Scottish Independence The Scottish Constitution

The Scottish Constitution

Whatever your views on Scottish independence or when is the right time to hold another vote, no one can deny that the campaign leading up to the independence referendum of September 2014 breathed new life into the nation. Yes and No voters alike passionately argued and debated the pros and cons of independence. Voter participation reached an all-time high and people felt awakened and empowered, often for the first time in their lives.

A majority of Scots think that Scotland will become independent in their lifetimes, so now is the time to plan ahead and start writing a future constitution.This should not be left to the political or lawyer class – it must be done by the sovereign people of Scotland. In many ways, this is the perfect time to do it, rather than later. All around us, we can already see important issues which we might want to change, permanently, in our country of the future.

For example, do we want to enshrine and guarantee the nationalisation of our industries, transport systems, oil revenues or water supply? What about the presence of nuclear weapons on Scottish soil? Should an independent Scotland be officially a neutral country or a continued member of the Western alliance? A parliamentary or a presidential republic – or monarchy? What about the sovereignty of Scottish law over any cross-national trade deals, past or present?

Scotland does, of course, have a written constitution. This is the Declaration of Arbroath, which was an address to the Pope in 1320, affirming not only the independence of Scotland, but the sovereignty of the people. It was for this reason that the ruler was, henceforth, known as the king or queen of Scots, not of Scotland. More than 550 years later, the Declaration of Arbroath influenced and inspired the United States Constitution.

The Declaration of Arbroath was much ahead of its times, declaring in unprecedentedly tolerant language that “there is neither weighing nor distinction of Jew and Greek, Scotsman or Englishman” – all this just thirty years after King Edward I expelled all Jews from England in 1290. So it would be fitting if this revolutionary document could somehow be incorporated into our future Scottish Constitution as a vital link with a great example of Scottish tolerance in the past.

For now, I have published some initial contributions below, with the aim of setting the ball rolling. I invite everyone reading this to contribute ideas and text to a future Scottish Constitution. They will be added to this page which, hopefully, over time, will evolve into a future document which will rank alongside such great historical documents as the Declaration of Arbroath. This is the only way to secure the future of our children and create the better country we all want to see.

Please send all thoughts and entries, no matter how large or small, from a single sentence to entire paragraphs, to This is a private initiative and has no links to any political party or organisation. This is intended to be a public document and a public discussion, which will hopefully provide a blueprint for a future Scottish constitution.

Lesley-Anne: I’d like to take you up on your idea about what our future financial system should be. I don’t know if you read this piece in the National but it did, for me, indicate the perfect way forward for an independent Scotland ... the digital ScotsPound.

The Common Weal are already on board this idea and look like the folks who could lead the way in pushing the Scottish Government to adopt the digital ScotsPound post independence. However, like all great ideas this one will need some pre introduction work to be carried out to ensure that all the little niggles etc that always crop up with new ideas like this are ironed out as soon as possible before going “live” post independence.

I note from the article that the Common Weal have given a series of launch presentations in both Glasgow and Edinburgh as well as one to Holyrood itself. I hope that all the presentations went well. It would be great to hear from Common Weal how they thought the presentations went.

Let’s face it a Digital ScotsPound would, in my view, destroy utterly and completely any argument from Westminster about who the bank of last resort would be.

Andrew Leslie: Any constitution which goes much beyond two pages of A4 is going to be too long.  It should be an absolutely clear statement of the principle of governance, but should avoid binding any government to specifics. All constitutions should be written with a worst case scenario in mind, so that – for example, a 'right to housing' – an attractive concept – might not be so attractive in the context of a bankrupt country struggling to feed itself. The writers of a constitution – unable to see the future – should confine themselves only to the fundamental 'rules' by which a state defines itself. Any constitution too long on detail lends itself to being overthrown or ignored. France – eg – has had at least fifteen constitutions since the 1789 revolution. So writing a constitution that can survive the test of time is a matter of both luck and judgement – but above all of being minimalist at the outset.

What are the most important fundamentals? For me: Freedom of speech, freedom of association, equality in the eyes of the law, access to impartial justice, the right to change a government by democratic means.

Kenny: If we want to get the Scotland we all want, we may even need a completely new political and financial system. Why should Scotland lead the way in so many fields of discover, but not in politics? That means that everyone should get involved in politics and themselves become part of a new political class. We do not want Scotland to be come a miniature version of the country we will have just left behind, do we?

Lesley-Anne: I believe that if the Declaration of Arbroath is good enough for the fledgling U.S.A. to use as a basis in writing their constitution in 1787 then it is certainly good enough for US. In fact my thoughts run along similar lines to the U.S. constitution in so far as we utilise the Declaration of Arbroath as the initial wording and then add a series of amendments, just like in the U.S.A., in such a way as to bring the Declaration of Arbroath into the 21st Century. We must never forget that the Declaration of Arbroath is recognised as being the world’s oldest written constitution and as such WE must ensure that it continues to be recognised as such. By utilising it into an “updated” written constitution is, in my view, the ideal way of doing this.

 yesindyref2: I think a Constitution is a must, and might be the next Referendum campaign in itself. It should be done in such a way to encompass currently undecided, soft NOes and even the hard NOes, as well as YESsers. Something like this (goes off to google Iceland): “Between 2009 and 2013, in the wake of the Kitchenware Revolution Iceland’s constitution was profoundly revised through a ground breaking crowd-sourced process; in 2012 it secured the support of 67% of the population in a non-binding referendum. However, the new constitution has not been enacted by Parliament as yet, and since the Icelandic parliamentary election, 2013 looks unlikely to be” (Wikipedia). I think a lot was done online.

I think the Constitution should be about us, the People, our rights to be Sovereign, our Claim of Right, our right to control our politicians, not the other way around. Our right to Law.

Apart from things like that, I don’t think there should be any politics in it at all. One political party might want nukes, 20% of GDP spent on defence, conscription, tanks at every street corner, armadas threatening the trade routes of the universe while extorting a 10% tariff for safe passage, while another might want neutrality and a defence budget of £10,000 a year, if that, mainly to keep off deranged pirates. The Constitution should be equally applicable to both. For me the right place for politics is Parliament, not Constitution.

As such it would probably be quite small in length, but powerful in impact.

The SNP published a draft Constitution in June 2014 at:

A lot of good stuff, but also party political stuff.

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