The SNP must produce its most attractive manifesto yet for a general election and offer policies that don’t rely on independence, one of its MPs has said.

Amid a fall in the polls, Alyn Smith said the party needed “the biggest, boldest and most ambitious, aspirational manifesto for a Westminster election the SNP’s ever produced”.

As well as having independence on “page one, line one”, the Stirling MP said it should propose devolving more powers to Holyrood, including over employment law, energy, the power to nationalise the Post Office in Scotland, and the power to hold Indyref2. 

He said he thought “a progressive left-wing agenda within a UK context” would appeal to a lot of voters and he felt “very upbeat” about his party’s prospects.

The reference to more devolution "within a UK context" was a tacit admission that Indyref2 is not expected anytime soon.

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The proposal for a wide-ranging manifesto is also markedly different from former first minister Nicola Sturgeon proposing to fight the election on the "single issue" of independence as a de facto referendum.

Mr Smith also warned the coming election, which has to be held by January 2025, would be the “dirtiest, grubbiest, nastiest UK campaign you’ve ever seen”.

He said: “It’s going to be about ‘war on woke’, it’s going to be about gender neutral toilets, it’s going to be about little boats. 

“We’ve got a UK Government that is banking on a low turnout, a scunner factor that says, You’re all the same, I’m not voting, why would I bother?”

Despite polls showing Sir Keir Starmer’s Labour party regularly 20 points ahead of Rishi Sunak’s Tories, Mr Smith said a Labour majority was far from assured.

He said the SNP had unfairly been accused of “Wheest for Indy”, but Labour “can genuinely be accused of Wheest for Government”. 

He said: “I don’t think that’s going to hold in the ferocity of the Westminster campaign that’s coming to us. So I think a hung parliament is not a fantastical proposition. I think the prospect of us having the balance of power is an option, is a possibility.”

Mr Smith was speaking at the Break Up of Britain event in Edinburgh on Saturday.

Referring to recent Holyrood controversies, he said: “I knocked the best part of 200 doors this morning. Actually talking to people out there in the real world who want some hope, who want to know that politics isn’t all about WhatsApp messages and iPads and ferries. It’s about bigger stuff than that. It’s about dealing with the priority of the people of Scotland.”

Seizing on the word ferries, the Scottish Tories accused Mr Smith of being out of touch.

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MSP Jamie Halcro Johnston said: “These arrogant and shameless remarks sum up how out-of-touch senior SNP MPs are with Scotland’s island and rural communities.

“His flippant dismissal of Scotland’s ferry fiasco – which has occurred on the SNP’s watch - shows a staggering lack of awareness and accountability.

“Islanders’ lives continue to be hugely disrupted by the SNP’s appalling failure to build a functioning ferry network, but Alyn Smith doesn’t seem to grasp – or care – about how urgent this issue is for those living in these communities.

“Livelihoods continue to be deeply damaged for those who depend on ferries, but this SNP MP incredibly doesn’t think it is one of Scotland’s real priorities.”