NICOLA Sturgeon will today plead with her supporters not to play a “game of chance” with the Scottish Parliament's electoral system as she launches what she claims is the most ambitious Holyrood manifesto ever.

The First Minister will unveil new anti-poverty measures, spending commitments for the NHS and tell her voters, some of whom are tempted to back another party with their second ballot, that the May 5 election is solely about which party should form the next government.

The intervention comes with The Scottish Greens, RISE and Solidarity vying to convince those who back Ms Sturgeon, who is an overwhelming favourite to claim another majority, to ignore her ‘both votes SNP’ message and support them with their regional vote in a bid to increase diversity in Holyrood and ensure a maximum number of pro-independence MSPs.

Read more: Nicola Sturgeon - My pitch to the people of Scotland

John Curtice, the UK’s leading polling expert, said at the weekend that pro-independence supporters may be wise to split their vote, with the SNP predicted to dominate constituencies meaning it is likely to pick up only a small handful of regional seats under Holyrood’s hybrid electoral system.

Ms Sturgeon, who will today unveil her manifesto to an audience of 1,400 at the Edinburgh’s EICC, is expected to say: "The decision voters will take in just 14 days time is a simple one - who should form the next government of Scotland and who should be the next First Minister.

"That is what this election is about. It is not a phoney battle for second place or a game of chance with the electoral system - it is about choosing a government and a First Minister to lead the country forward for the next five years and into a new decade.

"The job of the government and First Minister elected on May 5 will be to stand up for Scotland at every turn, make our public services fit for the future, grow our economy and create opportunity for every child regardless of their background."


The SNP will unveil new measures aimed at combating poverty, while over the next parliament, Ms Sturgeon will promise to increase investment in the NHS by £500m more than inflation.

Speaking at the STUC conference yesterday, the First Minister said that the SNP would accept in full the recommendations of her poverty advisor, who issued a report in January.

She said she would use new powers to implement the socio-economic duty, a measure passed in the dying days of Gordon Brown's Labour administration at Westminster but never implemented by The Tories, which places an obligation on public bodies to test their policies against their impact on reducing inequality.

Read more: Nicola Sturgeon vows to get tough with council bosses over pay equality for women

The measure could see a debate re-open over whether universal entitlements championed by the SNP, such as free prescriptions and tuition fees, are a more effective way of spending cash than directing resources solely at those in most need.

The SNP leader, who avoided protestors against cuts and privatisation at the Dundee event by entering by a side door but received a relatively warm reception in the conference hall, said her manifesto would "set out an ambitious, transforming and reforming plan for government."


She added: "It will set out how we will tackle the poverty that affects too many of our children from the day they are born.

"Our focus will be on tackling the root causes of poverty and deprivation, not just on mitigating the cuts imposed by Westminster."

Kezia Dugdale, the Scottish Labour leader, had already pledged to implement the recommendations of Ms Sturgeon's poverty advisor, Naomi Eisenstadt, in full. One of her findings, that the Scottish Government should be 'bold on local tax reform', appeared to have already been ditched by Ms Sturgeon after her proposals were widely criticised as being timid. However, the SNP claims it has moved to end the council tax freeze and increase support to low income families, in line with her recommendations.

The SNP leader also unveiled pledges to reform welfare using new powers destined for Holyrood and change the law to allow public sector bodies to bid for the Scotrail franchise.

Read more: Second referendum only if MOST Scots want it, Nicola Sturgeon confirms

Willie Rennie, the Scottish Liberal Democrat leader, claimed following the speech that Ms Sturgeon was "frozen to the spot" on issues including income tax, local tax and education.

He added: "By refusing to be bold on local taxation and by refusing to use income tax powers to make a transformational investment in education, they are not offering an alternative to austerity.

"They are pretending their hands are tied, preferring to point a finger down the road to Westminster instead of using the new powers coming to Holyrood they’ve spent decades campaigning for."