Nicola Sturgeon criticised on ‘Trump-like’ defence of SNP report

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Nicola Sturgeon has faced criticism from opposition parties after using Twitter to defend an SNP-commissioned economic report.

The First Minister had launched a staunch defence of the SNP’s Growth Commission amid growing anger from left-wing independence supporters that it is a blueprint for years of austerity.

The long-awaited report was published last Friday and included plans for a ten-year deficit reduction programme in the early years of independence, which would have included curbs on public spending

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Ms Sturgeon insisted the report “explicitly rejected” austerity and that public spending could still rise, but this must be lower than the overall rate of growth in the economy in order to bring Scotland’s £113 billion deficit under control.

She said she had been reading a lot of “interesting comments” on social media about the report.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has responded to criticism of the Growth Commission report. Picture: John Devlin

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has responded to criticism of the Growth Commission report. Picture: John Devlin

She tweeted: “The report explicitly rejects austerity eg Part B p44 – “Scotland should explicitly reject the austerity model pursued by the U.K. in recent years” and recommends above inflation spending growth each year.

“A marked contrast to the failed Westminster approach.”

However, director of the pro-independence Common Weal think tank Robin McAlpine said austerity was “baked in” to the report, while former SNP MP George Kerevan said it was “conservative”.

Scottish Conservative deputy leader Jackson Carlaw said: “This is a visibly desperate move by the First Minister, who’s clearly been rattled by the furious reaction of hard core independence evangelists in recent days.

“But, as is so often the case when Nicola Sturgeon takes Donald Trump’s lead on tweeting, the content is dubious.

“This report made abundantly clear that a separate Scotland is likely to bring nothing other than economic hard times.

“The authors accepted this, perhaps Scotland’s First Minister should too.

“After all, in establishing her commission, she created the beast which has now turned to bite her.”

Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard said: “The SNP promised a Growth Commission, but Nicola Sturgeon has found herself defending a Cuts Commission.”

He said Scotland “cannot afford another decade of austerity” and that Labour would invest in Scotland to transform the country.

Ms Sturgeon earlier stressed: “So we have a choice – stay as we are, locked into the Brexit spiral and continued austerity that the Westminster parties offer no alternative to – or decide to equip ourselves with the powers to build our way to a better future.

“Lastly, policy choices in an independent Scotland will always be for the government of the day, so we should welcome debate - but without independence, these choices will always be far too limited.

“That’s the case we must win - and Growth Commission helps us do it.”