Former First Minister and Alba Party leader Alex Salmond said his former party faces an “election disaster” if the pro-independence vote is split.
In an open letter to First Minister Humza Yousaf on Friday, Mr Salmond said the party was “in danger of handing over the Labor Party seat on the plate”.
But speaking to journalists in Hamilton on Saturday while campaigning with candidate Katy Loudon, Shona Robison dismissed the calls.
“No, we are running as the SNP in this constituency, at this by-election, to bring forward the SNP’s proposal and policies like the Scottish Child Payment and to send a hard-working MP to Westminster to advocate and support her constituents.” and push the very progressive policies of the SNP,” she said.
“Katy (Loudon) will do brilliantly, I have no doubt about that.”
Mr Salmond said the by-election could see five pro-independence candidates on the ballot, including from the SNP, the Greens and Alba – and not one to take on Labour.
Mr Salmond instead suggested that Mr Yousaf should advocate a unified approach at the SNP conference in October by campaigning for a single independence candidate in each constituency in the next general election, which is expected to be held next year.
READ MORE: Salmond tells Yousaf SNP faces ‘disaster’ in election
He said: “The process of replacing Labor as the dominant party in Scottish politics began long before you even joined the SNP.
“It seems more than a setback for the independence cause if it could regain traction by fielding multiple independence candidates in the Rutherglen and Hamilton West by-elections.”
He urged the First Minister to reply by Friday 25 August in time for the Alba National Council meeting next day, at which the party will decide whether to contest the seat.
Meanwhile, Scotland’s Labor Party launched what the party described as a “super Saturday” campaign day in Rutherglen and Hamilton West, claiming the SNP showed nothing but negativity at the by-election.
“Today the Scottish Labor Party is taking its message of hope and a new beginning with our candidate Michael Shanks to hundreds of doors across the constituency,” said Labor leader Anas Sarwar.
“But while the Scottish Labor party focuses on hope for the future, the SNP campaign is in overdrive trying to do the Tories’ job for them by attacking Labour.
“The fact is that after 16 years in government and nearly a decade representing the majority of Scotland’s seats at Westminster, the SNP is out of touch and has no record to draw on.
“As the SNP fuels division and a negative campaign, the Scottish Labor Party is taking its message of change, a new deal for working people, action to tackle the cost of living crisis and bailing out our NHS.”
READ MORE: Angela Rayner – Labor won’t win just because it’s ‘less shitty’ than the Tories
During her party’s campaign freeze, Ms Robison said Labor had become “arrogant” in the constituency.
“I think we’re clear that we’re fighting for every vote, we’re working hard, we’re knocking on the door, we’re not at all complacent, and that’s how we’re going to continue campaigning,” she said.
“Certainly not taking anything for granted, unlike other parties seem to do.”