SCOTLAND’S new independence party has aggravated simmering tensions among senior members of the SNP about how to end the Union.

The Alliance for Independence, which only filed registration papers with the Electoral Commission this week, is already proving to be a headache for Nicola Sturgeon and her party.

SNP HQ has accused it of “gaming the system” and splitting the vote with its plan to maximise the number of Yes MSPs in 2021 by only standing on the regional lists.

However others in the Yes movement, impatient with the lack of progress on Indyref2 in the face of Boris Johnson’s point-blank refusal to allow it, have been more sympathetic.

SNP MP Kenny MacAskill yesterday criticised his own party’s leadership for its heavy handed approach to the AFI.

READ MORE: New Independence party may not back Sturgeon on second referendum route

Writing in the Scotsman, he said a plethora of Yes parties on the list could cost the SNP seats and harm the cause.

“However the response by senior party figures has been misguided to say the least, veering from panic to authoritarian diktat."

He said the party should ponder why Yes supporters were looking for alternatives.

“The real disgruntlement has been over independence. It’s incredible the SNP has got itself into a position where some stalwarts question its commitment to the cause. 

"That’s deeply worrying. These people need engaged with and indeed treated with respect, not disdain.”

But SNP MP Pete Wishart was scathing about the AFI, saying he hoped people would become “thoroughly disillusioned” with it and other "pop up parties".

He tweeted: "They present one of the biggest dangers in securing our independence. 

"I want people to fully understand the threat these parties pose to securing our independence. It is all about unity. These pop up parties are the antithesis of that.”

In the National, SNP MP Joanna Cherry QC warned any strategy that relied on Mr Johnson granting Indyref2 “if the SNP win just one more mandate" was a risky one.

"It may be a comforting thought that his position is unsustainable, but it’s a hope that should not prevent us from looking at what other leverage we might have.”

READ MORE: Former SNP MSP Dave Thompson 'to quit party to form new party, Alliance for Independence'

Pamela Nash, chief executive of the anti-independence Scotland in Union campaign, said of Mr MacAskill and Ms Cherry's comments: “This is the latest evidence that SNP politicians are desperate to make next year’s election all about constitutional division, rather than what really matters to the people of Scotland – jobs and the NHS.

“These two cheerleaders for separation are supported by many of their colleagues, which tells you everything you need to know about the nationalists’ priorities.

“Next year’s election is not a referendum, nor is it a referendum on another referendum. People vote for parties to govern on a range of policy issues.

“The majority of people in Scotland want politicians and parties to focus on bringing people together, rebuilding our economy for everyone, and supporting our cherished NHS."