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Sturgeon: The SNP is a social democracy model which is under threat across the world

Nicola Sturgeon
Nicola Sturgeon

Nicola Sturgeon will today cast the SNP as a bastion of a social democracy model that is under attack across the globe.

The first minister will use her keynote address to the SNP conference in Aberdeen to vow to “stand up” for principles which she fears are in “retreat” in the era of Donald Trump and Brexit.

And Ms Sturgeon will demand the devolution of immigration powers to “protect” Scotland from Westminster policies.

The SNP leader arrived yesterday at the Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre (AECC) boosted by poll figures showing her party could gain seats at the next UK election, as well as a study showing a rise in backing for a new independence vote within five years.

But critics seized on Ms Sturgeon’s “car crash” performance in a Channel 4 News interview after she forgot the £450million figure put forward in the recent Growth Commission report for the potential cost of setting up new institutions after independence.

More than 2,000 delegates made their way to the AECC yesterday, almost exactly 50 years after the first SNP conference in Aberdeen in 1968.

Ms Sturgeon will take to the stage this afternoon under renewed pressure over the timing of a bid for a second independence referendum since the publication of the Growth Commission report last month.

And she will portray the SNP government as a model of stability im a turbulent world.

In her speech, the first minister will say: “We are governing in tough times.

“The legacy of the recession and the continued reality of Westminster austerity challenges us every single day.

“In countries across the world, social democracy appears to be in retreat – and many long established political norms are in a state of flux.

“At times like these, and for parties like ours, two things are more important than ever. To focus on what makes a difference – not just now, but in the long term. And to stand up for what we believe in.”

The speech will also renew the SNP’s call for the powers to attract more migrant workers to Scotland to avert future depopulation and skills shortages.

“Scotland is a welcoming country – our prosperity and our public services depend on it,” she will say, echoing a policy in the Growth Commission report.

“If Westminster cannot or will not act in our best interests, it is time that our own parliament was able to do so.

“It’s time for powers over migration to come to Scotland.”

Ms Sturgeon will also announce that the flagship £150million Building Scotland fund – the precursor to the Scottish National Investment Bank, which was unveiled as part of this year’s budget.

About £70million is to be invested in the coming year, including £25million to support at least 3,000 new homes.

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