Scotland’s Deputy First Minister has said the SNP is the party “that does the impossible”.
John Swinney used his speech at his party’s spring conference in Edinburgh to claim nationalists can stage and win a second independence referendum.
While the UK Government has steadfastly refused to consider granting Holyrood the powers to hold another vote, Mr Swinney insisted that stance could change.
“We are the party that does the impossible,” he told the SNP conference in Edinburgh.
The Deputy First Minister recalled his party had been told they would never win a Holyrood election, adding: “We did that, we did that three times already.
“You’ll never win in the Labour heartlands. Well we’ve done that too.
“And there aren’t any Labour heartlands any longer.
“They now say you cannot have another independence referendum and won’t win it if you do.
My message is simple – we’ll soon see about that.”
To win independence he said the party needed “to listen to views that are not ours, to find common ground and to put in place a message of hope and reassurance to our people”.
He told party activists: “If the Brexit fiasco has told us anything, it has demonstrated we need to have a better dialogue about how we change our country.
“A discussion that includes everyone. A reasoned debate about the choices we face. A discussion that confronts the challenges ahead but lifts the hopes and the aspirations of our people.”
While Brexit had left Westminster “paralysed”, he insisted the SNP government in Edinburgh had been “building the new Scotland” – noting record health funding, more Scots going to university and unemployment at a record low.
Mr Swinney said: “That’s not just the SNP getting on with our day job.
“That’s the SNP making sure that thousands of Scots have a day job to get on with in the first place.
“In just the last few months, while Westminster imploded, we have enacted world-leading measures to protect the victims of domestic violence.
“We have established an advanced payment scheme for the elderly and terminally ill victims of childhood abuse.
“We have committed to funding the tuition of EU students starting their studies in Scotland in 2020 just as any good, progressive European nation should do.”
He also used his conference speech to announced £16 million of funding over three years to help support children, young people and families.
The new Family and Communities Third Sector Fund is being set up by the Scottish Government in a bid to reduce inequality and provide more support to those who need it.
It includes projects such as training in parenting skills and more help for youngsters in care.
The fund, which will be distributed among charities, will have a focus on early intervention, Mr Swinney said.
He said: “Whether it is schemes aimed at supporting children who are also carers or projects that focus on adult learning, we want to break the inter-generational cycles that blight too many lives.
“Across a wide range of challenges from early learning to child protection and adverse childhood experiences, early intervention is key.”