THE SNP’s Holyrood manifesto will not commit the party to holding a second referendum in the next parliament, Nicola Sturgeon confirms today.

Instead, the document, published on Wednesday, will say the SNP believes the “Scottish Parliament should have the right to hold another referendum if there is clear and sustained evidence that independence has become the preferred option” of most Scots - or if there is a “material change in the circumstances” since 2014, such as Brexit against Scotland’s wishes.

It is the first time since 1999 that an SNP manifesto for Holyrood has omitted a clear-cut pledge and timetable for a referendum, meaning the SNP may struggle to claim a mandate if it does try to hold another before 2021.

Writing in the Sunday Herald, in words used in the manifesto, Sturgeon says her party still believes passionately in independence as the best future for Scotland, but admits it will only happen when the mood of the country supports it, not simply because the SNP are in power.

“In the next parliament, we will work hard to persuade a majority of the Scottish people that being an independent country is the best option for our country. We will listen to the concerns of people who voted No in 2014 and seek to address them.”

Trying to move the debate away from other parties' jockeying for second place, she adds: “This election is not about who should be the opposition - it is about who should govern for the next five years. We will put forward a clear plan for a third term government and I will ask voters to give me a personal mandate as First Minister to get on with the job of implementing it.”

On the campaign trail yesterday, Kezia Dugdale said Scottish Labour’s priorities would be “tax the rich, invest in education to grow the economy and stop the cuts to public services”.

She also pledged to use £40m coming to Scotland from the new UK sugar tax to invest in after-school sports clubs, making them community hubs for health and fitness.