A senior SNP figure has called for the party to "create some distance" from the "hugely unpopular" Scottish Greens and treat them as "an opponent like any other" at the next general election

The plea comes as Lorna Slater confirmed that 32 local branches had selected candidates for the Westminster vote, up from the 22 on the ballot in 2019.

On Sunday, Patrick Harvie insisted that there would be no electoral pact with the SNP at the general election.

The Scottish Green co-leader said that while his party “strongly believe in political cooperation” he would not be having “those kind of conversations” with Humza Yousaf.

READ MORE: Lorna Slater and Patrick Harvie back Scotland's assisted dying Bill

At the last general election, the Scottish Greens lost all of their deposits, with none of their candidates winning more than 5% of the vote.

However, there were some marginal seats where their vote was bigger or nearly the same size as the SNP majority.

In East Dunbartonshire where Amy Callaghan beat Lib Dem Jo Swinson by 149 votes, the Green candidate, Carolynn Scrimgeour, won 916 votes.

A senior SNP figure told The Herald: "Outwith a handful of urban neighbourhoods the Greens are increasingly unpopular and seen as totally out of touch. I’ll be surprised if their vote doesn’t plummet. 

"Going into the election the SNP needs to create some distance from the Greens - at the ballot box, under first past the post, they’re an opponent like any other. Working together in Holyrood doesn’t mean we agree on everything - far from it. That needs to be communicated to the electorate"

Speaking to the BBC’s Sunday Show about the election, Mr Harvie said it was “critical that the existential critical challenges that the world faces with the climate and nature emergency is on the table” at the general election.

“A strong Green vote in that Westminster election can be transformative, just as it can be in other countries around the world.

“This is a chance for the world to get the kinds of governments in place that will actually take this crisis seriously, and begin the transformational changes that are required.”

Asked if he had spoken to the SNP, Mr Harvie said: “We don't have those kind of conversations. We strongly believe in political cooperation.

“I think politics is at its best when political parties acknowledge their differences, express their differences, but also seek the common ground and try to work constructively.

“But at an election time, it's time to put all of those ideas, all of those visions on the table and allow the voters to make their choices. So we don't go in for electoral pacts.”

He was asked about an interview with Ms Slater last October when she was asked if the Greens could go into government with another party.

She said they were “open to conversation wherever we have points in common.”

Asked if independence “wasn’t a red line?”

Slater replied: “Absolutely not”.

READ MORE: Greens open to going into government with Unionist parties at Holyrood

Mr Harvie said: “Independence is a policy that we strongly support. There's no chance of our party choosing to ditch that policy as far as I can see.

“At the moment, there is a very strong pro-independence majority in the Scottish Parliament, the SNP formed a government and invited us to join it.

“A change of the Scottish Government would require a new Scottish election.

“It's not going to result from the Westminster election. So you know if there's a change at Westminster and a new UK Labour government, they have an opportunity to reset to change direction and to rebuild a functional relationship with the Scottish Government that the Tories have sabotaged.”

He said he hoped for “a different tone from a UK Labour government.”

One policy where the Greens may be closer to Labour than the SNP is over Sir Keir Starmer’s call for a “proper” windfall tax.

While Humza Yousaf backs a levy on energy profits, he has shied away from some of the restrictions put forward by Labour, Mr Harvie said: “We strongly support a windfall tax on the oil and gas industry. Yes, but I think the SNP make a fair point that it should apply more widely.

“There are businesses and industries that profited during the cost of living crisis, for example, I see no reason they shouldn't be subjected to a windfall tax.”

He added: “The biggest companies, they have spent decades churning out propaganda and climate denial misinformation.

“Their money needs to be put into investing in the green economy. That is the only viable future.

“And if we get that investment right from the public purse and from the private sector, then we'll be creating a successful economy for the future, one with high-quality jobs that will last for the long term, instead of an industry that is clearly on its way out.”

Scottish Conservative shadow cabinet secretary for Net Zero, Energy and Transport Douglas Lumsden said: “In typical Scottish Green fashion, Patrick Harvie by his own admission admits that the Green party would happily turn the taps off on oil and gas.

“The Greens as ever are determined to harm the economy and are perfectly willing to throw tens of thousands of workers under a bus.

“He would rather deflect and point fingers at the UK Government than accept that Lorna Slater’s shambolic handling of the Deposit Return Scheme led to its collapse due to her stubbornness, pettiness and refusal to engage with businesses.

“It is clear that the Scottish Green party would rather see Scotland miss out on jobs and economic boosts – and only the Scottish Conservatives can be relied on to stand up for Scotland’s economy.”