Rolling coverage of the SNP conference in Glasgow, including Nicola Sturgeon’s keynote speech

Brennan-Whitefield’s speech calling for cannabis to be decriminalised for medical use

Sturgeon’s speech - Snap verdict and summary

6.10pm BST

This, from ID7748821 in the comments BTL, is very interesting.

After Thursday, that seemed like a bit of an anti-climax. Nicola Sturgeon’s end of conference speech is supposed to be her most important of the week, but south of the border her speech on Thursday threatening a second independence referendum if Scotland gets forced out of the single market is the one that people will remember from this week. It may well be that in Scotland it is the one that resonates too.

Hello, Andrew. Firstly, thanks very much for your coverage. I think we've now hit a point where the reactions need to be divided into 'domestic' and 'UK' reactions. In Scotland, the speech on Thursday was just a clear statement of what we already knew: there was a bit more detail but no change in Scottish govt policy since the morning after the Brexit vote. But in London you haven't been following that debate, so it was big news to you.

Of course, I know there is still much to do.

Much to do in the next phase of Scotland’s home rule journey.

Our home rule journey has given us new confidence.

6.05pm BST

Gavin Kelly, chief executive of the Resolution Trust and a deputy chief of staff to Gordon Brown in Downing Street, also thinks Nicola Sturgeon has discovered her inner Blairite.

Choice & flexibility in childcare. More echoes of early new Labour in SNP public service agenda (tho' neither side will welcome comparison) https://t.co/IQjfT5QZQt

5.53pm BST

And this is what political journalists and commentators are saying about Nicola Sturgeon’s speech.

The reaction suggests that some of those who on Thursday were sceptical about whether Nicola Sturgeon would in the end use Brexit as an excuse to trigger a second independence referendum may be less sceptical about her intentions now.

Just catching up with Sturgeon speech: remarkable that SNP is now embracing Michael Forsyth's nursery vouchers scheme, 20 years too late.

/ Otherwise, how good to see the FM focus on children in care, for so long a Cinderella area of policy. Most welcome.

/ Need to look at numbers on her NHS announcement, but that's a huge investment in GPS and primary care. Where's it coming from? Hospitals?

/ Tastiest line in the speech? Calling the Tories "separatists". Ouch!

/ A thought on that nursery voucher scheme: it is increasingly difficult to distinguish SNP public sector reforms from early Blairism.

/ This, by the way, is a good thing.

This is a very interesting speech. "Love, actually". Dramatic contrast with "Be in no doubt" tone of Friday. #snp16

Sturgeon trying to be as unlike Mrs May as possible. Even revealing an emotional dimension to her vision of "inclusive" nationalism. #snp16

A functional speech from Sturgeon. Entertaining that the only "new" policy (childcare vouchers) is exquisitely Thatcherite. #SNP16

Still, excellent magpie politics from Sturgeon: nicking the children in care stuff from Labour & the education stuff from the Tories.

Striking range of emotion in Sturgeon's speech: anger at xenophobia, love for children in care #SNP16

Final words from Sturgeon remind me of #indyref urging to 'live as though you are in the early days of a better nation' #SNP16

#SNP16 not a great final speech @NicolaSturgeon short on policy and vision thing pretty vacuous other than caring for youth

Sturgeon building rhetorical foundations for #indyref2 in speech. Laying it on thick about right-wing, isolationist, nasty England. #SNP16

Quick take: Sturgeon clearly feels a May Brexit Government will be as powerful a force as Brexit itself in upping support for independence

..Sturgeon boldly trying to recast the Conservatives as separatists, and without quite saying it, as migration-obsessed English nationalists

SNP conference has just given a huge cheer to the words "permanent trade representation in Berlin". These are strange times.

Sturgeon's rhetoric means she'll either have to call an indepedence vote or endorse Theresa May's Brexit deal https://t.co/ZA1hjcrTgC

You'd never guess from the SNP's spending commitments that Scotland has a deficit of 9.5% (EU's highest).

5.41pm BST

This is from the BBC’s Philip Sim.

