Another independence referendum should not be called until polling shows support for leaving the UK is above 60%, an SNP MSP has said.
Backbencher John Mason described himself as being “in the patient camp”, waiting until polls show Yes support is between 60% and 70% before calling for another vote to be held.
In an interview with The National, the Glasgow Shettleston MSP said waiting until indications are that the independence campaign is “well ahead” would put pressure on the UK Government to agree to a second referendum.
He said: “I think we need to build support for independence.
“I’d like to see the polls well ahead before we call a referendum, maybe 60/40 or 70/30, that would have a lot of effect.
“It would tell Westminster that’s what we want, it would show the international community and it would put pressure on Westminster.
“As long as we sit at 50/50, anyone in Westminster and the wide world can say ‘it’s not very clear and we’re not going to allow it’.”
A YouGov poll conducted in February found support for independence almost level with support for remaining in the UK, with 45% of Scots saying they would vote to leave while 46% said they would back the union.
However, less than a fifth (17%) of those questioned said they want to have another vote on the issue immediately.
Pamela Nash, chief executive of pro-union campaign group Scotland in Union, said: “John Mason has issued a timely reminder that the SNP said it would not agitate for a divisive second referendum unless support for leaving the UK reached over 60%.
“The overwhelming majority of polls show that most Scots want to remain in the UK, despite being bombarded with a relentless daily campaign from the SNP.
“The SNP has a track record of breaking promises – we were told the 2014 contest would be a ‘once-in-a-generation’ vote; and Nicola Sturgeon insisted there had to be ‘clear and sustained evidence’ for another referendum.”
Scottish Conservative constitution spokesman Murdo Fraser said: “The SNP is hopelessly divided on indyref2 and ready to tear itself apart.
“Each day we hear of SNP MSPs and MPs disagreeing with each other over indyref2, transgender issues, even whether or not they can publicly support each other.
“The only way through this constant turmoil is to put the constitutional division to one side and for the SNP to start concentrating on improving the woeful state of Scottish public services.”
Mr Mason also revealed to The National that he would be seeking his party’s nomination to stand again at the 2021 Holyrood election, following a wave of announcements that SNP MSPs including Gail Ross, Mike Russell and Stewart Stevenson will be stepping down.
The often outspoken MSP said it is “healthy” to have backbenchers who question their Government, and added: “I believe I have a role to play in Parliament.
“I am comfortable on the backbenches, questioning the Government at times which I think is important not just for opposition MSPs but also for SNP MSPs.”
An SNP spokesman said: “The SNP has a cast-iron mandate to hold an independence referendum – and polling consistently shows support for independence up since 2014, with recent polls showing clear majority support.
“The people of Scotland must have the right to choose their own future, and it’s completely undemocratic and unsustainable for any party or politician to deny that.
“As long as Scotland’s interests are ignored by the Westminster parties, support for the positive opportunities and hope for the future that independence offers will continue to rise.”