The SNP are set to launch their spring conference by declaring that Scotland is at a “hugely important crossroads”.
Delegates will gather in Aberdeen just 24 hours after the Scottish and UK governments clashed over a second independence referendum.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has insisted that a referendum should go ahead on her timescale.
It followed Prime Minister Theresa May rejecting calls for a second independence vote before Brexit.
Ahead of the two-day conference, deputy first minister John Swinney said the contrast between the SNP and the Conservatives “could not be starker”.
He accused the Conservative government of being “committed to cuts and ignoring Scotland’s voice”.
And he contrasted that to what he said was “the inclusive approach of the SNP working every day to build a better country”.
The conference comes less than two months before the Scottish council elections.
Mr Swinney said: “The SNP conference is meeting at a time when Scotland is approaching a hugely important crossroads – we didn’t ask to be here but we know that at stake is the kind of country we want to be.
“The contrast between the SNP government and the Tory Westminster government could not be starker.
“In Scotland we’re giving taxpayers the best deal in the UK and investing in public services, while the Tories want to give a big tax cut to the richest and cut frontline services for everyone else.
“The SNP government has made clear we will do whatever we can to protect the tolerant, inclusive and prosperous Scotland that is so important to us.
“We have made clear that before people make a choice on Scotland’s future we will set out the challenges and opportunities of independence.
“People should not be denied the right to choose and allow a hard Brexit to be imposed on Scotland against our will.”
‘Investing in communities’
Mr Swinney said the conference, which will be attended by 2,500 delegates, would “underline our party’s top priorities of education, the economy and our public services”.
He said: “The choice facing voters this May is between SNP-led councils investing in communities and local services, or Tories putting cuts before all else – propped up by the Labour party.
“Every SNP vote will be a vote to protect these vital services we all depend on. All our candidates are dedicated local campaigners and believe passionately in protecting local services from these Tory cuts.
“The SNP is standing up for Scotland – will always stand up for Scotland – and will work every day to build a better country.”
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