Nicola Sturgeon wades into crowd at the close of her #SNP16 speech; poses for pictures with some of those young people brought up in care pic.twitter.com/3amAvrStvv

5.31pm BST

Here is the full text of Nicola Sturgeon’s speech.

5.23pm BST

Here is Anas Sarwar, Labour’s health spokesman in Scotland, on Nicola Sturgeon’s speech.

New funding is welcome, but this is the SNP reversing their own cuts to the budgets of family doctors, having slashed a massive £1.6bn in the past decade.

The test will not just be the money spent, it will be number of new GP recruited, GPs retained, saving local practices from closures and more auxiliary support services.

5.21pm BST

Here is Gordon Hector, head of research for the Scottish Conservatives, on Nicola Sturgeon’s speech.

We tories are so wicked & nasty that NS has, er, copied two of our policies - expanding SDI & childcare £ following child. #SNP16

Evil tories schtick tad undermined by adopting 4 social policies we proposed. Go for it: just don’t pretend we & our ideas are bad. #SNP16

4.52pm BST

And this is from Kezia Dugdale, the Scottish Labour leader.

Announcements on Looked After Children from #snp16 are very welcome - here's what I said last October https://t.co/aJCoH2mXGc pic.twitter.com/cWrbaNaU0c

4.50pm BST

Here is Iain Gray, Labour’s education spokesman in Scotland, responding to Nicola Sturgeon’s speech.

Labour has led the debate around improving support for looked after children for years, and a review of the entire system is one we welcome. The truth is that looked after children are Scotland’s children, the state is the parent and we pay the bills.

We would ask the first minister to go a step further and put improving outcomes for looked after children at the heart of the country’s attainment strategy. That is why Labour said it should be considered in school inspections.

4.35pm BST

After Thursday, that seemed like a bit of an anti-climax. Nicola Sturgeon’s end of conference speech is supposed to be her most important of the week, but south of the border her speech on Thursday threatening a second independence referendum if Scotland gets forced out of the single market is the one that people will remember from this week. It may well be that in Scotland it is the one that resonates most too.

After more than nine years in office in Scotland it is getting harder (although by no means impossible, given the limits on the Scottish parliament’s power) for the SNP to explain away poor public services, and there was evidence of that today, in Derek Mackay’s Today interview (see 10.42am) and the reception John Swinney got at an education fringe (see 1.50pm). And you could detect some evidence of this too in Sturgeon’s speech, which was notably free of boasting. Instead it was pragmatic and workmanlike (and probably all the better for that).

4.19pm BST

It was this tweet, from Theo Bertram, a former adviser to Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, that I was reminded of early when Nicola Sturgeon spoke about Syria in her speech. (See 3.26pm.)

All the talk of immigration. No mention of Aleppo or Syria in conference speeches by either May or Corbyn. Maybe I missed it.

4.01pm BST

That’s it. The speech is over.

I will post a summary and snap verdict soon.

4.01pm BST

Sturgeon is now on her peroration.

We have already come so far.

Our home rule journey has given us new confidence.

4.00pm BST

Sturgeon is now rehearsing a key argument she could use to justify a second independence referendum.

Let us be clear about this too.

If that moment does arise, it will not be because the 2014 result hasn’t been respected.

3.59pm BST

Sturgeon reaffirms the case for independence.

And make no mistake - it is the opponents of independence, those on the right of the Tory party, intent on a hard Brexit, who have caused the insecurity and uncertainty.

So it falls to us, the advocates of independence, to offer solutions to the problems they have created.

We will work with others across the political divide to try to save the UK as a whole from the fate of a hard Brexit.

We will propose new powers to help keep Scotland in the single market even if the UK leaves.

3.58pm BST

Sturgeon says it is 30 years since she joined the SNP.

In all those 30 years, I have never doubted that Scotland will one day become an independent country.

And I believe it today more strongly than I ever have before.

3.56pm BST

Sturgeon says the SNP should lead the way in insisting on respect for others’ views.

Let’s build on that common ground.

Let’s decide that whatever decisions we face in the years ahead, we will take them together - respecting each other every step of the way.

3.55pm BST

Sturgeon says it is important to understand each other’s point of view.

