SNP is only party delivering progressive government in UK, Swinney says

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Scotland's Deputy First Minister has said his party is the only one "delivering progressive government anywhere in the UK" as the SNP's autumn conference gets under way.

Mr Swinney, speaking ahead of his opening address to the three-day event in Glasgow, said only the SNP is focused on the priorities of the Scottish people.

He said the conference will involve a policy programme addressing areas of public concern such as housing, the economy and public services.

Mr Swinney said: "SNP delegates assemble in Glasgow this week knowing that we have an important job to do for the people of Scotland.

"The SNP is the only party delivering progressive government anywhere in the UK. In recent weeks, our bold and ambitious policy plans have set the agenda in Scotland and been heard around the world.

"We are the only party firmly focused on the priorities of the people of Scotland, protecting Scotland's interests and ensuring Scotland's voice is heard.

"Against the backdrop of Brexit, Labour and the Tories have descended into unprecedented chaos, and amidst the complete abdication of leadership on the key issues of the day the responsibility on the SNP to deliver strong government has never been greater.

"At this week's conference the SNP will build on our new plan for Scotland with a policy programme to address the concerns people care about the most, such as housing, the economy and public services - and we will continue to make the strong case for Scotland to have in our own hands all the powers we need to build an even better country for the future."

His comments follow an eve-of-conference YouGov poll in The Times in which voter intentions for the next Holyrood election indicated the SNP would win but would drop seats and remain a minority government, with the Greens also predicted to lose seats - leaving the parliament without a pro-independence majority.

The poll of 1,135 adults in Scotland suggested Labour would win eight seats to move into second place while the Tories and Liberal Democrats would retain their current numbers.

The SNP said the poll indicated support for the party is higher than at the same point after previous Holyrood elections.

Scottish Labour interim leader Alex Rowley said: "The SNP's ten years in power have been a decade of division.

"The Nationalists' claim to be a progressive government is laughable when they have spent their time in office turning the Scottish Parliament into a conveyor belt for Tory austerity, slashing local authority budgets by £1.5 billion since 2011.

"The only party in Scotland offering a progressive alternative is Labour. We would use the powers of the Parliament to end austerity and build a country that works for the many, not the few."