IAN Blackford MP will say that the SNP will keep their election manifesto promise to hold a second independence referendum as he addresses his party’s conference today.

The SNP Westminster leader will argue that independence is the only way to keep Scotland safe from Tory cuts and secure a fair, green and European future when he addresses the second day of the event.

Blackford’s speech comes months after his party won a record fourth term in government in Edinburgh after standing on a manifesto commitment to hold a second referendum in the current parliament on the condition the pandemic has passed.

The party has since signed a co-operation deal with the Scottish Greens in Holyrood which saw the smaller Yes party’s leaders Patrick Harvie and Lorna Slater become junior ministers in Nicola Sturgeon’s government.

Blackford will step up his party’s warning that the UK Government is threatening Scotland’s recovery with political choices that are harming the economy, pushing people into poverty – and increasingly out of step with Scotland’s values.

He will compare the Tory choices to impose £1040 Universal Credit cuts on six million families, a national insurance tax hike that will penalise the low paid, and the long-term damage of a hard Brexit with the SNP government’s priorities of tackling poverty and building a fairer and greener society.

Addressing delegates from the Isle of Skye, Blackford will say: “The SNP agreement with the Green Party means that, since devolution, almost every major party has been part of the Scottish Government.

“It tells you all you need to know that the only party that hasn’t are the Tories. Because Westminster’s choices are not Scotland’s choices. All this time, we have been on a different path.

“The Scottish people have put their trust in different parties, made different political choices and ensured that different values are at the heart of governments in Scotland. That’s not a new normal – it is now the calm constant of Scottish politics.”

He will add: “In our landslide election victory in May, the SNP made the commitment that our immediate priority is to steer people safely through Covid and to kickstart the recovery.

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“That is the promise we made and we will stay true to our word. But we made another democratic promise too.

“When the crisis of the pandemic has passed, Scotland’s people will have the right to choose our own future – an independent future.

“It is a manifesto promise we made to the Scottish people – it is a democratic promise we will keep. That coming referendum will define and decide our recovery, our choices and our future.

“Now is the moment to renew our case, win the argument and then decide our future. A future that is fair, green and European. Scotland – an independent nation that we can all be part of, and all be proud of.”

Blackford’s speech comes days after the First Minister revealed that civil servants were now restarting on a new prospectus for independence that was paused at the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

She revealed the development in her Programme for Government statement to Holyrood where she recommitted to holding a referendum in the first half of the parliament – by the end of 2023 – so long as the pandemic is over.

Asked on the BBC how to define the caveat, the First Minister said: “That we’re not in the teeth of a Covid crisis as I would consider we are right now, with cases still putting pressure on our national health.”

The National: First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon during a visit to a mock theatre set up with innovative new medical equipment including robotic surgery devices for the launch of the NHS recovery plan at the Golden Jubilee National Hospital in Clydebank, near

She added that it wasn’t about “the safety of polling stations” but about “people having the ability to properly focus on and consider a big decision about whether or not Scotland should become independent”.

Among the motions passed at conference yesterday was one on the party’s social justice and fairness commission.

The commission, chaired by former health secretary Shona Robison, was set up to advance how an independent Scotland could help combat poverty. It included proposals for a universal basic income which the UK Government has opposed.

Resolutions to be debated today include several on climate change, which is another key theme of the event ahead of the UN COP26 being held in Glasgow in November.

Deputy First Minister John Swinney will also address the conference today, with the First Minister making the closing speech on Monday.