So whatever our disagreements, let us always treat each other with respect.

And let’s work harder to understand each other’s point of view.

3.54pm BST

Sturgeon says there is more that unites the Scots than divides them.

So as we prepare to take the next steps in our nation’s journey - whatever they might be - let us always remember this.

There is more - much more - that unites us as a country than will ever divide us.

3.53pm BST

Sturgeon commits government to increasing funding for primary care.

The NHS of the future must be built on a real shift from acute care to primary and community care.

So the commitment I am announcing today is a landmark one.

3.51pm BST

Sturgeon praises NHS staff “no matter where they were born”.

And she says the NHS must reform.

Over this parliament, we will increase health spending by almost £2 billion.

That’s a necessary commitment but it is not sufficient.

3.50pm BST

Sturgeon gives more details of her care review.

You know, the young people who speak to me make a simple but powerful point.

They say the system feels like it is designed only to stop things happening.

3.49pm BST

Sturgeon says she will review the care system.

Recently, I’ve been spending some time with young people who have grown up in care.

Some of them are here today.

3.47pm BST

Sturgeon turns to the attainment gap. (See 10.42am.)

In our schools, raising the bar for all and closing the attainment gap - opening up opportunity for every child – is the number one priority of my government.

It is my personal defining mission.

3.45pm BST

Sturgeon says the baby box initiative will be launched next year.

In the election, we promised a Baby Box of essential items for all newborns. It’s a policy borrowed from Finland – where it has contributed to one of the lowest levels of child mortality in the world.

So, I am delighted to give you an update on our plans to introduce it here.

3.44pm BST

Sturgeon gives more details of her childcare plans.

First, we will propose that parents can choose a nursery or childminder that best suits their needs and - as long as the provider meets agreed standards - ask the local authority to fund it.

In other words, the funding will follow the child - not the other way round.

3.43pm BST

Sturgeon announces a plan to reform childcare provision.

The most important infrastructure investment of the next few years will be different. It will be childcare.

Over this parliament, we will double the amount of state funded early years education and childcare for all 3 and 4 year olds and for the most disadvantaged 2 year olds.

3.41pm BST

Sturgeon turns to infrastructure.

Inclusive economic growth underpins our entire economic strategy.

The Queensferry Crossing - our new bridge across the Forth - has been our country’s most important infrastructure project in a generation.

3.40pm BST

Sturgeon says the number of living wage employers is being extended.

There are currently over 600 accredited living wage employers in Scotland.

By this time next year, that number will rise to at least 1000.

3.38pm BST

Sturgeon announces plans to extend a scheme exempting some firms from business rates.

We will not just intervene to save jobs. We will also provide help and support for businesses to thrive.

I can confirm today that our small business bonus will be extended.

3.36pm BST

Sturgeon says growing the economy is vital.

But more than ever before, the new Scotland Act means the growth of Scotland’s budget depends on the growth of Scotland’s economy.

Creating jobs, expanding the economy and growing tax revenues - these priorities must be at the centre of everything we do.

3.35pm BST

Sturgeon says her government has made good progress.

Earlier, this week a major European research study reached this conclusion.

On health, on education, on tolerance and on the environment - out of all of the four nations in the UK, Scotland is top.

3.34pm BST

Sturgeon explains her line about inclusion.

Inclusion is the guiding principle for everything we do.

It encapsulates what we stand for as a party and it describes the kind of country we want Scotland to be.

3.34pm BST

Sturgeon turns to policy.

If you remember just one word from my speech today, I want it to be this one.

It begins with an ‘I’.

3.33pm BST

Sturgeon says the SNP are providing the only real opposition at Westminster.

At Westminster, we will continue to provide the strong opposition that Labour is failing to deliver.

In recent months, it hasn’t been Labour asking the hard questions about our place in the single market and the jobs that depend on it - it’s been our Westminster leader, our new deputy leader, Angus Robertson.

3.32pm BST

Sturgeon turns to Labour

And what of Labour?

Well, so lost have they become that they prefer the prospect of years of continuous Tory government at Westminster to self-government for Scotland.

