A FORMER leading Nationalist has urged people to vote for the Scottish Greens in the local election instead of a party with “cult-like voting habits”.

Gail Lythgoe, the former wife of Transport Minister Humza Yousaf, made the statement on Twitter as she posted a picture of a Green campaign leaflet from Glasgow.

She wrote: “Well my #1 vote went to the only party to give me a leaflet. Glasgow needs diversity not cult-like voting habits #votegreen.”

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The leaflet showed Green Allan Faulds, who is standing against the two SNP candidates in the Victoria Park ward.

The SNP’s critics routinely say it behaves like a cult, although the same criticism was levelled at the Scottish Tories this week after their MSPs voted to defend the so-called ‘rape clause’.

Ms Lythgoe, 28, a graduate teaching assistant at Glasgow University’s law school, was convener of the SNP’s student wing from 2010 to 2012 and sat on the SNP’s ruling national executive.

She was also a parliamentary assistant to SNP MSP Joan McAlpine, and worked at the Yes Scotland campaign in the 2014 referendum.

She and Mr Yousaf married in 2010 and separated last June.

The split only emerged after Mr Yousaf blamed it for driving without insurance.

The transport minister was caught by the police after being pulled over while driving a friend’s car on the A835 near Dingwall.

He said it had been an “honest mistake”, and put it down to a change in his insurance details resulting from his separation from his wife.

He was fined £300 and given six penalty points at Glasgow Sheriff Court in February.

A Tory spokesman: “It says all you need to know about the SNP if even someone like Gail Lythgoe is describing it as a cult. It seems even former national committee members are sick of Nicola Sturgeon’s endless obsession with independence.”

A Labour source said: “When even senior SNP figures are refusing to vote for the Nationalists then it's clear that people are fed up with them.

“The best way to send Nicola Sturgeon a message that she should focus on the day job rather than another divisive referendum is to vote Labour."

The SNP declined to comment as Ms Lythgoe is no longer a party member.