A SENIOR Yes activist who wants to be an SNP MP has been criticised after she said she would use her children as part of her campaign strategy.

Sarah-Jane Walls said being a mother "looks good" with voters and added that she could "play her" Labour opponent on the fact she has two young children.

A huge membership rise and a series of favourable opinion polls for next year's General Election have triggered a stampede in the SNP for party candidacies.

However, SNP sources have told this newspaper that tensions exist between some longstanding activists and some newly recruited Yes campaigners who are not as on-message as the more ­experienced members.

Walls joined the SNP in February when she was operations manager for Yes Scotland, the pro-independence campaign body. She has set her sights on Westminster and is one of a number of candidates in the running to be the party nominee in Stirling.

Whoever wins the selection will compete against Labour candidate and Stirling Council leader Johanna Boyd.

In a video pitch to local members in Stirling, she said: "From a strategic point, you should also think about who we are up against. Johanna Boyd is 37, she lives in Dunblane, she is a mother of three, she is the head of Stirling Council.

"Now, I don't want you to vote for me just because I am a woman, but from a strategic point of view, it will be better to have a woman up against her than a man.

"We also have the fact that she is a mother, because that always looks good with the voters, but so am I. I have a two-year-old and I have a four-year-old, so I can play her on that one too."

Politicians mention their families in election literature, but it is not standard practice for children to be an explicit part of a campaign strategy.

Walls also used her video pitch to talk up her credentials as a business owner. However, as revealed by this newspaper in 2013, Walls incurred a £750 penalty after the accounts on one of her ­companies were filed late.

Boyd said: "This is a critical election for Stirling and the entire country, and I look forward to debating important issues in the run-up to May 7."

Her Labour colleague, Lord Foulkes, went further: "It is clear the SNP now have two groups. They have the old stalwarts, but also the new recruits who have just joined recently and who know little about politics."

Walls said of her comments on her children: "The context it is intended is that of having a strong candidate that can relate to voters, has life experience, can relate to families, understands the difficulties working families face and making sure we have a candidate that can take on Johanna Boyd."