NEXT year's Holyrood election is a "once in a generation" chance to win an "unequivocal" mandate for a second independence referendum, the SNP Finance Secretary has said.

Kate Forbes told the SNP's annual conference that polls show "a clear majority of people" now support independence. 

It comes after Nicola Sturgeon said she wanted to hold another referendum "in the earlier rather than the later part" of the next parliamentary term. 

The SNP hope the UK Government's opposition to another vote will become unsustainable if the party wins a majority in May.

Ms Forbes said the Scottish budget "shouldn't be subject to the disinterested whims of a distant Tory Government". 

She added: "But that risk will always be there until independence, and that's why the election in a matter of months is so absolutely essential.

"A once in a generation vote, you might say. 

"It will give us the opportunity to put our record before the Scottish people for their endorsement. 

"It will give us the opportunity to present them with our vision for a country.

"How we build a better economy that doesn't leave people on the breadline.

"How to take decisive steps towards net zero while strengthening our public services. 

"How to deliver a national care service and back our young people to have the skills they need to live up to their potential and ensure that we as a country can live up to ours. 

"And crucially, it will give us the opportunity to put before the people the opportunity to win a renewed, unequivocal, unavoidable mandate for an independence referendum. 

"I have never been so convinced of Scotland's need for independence, and as poll after poll after poll shows, that view is now shared by a clear majority of people in Scotland."