ONE of Nicola Sturgeon’s most trusted former advisers has backed voting for Alex Salmond’s new Alba Party.

Noel Dolan, Ms Sturgeon’s senior special adviser and policy guru while she was deputy First Minister, said it would improve the odds of a pro-independence Holyrood.

The endorsement comes in spite of the First Minister accusing list-only Alba of trying to "game" the Holyrood electoral system and asking people to give both their votes to the SNP.

Mr Salmond, who is due to set out a route map to independence this afternoon, says Alba can mop up list votes that would otherwise be “wasted” if they went to the SNP, given their strength in constituencies makes it harder for them to get top-up MSPs.

The former FM has said a combination of SNP and Alba MSPs would create a “super-majority” for independence at Holyrood, putting pressure on Boris Johnson to concede a second referendum or legitimise street demonstrations for Indyref2.

Mr Dolan told the Daily Record: “I’m voting for what I regard as the best opportunity for getting a second independence referendum, or moving towards independence.

“On the basis of the way on which the system works it would be sensible, if you favour independence, to vote for the SNP in the constituency vote and Alba on the second vote.”

He also said there was a “very strong probability” Alba would take seats off unionist parties, adding the “probability of an independence-supporting majority is increased by voting Alba”.

Mr Dolan and Ms Sturgeon were almost inseparable at Holyrood for many years, and were regularly seen deep in conversation in the garden lobby coffee shop and canteen.

However they have diverged more recently over the Salmond affair, with Mr Dolan saying the Government’s top civil servant should have lost her job over the saga.

Speaking ahead of his campaign event, Mr Salmond said: “On week one of the Scottish Parliament elected with an Independence Supermajority, the Scottish Government should seek an instruction from the Parliament to begin Independence negotiations with the Westminster Government.

“However for that to happen people need to vote Alba on the list to deliver that independence Supermajority and to allow those negotiations to begin.  

“What will change Westminster's mind about engaging in negotiations is the strength of the votes in Scotland and the knowledge that they are not taking on a single party, the SNP, but a Parliament representing an entire nation.”