It is inexplicable, I know - but I guess branch offices just don’t have all that much in the way of ambition.

3.31pm BST

Sturgeon condemns the Tory approach to immigration.

Today’s Tories display an ingrained hostility to immigration and offer a stony heart to refugees.

They treat those with disabilities with suspicion.

3.29pm BST

Sturgeon quotes the passaged released overnight about how the battle of ideas is now between the SNP and the hard-right Tories. (See 9.58am.)

The Cameroons have fallen to the Faragistas - and let’s face it, the Cameroons were never very appealing in the first place.


3.27pm BST

Sturgeon says Syrian refugees are welcome in Scotland.

Last month the 1,000th Syrian refugee was welcomed to Scotland.

And they are welcome.

3.26pm BST

Sturgeon turns to Syria.

In the conflicts facing the world today, nuclear weapons are not the answer.

In Syria, up to 400,000 men, women and children have been killed since the conflict started.

3.24pm BST

Sturgeon says the SNP and Labour differ over Trident.

It’s not just attitude which distinguishes the SNP from Labour.

It’s policy and principle too.

3.23pm BST

Sturgeon says Labour became “arrogant on power”.

So our promise - to Glasgow and to all the people of Scotland - is this:

We will never take you for granted.

3.22pm BST

Sturgeon talks about how the SNP is winning power in Glasgow.

In 1985 every constituency in this city, bar one, was held by Labour.

Today, the political landscape is very different.

Let’s work as hard as we ever have to bring the SNP to power.

And then let’s build this city as one of the very best in Europe.

3.19pm BST

Sturgeon turns to how much Scotland has changed.

The SECC - where we meet today - was first opened back in 1985.

It has witnessed quite a few changes in the 30 years since.

3.18pm BST

Nicola Sturgeon says the SNP is meeting five months on from the Scottish parliament election.

It won a third term.

3.17pm BST

Angus Robertson, the new deputy leader (or depute leader, as the SNP call the post), is introducing Nicola Sturgeon.

He says she is a fantastic first minister.

3.09pm BST

The conference is now hearing from Aamer Anwar, the lawyer who represented the family of the murdered Sikh waiter Surjit Singh Chhokar. He says SNP MSPs consistently supporter the family during their 17-year fight for justice.

.@AamerAnwar addresses #snp16 flanked by Chhokar family, thanks party for its 'unrelenting and unconditional support' pic.twitter.com/fpJW0ZrLnx

"The dead cannot cry out for justice. It is a duty of the living to do so for them." @AamerAnwar #SNP16

Chhokar Family & @AamerAnwar receive standing ovation @theSNP for their indefatigability in pursuing justice for Surjit Singh Chhokar #SNP16 pic.twitter.com/4PVbI3PRn8

3.03pm BST

This is from Michael Matheson, the Scottish justice secretary.

View from the stage at #SNP16 pic.twitter.com/xHXCCILKnX

2.59pm BST

Nicola Sturgeon will be starting her speech in about 15 minutes.

2.59pm BST

The results of a set of internal elections have just been announced. Mhairi Black, the 22-year-old SNP, has been elected to the party’s national executive committee.

2.55pm BST

This is from the New Statesman’s Stephen Bush.

Was just chatting about how the odd thing about SNP conference is how normal everyone looks compared to other party's delegates.

2.54pm BST

This is from the BBC’s Philip Sim.

#SNP16 conference hall packed out ahead of @NicolaSturgeon's keynote speech pic.twitter.com/z5tXNNttfT

2.51pm BST

SNP delegates have passed a resolution says the current rule saying gay men have to abstain from sex for a year before they can give blood. It said the rule should be replaced with one based on individual assessments of risk.

2.50pm BST

2.34pm BST

The SNP conference has just passed a resolution saying that the EU’s common fisheries policy is “deeply flawed and does not support a sustainable fishing industry in Scotland”.

2.28pm BST

Outside the conference centre independence supporters have been holding a rally. Here are some pictures.

2.12pm BST

2.11pm BST

The commentator James McEnaney has written an interesting blog on the charitable status for state schools proposal. (See 11.26am and 2.02pm.) He thinks it’s a flawed idea. Here’s an excerpt.

