SNP aims to turn ‘hopes for Scotland into reality’ as conference looms

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SNP leaders say they will seek to turn their “hopes for Scotland into a reality” with the prospect of a second independence referendum poised to dominate the party conference next week.

Finance Secretary Derek Mackay says the party’s “positive ambition for Scotland” will be at the heart of the Aberdeen gathering which follows recent publication of a revised economic blueprint for independence.

Thousands march in pro-independence rally in Glasgow'. Picture: John Devlin

Thousands march in pro-independence rally in Glasgow'. Picture: John Devlin

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Former Nationalist MSP Andrew Wilson’s Sustainable Growth Commission report caused a backlash among many in the Nationalist movement with its proposals for a ten-year fiscal consolidation plan which would see curbs on public spending.

Nicola Sturgeon recently said she wants to “restart” the debate on independence after shelving plans last year for a speedy post-Brexit vote on leaving the UK.

READ MORE: Labour ‘only anti-austerity party’ after Growth Commission report

Sturgeon has indicated she will decide on the timing of a second vote when the terms of Brexit become clear and she is expected to update supporters in her keynote speech on Saturday.

Mackay, the SNP’s business convener, said the party offers an alternative to the “chaos of Brexit” ahead of conference.

“The SNP is focused on hope and ambition for Scotland and committed to delivering our most ambitious policy programme to date,” he said.

“We’ve held Westminster to account every step on the way on their disastrous plans to damage Scotland’s economy by taking us out of the EU, the single market and the customs union and to overrule the Scottish Parliament in order to do it.

“In contrast, the Tories are travelling back in time, cutting spending, cutting public services and cutting off our relationship with Europe to appease the right wing Brexiteers on Theresa May’s back benches while Labour are making the wrong choices, bridled by their own disarray and completely lacking in leadership. Ours is a positive ambition for Scotland – how we create a successful economy and a flourishing, inclusive society. We look forward to leading that debate, and turning our hopes for Scotland into a reality.”

But Tory chief whip Maurice Golden said: “The SNP leader will face a party membership split over the Growth Commission report. While the SNP talk to each other about the constitution, Ruth Davidson and the Scottish Conservatives will be talking to communities across the country about the issues that matter.”