IT all looks so simple – just remove the SNP from the regional list votes and stand some sort of independence only party(s), and we get more independence-supporting MSPs. So opined Ruth Wishart in her column (Alternative pro-independence votes may be key to Yes majority, June 29).

It does, however, have a few fatal obstacles to overcome. Let’s have a look at the situation.

CLAIM – The SNP are not really interested in independence and are now looking after themselves, going native in Westminster and comfortable in Holyrood.

READ MORE: Ruth Wishart: Alternative pro-independence votes may be key to Yes majority

Well, the actual performance doesn’t bear that out. Look at the SNP continuously challenging in Westminster. They have been the only real opposition to the Tories for years. They stand up for Scotland constantly exposing the hapless Tory government. In Holyrood they are doing such a great job that they are surging in the polls and the independence vote is also rising on the back of that. Note – the independence vote follows the success of the SNP government.

CLAIM – The SNP have no plan other than to continuously ask for a Section 30 order, which will always be refused.

This ignores all the steps Nicola has put in place. The agreed motion in the Scottish Parliament. The referendum question being reviewed by the Electoral Commission (but Nicola has made it clear that the Scottish Parliament will decide the question).

The statement that there would be a referendum in 2020 (unfortunately scuppered by Covid). There is no doubt there was a clear plan to request the Section 30 order and, on refusal of the democratic right of the Scottish people, to press on with our own one – Westminster having shot itself in the foot.

READ MORE: Unionists are already ‘gaming the system’ at Holyrood elections

CLAIM – The SNP having an outright majority in the 2021 election (as polls predict) is not good enough to press on with a referendum and we need other Yes MSPs. As in 2011, an outright SNP majority not reliant on other conditional votes is an incredibly strong position to be in.

CLAIM – we can “game the system” by having another independence party, alliance or whatever it is called to mop up the SNP list votes which do not elect SNP MSPs. This falls for many many reasons. I’ll list a few.

1) The assumption that all SNP voters are independence supporters (or are even strongly committed). We know from data this is not the case. In fact on the rare occasion when the Scotland Office accidentally released details of “vote transfer” in one Scottish Parliament election we could see what is called “leakage”. Basically, voters who voted SNP on the constituency vote but for Unionist parties on the list vote. This is also borne out by canvass returns.

2) The assumption that independence is the sole preoccupation on many voters’ minds. NO – die-hard independence supporters are not a majority. People vote for a multiple of reasons inc health, education, general competence, whether they like a leader etc.

3) The message will not be straightforward if you run some sort of other party. “Both Votes SNP” was straightforward and easily understood. The more complicated the message, the less likely it is to succeed.

4) The SNP are heading for that majority – why risk it? Producing a Yes majority through gaming the system allows Unionists to refute the legitimacy of a pro-independence majority gained through tricks.

5) You can’t easily direct people how to vote. All the evidence shows this is a very limited strategy and that voters’ loyalties are quite strong. And they are particularly strong to the SNP now.

6) You can’t predict what the actual constituency results will be, therefore “gaming” the regional vote without that knowledge is very risky. Remember the predictions that the SNP would sweep the board at the last two elections? Predictions were wrong, and you can’t build a strategy on that.

One aspect of Covid is that Scotland is being recognised across the UK as a nation in every news bulletin. Our SNP government is admired, and this all builds our case amongst the waverers. Nicola is respected across the UK and commands authority. Why jeopardise all this?

Tony Grahame