NICOLA Sturgeon has been accused of “breath-taking arrogance” after suggesting the SNP will be in power for another decade.

Closing her party conference today, the First Minister will tell activists to take pride in the SNP’s first decade in office and say: “Our focus now is on the next ten years and beyond.”

Ms Sturgeon will also use her keynote speech in Glasgow to make the case for independence, saying it is time to “put Scotland in the driving seat”.

She will commit the Scottish Government to spending £840m a year on free childcare by the end of the parliament in order to double the hours to 30 per week.

The speech is intended to pitch the SNP as the party of the future, despite losing a third of its MPs in June and polling suggesting it will also go backwards at the 2021 Holyrood election.

After telling the BBC on Sunday it needed “a reality check” for asking if she would apologise for the SNP falling from 56 to 35 seats in June, Ms Sturgeon yesterday said sorry.

She told ITV Border: “I’m sorry for every seat we lost. Any party leader in any election will always be sorry for losing seats.”

But she said she would not apologise for having 35 MPs compared to the six she inherited as leader in 2014.

In her speech, Ms Sturgeon will say unprecedented technological change poses “generational” challenges requiring “transformational” responses, including independence.

She will say: “We know that Scotland does better when decisions are taken here in Scotland.

“So as we look ahead we face a choice: We can trail in the wake of the change that is coming - or we can choose to shape our own future.

“Let’s not wait for others to decide for us. Let’s put Scotland in the driving seat.”

She will add: “Over the past ten years, we have led the way. We should be proud of what we achieved. Our focus now is on the next ten years and beyond.”

The SNP will have been in power 14 years by the next Holyrood election in 2021 and would have to win both that and the 2025 election to achieve two decades in power.

Ms Sturgeon will also try to silence those sceptical of the SNP’s flagship policy of doubling free childcare for all three and four year olds and vulnerable two year olds by 2020.

She will say: “Right now, we invest around £420m a year in early years education and childcare. I can announce that by the end of this Parliament that will rise to £840m a year.

“This is a commitment unmatched anywhere else in the UK.”

Jackson Carlaw, deputy leader of the Scottish Tories, said: “What Nicola Sturgeon seems to forget is she’s already had more than 10 years in power to do all the things she speaks of.

“The SNP is on a slippery slope, and it’s unlikely the electorate will grant her another decade.

“Perhaps if she’d spent more time on the day job, and less time trying to break up Britain, some of this so-called vision would already have been achieved. Her presumption that she’ll be in power for 10 years is breath-taking arrogance, and the voters will see it that way too.”

Interim Scottish Labour leader Alex Rowley said: Even for Nicola Sturgeon, this is arrogant beyond belief. The SNP has lost almost half of its MPs - and Labour is in touching distance of winning many more seats. Nicola Sturgeon is out of ideas and running out of time."

LibDem MSP Alex Cole-Hamilton added: “With arrogant comments like this, it's no surprise that people are getting tired of the SNP and their broken promises.”