First of all, the taxation burden referred to in the motion is a matter for local authorities, not individual schools, with councils paying business rates on all schools under their control. Charitable status would therefore represent a significant saving for local authorities which could certainly free up more money for education spending. So far so good.

The trouble is that business rates are paid to the Scottish Government which also provides the vast majority of councils’ cash. Charitable status for around 100 private schools costs the Scottish government about £10m a year, so imagine the figure for 2500 state schools.

2.02pm BST

Here is more on the debate earlier on the vote to give charitable status to state schools in Scotland. (See 11.26am.)

Speaking in favour of the resolution Graham Sutherland, a delegate, said:

Many of the wealthiest people in society decide to opt out of state education. By educating their children at private schools they benefit from about £90m of tax breaks annually.

Effectively we have a situation just now where the state subsidises educational segregation and class privilege. The system as it stands also perpetuates educational inequality and that has a knock on effect on child poverty.

The system at the moment means that elitist private schools which serve the rich, the privileged and those that are already advantaged in life’s race enjoy charitable status while state schools serving the wider population, which undoubtedly provide a public benefit, do not.

It is time for state schools to be treated equally with private schools. It is time for our hard-pressed state schools to have this glaring anomaly removed, it’s time for a level playing field for Scotland’s children.

We’re going about this the wrong way round. Remove charitable status for private schools to level the playing field. It’s as simple as that.

A couple of years ago a young lady through the petitions mechanisms through the Scottish parliament lobbied the Scottish government and the Scottish parliament to have charitable status removed.

It was rejected because our Scottish government said there was insufficient evidence for a review of the charitable legislation relating to private schools. I think that’s a disgrace.

1.50pm BST

Fascinating snapshot at a fringe event with Scotland’s largest teaching union The Educational Institute of Scotland and the new (since May) education secretary John Swinney.

Swinney takes the role fresh from his much-praised role negotiating the Scotland Act’s fiscal framework with the UK Treasury.

1.38pm BST

John Swinney, the deputy first minister and education secretary, has been speaking at a fringe meeting, my colleague Libby Brooks reports. He set himself this goal.

John Swinney says he wants to use his next 5 years as ed sec to 'interrupt a pattern' of school failure for poorest children #SNP16

1.06pm BST

Here are some blogs and columns on the SNP conference that are particularly worth reading.

The first minister’s speech was not designed to mollify 3,000 gullible delegates; rather it was a clear message to Theresa May and the country at large: we’ll do all we can to help you achieve a soft Brexit with Europe that respects Scotland’s position, so don’t blame us if it doesn’t happen.

Certainly, no one I spoke to in Glasgow over the last three days thinks the prime minister, in thrall to her party’s scarecrow wing, will come anywhere near meeting Ms Sturgeon’s measure of the worth of any Brexit deal.

The whole party wants Indyref2 to happen—if it is sure it can win. But that is an almighty if. Britain’s leading psephologist, John Curtice, kicked off the discussion [at a Prospect fringe at the conference] by summarising the polling on independence since the Brexit vote, which many nationalists had hoped would steel Scots—who voted to stay in Europe, and now face being dragged out by English votes—to make the split with the UK that they had ducked from making two years ago. Curtice, however, had dispiriting news. Few Scots, he said, cared all that much about Europe, and in fact a significant chunk of SNP voters had actually voted “Leave.” Yes, some people—perhaps one in 10 of all “No” voters in 2014—were now more inclined to vote for independence next time around, but a rather similarly-sized proportion of 2014 “Yes” voters had gone the other way. Either they preferred to be part of a Britain that was out of the EU, or they were increasingly nervous about the economics in the uncertain post-Brexit environment. Put it all together, and Scotland has barely swung at all.

