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by Liam Kirkaldy
28 March 2015
Sturgeon to reach out to English left

Sturgeon to reach out to English left

Nicola Sturgeon will use her conference speech later today to send a message of “friendship and solidarity” to voters opposed to austerity across the UK.

Sturgeon addressed Labour voters in parts of her 2014 conference speech, and seems set to take a similar strategy this year by reaching out to people in England and Wales who are frustrated by perceived Westminster failings.

The First Minister is expected to say: “To ordinary people across these islands who feel just as let down by the out of touch Westminster system as we do, I have a very clear message. It is a message of friendship and solidarity.

“As long as Scotland remains part of the Westminster system, we will be your allies in seeking to shake up and reform that outdated and discredited system once and for all.

“Westminster needs to change. To be more responsive to the needs and demands of ordinary people, wherever they are in the UK. So to people in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, I make this promise.  The SNP stands ready to work with you in making that positive change.

“We will pursue policies that will win support from, and make life better for, people in every part of these islands. We will demand an alternative to slash and burn austerity.

“Responsible deficit reduction, yes - but cuts that tear at the very fabric of our society, penalise the poor, threaten our public services and stifle economic growth, let me make it crystal clear - those will not be in our name.”

Sturgeon is also expected to announce plans to expand eligibility for the Educational Maintenance Allowance scheme to encompass a further 10,000 pupils in a bid to tackle the attainment gap. Part time college students will also be eligible for the first time.

Highlighting how the Scottish Government’s approach has differed to that of the UK, Sturgeon will tell conference: “Currently, Educational Maintenance Allowances help 35,000 young people stay in education. Today, I can confirm that the Scottish Government will extend that scheme so that it benefits even more young people.

“Firstly, we will raise the eligibility threshold to make payments available to an additional 10,000 school pupils. And, secondly, we will extend the scheme to part time college students, helping an additional 12,000 young people stay on in education.

“That means from the next year, a total of 57,000 16 to 19 years old will be entitled to receive an Educational Maintenance Allowance. That is real help for the young people who need it most to stay in education and fulfil their potential.”

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Read the most recent article written by Liam Kirkaldy - Sketch: If the Queen won’t do it, it’ll just have to be Matt Hancock.

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