise the vote”. We’ve seen it in previous elections where parties with high hopes – and even money – achieve few votes.

They can achieve quite the opposite – they may not get enough votes to win seats but just 1% or 2% can be enough of a margin to risk letting Unionists in through the back door.

That is how simple it is. Both Votes SNP, for a government led by Nicola Sturgeon and an independence referendum.

The fundamental question at this election will be who has the right to decide Scotland’s future?

Who has the right to decide what sort of country we should be after the pandemic – the people of Scotland through their elected Scottish Government or Boris Johnson and the Westminster Brexiteers?

On May 6 don’t risk leaving Scotland’s future in the hands of Boris Johnson. It should be Both Votes SNP for an SNP government and an independence referendum.