The SNP MP Kirsty Blackman was frank in admitting that here the party faces phenomenal challenges with the sequencing of the referendum, in particular. If it rushed now—to exploit the full shock of the Brexit vote moment and the cross-border division that it revealed—London would be able to pretend that it would deliver all sorts of things from its negotiations with the EU. It might be impossible to secure both border control and single market access at the same time, but London could—for the moment—continue to bluff its way through and insist that it can have the best of all possible worlds, spinning its way through Indyref2 just as the Leavers did in the Brexit campaign. But if Scotland waits until the UK truly knows where it stands before deciding its future, then the UK will actually be out. The SNP would then have to explain how it would negotiate an independent Scotland’s place back in Europe, and would—without special treatment—have to accept both the euro and membership of the Schengen passport-free zone. All of which would greatly complicate the “Yes” side’s pitch.

If the UK government makes an offer to the Scottish government, who will judge whether this is enough to protect Scotland’s interest.

It looks like the final arbiter of that will be the First Minister. Now THAT is a decision.

Trust was a word that ran through every conversation. No one, it seems, trusts Westminster. Everyone trusts Nicola. If, then, she comes back in two years’ time to tell party members she has pulled off a spectacular deal that would allow Scotland to keep their European links but stay in the United Kingdom, they may well have to accept it. But that will not be the end of the story.

12.22pm BST

A short walk across the river Clyde from the main conference hall, the IdeaSpace alternative fringe is still going on.

Despite comparisons to Momentum’s festival at Labour conference, I think it’s fair to say that this fringe is far more complementary rather counter to the main event.

Over the Clyde from #SNP16 at #IdeaSpace @GerryHassan is taking us through the venerable history of SNP leaders pic.twitter.com/gjlqaeXuQJ

12.19pm BST

The resolution on cannabis (see 11.43am) was proposed by Laura Brennan-Whitefield, a party from Ayr North who suffers from multiple sclerosis. Here are extracts from her speech.

My name is Laura and I have been living with multiple sclerosis for nine years. And the fact that I am standing here conference giving a speech means that I am one of the lucky ones.

It has become clear to me that many people living with MS have been using cannabis to help with the symptoms of that condition. In fact, it’s one of the worst kept secrets at the hospital. All of these people risk a criminal record, unlike in Australia, Chile, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, Romania and some US states.

Given that these people who are suffering pain - and I can assure you, those who are willing to use cannabis have in most cases exhausted every other option - is it not unreasonable to criminalise them? I am talking about some of the most vulnerable people in society who may have had the added misfortune of going through the DWP’s inhumane assessment procedure for disability benefits. To be then branded criminals, for trying to have a quality of life?

I know what it is to suffer pain. And, be in no doubt, if it came to it, I would not hesitate to ease that pain in any way I could because that is a natural instinct.

BRILLIANT work by Laura Brennan-Whitefield @laurapoppet at SNP Conference #SNP16 on medicinal #cannabis #EndOurPain pic.twitter.com/rNHKSBTqZw

11.43am BST

Delegates have overwhelmingly backed the resolution saying cannabis should be decriminalised for medical use.

This does not mean this will happen in Scotland because this is a matter for the UK government. The resolution also calls for responsibility for this to be devolved to Edinburgh.

11.35am BST

You can read all the Guardian’s SNP conference coverage here.

And here are four stories from the Scottish papers today about the conference worth noting.

After Ms Sturgeon said it was “inconceivable” that Westminster would block a vote, Downing Street said the 2014 result was “decisive” and it was “vital” it was respected for a generation.

Former SNP justice secretary Kenny MacAskill warned Mrs May might block a referendum, saying she could simply tell the First Minister: “No, you’re not getting it.”

Geoff Aberdein told a fringe event at the SNP conference yesterday that the “laws of political gravity” meant “what goes up must come down”.

A special adviser to the former first minister for four years, then his chief of staff for three, Mr Aberdein is now head of European Public Affairs at Aberdeen Asset Management.

Bobbies’ leader Calum Steele confronted the top Nat with pics from grotty nicks including a grim room for quizzing rape victims.

Mr Steele said: “This should anger us all.”

Wishart, who is chair of the Scottish affairs committee, said he tried to “push boundaries” online in a bid to engage with voters but issued a direct appeal to journalists not to criticise politicians for their posts.

