THE SCOTTISH Greens will attempt to treble their number of MSPs at next year’s Holyrood election by appealing to traditional Labour voters who have been “abandoned” by Richard Leonard’s party.

The party, which is holding its annual conference virtually this weekend, is drawing up preparations for May’s crunch election and is confident it can dump Labour into a dismal fourth place.

Lorna Slater, the Scottish Greens’ co-leader, has insisted that the anti-independence argument is now “a loser’s approach” but has warned the SNP has failed in setting out the reasoning for separation from the UK.

Slater hopes her party could secure up to 18 seats at next year’s election, tripling the number of MSPs it currently has in Holyrood.

READ MORE: Lorna Slater says Scottish Greens can ‘maybe catch' Labour and become third biggest party in Scotland

The Greens see toppling Labour as a realistic target – claiming the party has been caught up in a mess over Brexit, independence and squabbling amongst themselves.

Slater said: “Labour has really let down people of Scotland.

“At the moment they seem to stand for nothing but Brexit and unionism. They spend so much time fighting with each other that they are not able to provide leadership. The unions are challenging Labour’s approach to Scottish workers.

HeraldScotland: Labour leader Richard LeonardLabour leader Richard Leonard

“Labour has abandoned a whole bunch of territory, they have abandoned a whole bunch of people and the Scottish Greens are putting out the message that we understand the problems that Scotland’s workers face.”

A potential headache for Labour is the emerging trade union support for independence.

The Scottish Trade Union Council has praised the Greens' workers rights proposals – suggesting it includes "very strong recommendations and commitments".

When asked about her party’s chances at May’s election, Slater said she would “like to see 15 or 18” MSPs win seats at Holyrood.

She added: “We’re currently polling for about 11 but we haven’t even started campaigned yet.”

Slater is confident that the UK Government will buckle to pressure and grant a second independence referendum if there is a Yes-supporting majority in Holyrood following May’s election.

She said that “even Conservatives are realising how bad it looks for them” to continue to oppose a re-run of the 2014 referendum.

She added: “Nobody is saying that the union is any good, nobody has got any sort of argument for the union. It's a terrible look.

READ MORE: Scottish Greens call for four-day week plans to move forward

“We’ve already passed the tipping point where that starts to increase support for independence. Every time they say ‘no, we don’t respect Scotland’s democratic rights’, more people come over to the independence movement.

“It absolutely isn’t a sustainable position and I think they recognise that at all levels. They know a referendum is coming and they know they are going to lose – that's the whole problem with their approach – it's a losers’ approach.”

Although the Greens are likely to join forces with the SNP in some form in campaigning for independence if a referendum is held, Slater has criticised Nicola Sturgeon’s party for not setting out the reasoning for wanting independence.

She said: “It’s not good enough to say we’re going to be independent but everything is going to stay exactly the same – what's the point?

HeraldScotland: Polls predict there will be a Yes-supporting majority following May's Holyrood electionPolls predict there will be a Yes-supporting majority following May's Holyrood election

“At the moment, the SNP are just wishing that things turn out right without actually doing any functional planning. They just say independence is the answer to everything instead of just being merely a step towards a better, greener future.”

Slater's fellow co-leader, Patrick Harvie, has dismissed a host of independence supporting parties that will bid for Holyrood being a threat to the Greens' success.

He said: “Many people who support independence do think the SNP need to be pushed beyond their comfort zone.

“I think they can see that the Greens are the ones with a track record of doing that successfully.

“We’ll look forward to the May election, standing on our record, and I think the polls at the moment show we have the potential to make gains right across the country.”