Nicola Sturgeon to No voters: You should back SNP

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NICOLA Sturgeon will today issue a one nation-style appeal to referendum No voters to back the SNP and help the party secure a historic third term of government in Scotland.

The First Minister will open the party’s biggest ever conference in Aberdeen with a plea to pro-Union voters ahead of next year’s Scottish Parliament elections. She will insist the SNP has the “best ideas and best people” to lead Scotland.

About 3,500 delegates will gather in Aberdeen today for the party’s Autumn conference where Ms Sturgeon will formally put the delegates on “election footing” for next year’s vote.

And she will say: “I don’t just want to win the votes of independence supporters. I want to inspire people who voted No last year to vote SNP too.

“I want them to vote SNP because they know we are the best party, with the best ideas and the best people to lead Scotland forward.

“Everyone, from the strongest supporter of independence to the stoutest advocate of the Union, has the right to know we will continue to govern well with the powers we have at any given time.” Ms Sturgeon will make an opening speech to delegates this morning where she will address the question of a second independence referendum.

But she will attempt to shift the focus to the domestic Scottish agenda and the SNP’s policies on health, education, justice, the economy and tackling inequality. A significant housing policy announcement is also expected.

The First Minister is expected to add: “There will, understandably, be significant interest in what our manifesto will say about independence. But let me make this clear. What matters just as much to me and to people across the country will be what it says about jobs and the economy, the safety of our communities, our hospitals and health centres, our schools, colleges and universities and our plans to use new powers to tackle poverty and inequality.

“On all of these issues and many, many more, our manifesto will set out radical, ambitious and progressive policies to make this country even stronger.”

The fortunes of the SNP have flourished since the referendum defeat in last year’s referendum on independence. Party membership has also soared by almost 100,000 in the year since the referendum when it stood at about 25,000.

It culminated in the dramatic Westminster election victory in Scotland in May when it returned 56 out of 59 MPs.

The party is also well ahead of Labour in Holyrood polling, with a string of surveys indicating the SNP will sweep to another Holyrood majority.