He has previously been praised for his use of his social media site Twitter, which he described as a “crazy, anarchic, no-rules space”, winning last year’s Parliamentary Tweeter of the Year Award. However, he has regularly been criticised for his outspoken social media persona, most recently when he was forced to apologise after comparing Blairites to an “incontinent old relatives”.

11.30am BST

Delegates are now debating a resolution calling upon the UK government to decriminalise cannabis for medical use.

An increasing number of countries now allow this. There is a list of them here.

11.26am BST

Delegates have passed the resolution saying state schools should get the same charitable status for tax purposes as private schools. But it was close, and the chair had to call a card vote. The motion was passed by 464 votes to 455.

Those opposing the resolution were doing so on the grounds that it would be better just to stop private schools having charitable status in the first place. This benefit saved private schools in Scotland from having to pay £10m in business rates, one speaker said.

10.54am BST

In the conference hall delegates have passed a resolution urging the Scottish government to pass a Child Poverty Act. Currently they are debating one saying state schools should get the same charitable status as private schools.

10.42am BST

Derek Mackay, the Scottish finance secretary, was on the Today programme earlier, in the main 8.10 slot being interviewed by Sarah Montague. Before the interview the programme broadcast a package focusing on problems with the Scottish government’s record on education, and in particular on the attainment gap (the difference between what poor pupils achieve and what wealthy pupils achieve). In Scotland pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds are four times less likely to go to university. In England they are 2.4 times less likely to go to university.

We believe that free education is part of the social contract in Scotland and that has encouraged students who would not otherwise have gone to university, who might have been frightened by debt to go. I was from a poorer background. I went to university. And if there were tuition fees in place it would have been very difficult for me to go.

There will be divergence. We are not simply following what the Tory UK government is doing around income tax, for example.

If I produce a budget earlier than the chancellor’s autumn statement, it would be a fantasy budget. It would not be credible.

Morning #SNP16 my day began with an interview with @Sarah_Montague in the BBC camper van, (sorry 'mobile studio) pic.twitter.com/WyBtGwOPdG

10.17am BST

The press room at the SECC is still relatively quiet this morning. In a tweet yesterday Common Space’s Michael Gray said the hall set aside for the journalists here is the one that the entire SNP conference was held in four years ago, before its referendum-inspired membership surge.

Media room at #SNP16 conference. 4 years ago it hosted the full SNP conference. pic.twitter.com/DfOyHqU15w

9.58am BST

Here is another extract from Nicola Sturgeon’s speech released overnight. She says the main battle of ideas in Scottish politics now is between the SNP and the “hard-right Tories”.

It may just be five months since we won the Holyrood election, but in many ways it feels like a political lifetime.

We are in a completely new era:

9.47am BST

You can always tell you’re at the conference of a governing party by the fact that there are protesters outside. People don’t protest against parties on opposition.

On my way into the conference I went past campaigners from the Trade Union and Socialist Coalition protesting against austerity, from Global Justice protesting against Ceta (the EU-Canada free trade deal), from the RMT union protesting against wages paid to non-British seafarers and from NO2NP, the campaign against the Scottish government’s named person scheme. There were only about 20 of them in all, but they were hard to miss.

Few different protests outside #SNP16 today, including a group offering a "ghetto tour" of Govanhill pic.twitter.com/qHsrLjODyg

9.04am BST

Nicola Sturgeon has already delivered her first speech to the Scottish National party’s conference in Glasgow - the one announcing the publication of draft legislation for a second independence referendum - but her main address coming this afternoon. According to the SNP’s overnight briefing, it will contain a “heavy focus on domestic policy initiatives”.

But Brexit is going to feature too. As Severin Carrell and Libby Brooks report in their preview story, Sturgeon is going to announce plans to beef up Scotland’s trade links with the EU - on the grounds that Scotland cannot trust Conservative ministers like Boris Johnson and Liam Fox to represent it. Here is the story.

Related: Nicola Sturgeon plans to strengthen Scotland’s trade links with EU

Make no mistake, the growth of our economy right now is threatened not just by the prospect of losing our place in the single market – disastrous though that would be.

It is also the deeply damaging – and utterly shameful – message that the Tories’ rhetoric about foreign workers is sending.

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