The First Minister will launch the SNP’s general election manifesto in Perth on Tuesday with the party in danger of losing up to 15 seats to the resurgent Scottish Conservatives.
In response to this pressure, Ms Sturgeon has promised to unveil “credible” plans to raise an extra £118bn for public spending across the UK over the next five years.
However, opponents said the manifesto – which was delayed in the wake of the Manchester bombing – showed the SNP was preparing for a “high tax allegiance with Labour to make Jeremy Corbyn prime minister”.
It also comes as a devastating new analysis reveals the Scottish Government has failed to achieve six of its nine economic targets it promised to meet within a decade when the SNP first came to power in 2007.
Nicola Sturgeon will launch the SNP's general election manifesto on Tuesday
Both the Conservatives and Labour economic plans at this election have unravelled already under scrutiny from the IFS, which has confirmed that a vote for the Tories is a vote for more cuts
Details of the SNP’s spending proposals emerged after the Institute for Fiscal Studies think tank said Theresa May’s manifesto would result in “big cuts” to public services.
The IFS was also scathing about Labour’s proposed tax hikes for top earners, saying they would not raise “anything like” the £50bn required.
Both main UK parties, according to the IFS, are not presenting an “honest set of choices” to the electorate.
Ms Sturgeon said: “Both the Conservatives and Labour economic plans at this election have unravelled already under scrutiny from the IFS, which has confirmed that a vote for the Tories is a vote for more cuts.
Sturgeon said the SNP manifesto will set out a clear alternative to continued Tory austerity
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“The SNP manifesto will set out a clear alternative to continued Tory austerity – and the unnecessary, ideological, and self-defeating cuts that have held back the economy, damaged public services and hammered millions by squeezing family budgets.
“We will not follow the Tories in their blind pursuit of a pre-election surplus to spend in five years’ time, or Labour in their reckless plans to hike taxes without knowing if they will secure any additional revenue.
“The SNP will put forward a responsible and credible fiscal plan that will free up an additional £118bn of public investment to grow the economy, safeguard our public services, protect household incomes and put the UK’s finances back on a stable footing.
“If that money was rightly spent on public services and supporting low paid households, it could inject a further £10bn over the next parliament into spending in Scotland.”
The SNP said its fiscal plan would aim to balance the UK budget by 2022, stabilise net borrowing at the level it was at before the financial crash and see debt begin to fall as a share of GDP from 2019.
The SNP said its fiscal plan would aim to balance the UK budget by 2022
However, a party spokesman declined to offer any further details of how this would be achieved, and opponents said the only option was to introduce “massive” tax increases on both sides of the Border.
Scottish Tory shadow finance secretary Murdo Fraser said: “The Nationalists are trying to dictate to the electorate of the very United Kingdom that they want to break up.
“It’s all very well saying they’d raise billions, but they don’t seem to know how. The only way would be to massively increase taxes on hardworking people.
“That suggests the SNP is preparing a high-tax allegiance with Labour to make Jeremy Corbyn prime minister.”
The manifesto is expected to include a major pledge on education spending in the wake of a series of disastrous school performance results in Scotland.
Visiting the East Dunbartonshire constituency yesterday, Ms Sturgeon said: “Young people are our future – the most valuable resource we have – and it’s important that we create the best opportunities for them to get ahead in life and to achieve their potential.”
The SNP will also back reversing the removal of Child Tax Credits clauses, the restoration of housing support for 18 to 21 year olds across the UK, and lowering the voting age to 16 in all elections.
However, the Nationalists have also been accused of “abject failure” after six of the nine economic targets the party aimed to achieve by this year were missed.
In 2007, Alex Salmond’s incoming administration made a series of bold predictions about how the country would look after a decade of Nationalist rule.
These included the claim every household would be £10,000 richer and the promise to increase healthy life expectancy – both of which have not been achieved.
John Lamont, the Scottish Conservative candidate for Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk, said: “Many of these aspirations were dismissed as ludicrous at the time. Now that has played out, the SNP should explain these numerous failures. This is a Nationalist government which constantly promises the world. Yet, increasingly, it fails abjectly to deliver for the people of Scotland.”
The first target was “to raise the GDP growth rate to the same level as the rest of the UK by 2011”.
At the end of 2011, Scotland’s GDP growth stood at 1.0 per cent compared to 1.3 per cent in the UK, and by the end of 2016 growth was just 0.4 per cent compared to 1.8 per cent in the UK.
The second was “to match the GDP growth rate of the small independent EU countries by 2017”.
But GDP growth in the ‘Small EU’ group – made up of Austria, Denmark, Finland, Ireland, Luxembourg, Portugal and Sweden – stood at 2.4 per cent at the end of 2016.
Nicola Sturgeon's comical moments on the campaign trail Mon, May 22, 2017 PA 1 of 13
SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon stops for an ice cream after making an election campaign visit to Scottish Gas HQ in Granton, Edinburgh
The third target was “to rank in the top quartile for productivity against our key trading partners in the OECD by 2017”, which has also been missed.
Although Scotland has risen from 18th place to 16th in the world productivity table for GDP per hours worked, it remains in the second of four groups.
Maintaining Scotland’s “position on labour market participation as the top performing country in the UK” was the fourth target.
However, England’s employment rate moved ahead of Scotland’s in January 2016 and currently stands at 75.2 per cent compared to 74 per cent.
The fifth target was “to close the gap with the top five OECD economies by 2017” and this one has been achieved.
According to the OECD, the Netherlands had the fifth highest employment rate at the end of 2016 with 75.2 per cent – 1.2 percentage points ahead of Scotland.
In 2007, Scotland was 2.6 percentage points behind New Zealand in fifth place.
The sixth target “to match average European (EU15) population growth over the period from 2007 to 2017” has also been achieved, with Scotland’s population growth outstripping the established EU member states in all but two of the past 10 years.
The SNP will back reversing the removal of Child Tax Credits clauses
However, perhaps the most shocking failure is associated with the target for “increased healthy life expectancy in Scotland over the period from 2007 to 2017”.
Healthy life expectancy – the time people can expect to spend in good health – stood at 61.2 years in 2008, when a new method for calculating this was introduced, but by 2015 it had slipped to 61.1 years.
The target “to increase overall income and reduce income inequality by 2017” has been achieved, with total household income up from £67.3billion to £90.2bn and income inequality also down on 2007.
Finally, the ninth target “to narrow the gap in participation between Scotland’s best and worst performing regions by 2017” has also been achieved. In 2007, the gap was 16.1 per cent and in 2016 it was 15.6 per cent.