A personal response by Kenyon Wright

As early as September 2009 I proposed to the (then minority) SNP government that any referendum on independence should have a second question offering “Secure Autonomy”. 

I continue to believe that the will of the people would be most clearly expressed, and the opportunity of the referendum most fully grasped, if there is such a question. 

This should offer Scottish Statehood as autonomy within what would have to be a radically reformed Union.  At the least, this should be part of the debate, and the idea developed and clarified.

Whether independence or autonomy however, it must help Scotland escape from the straitjacket of a constitutional system in decay.  As the General Assembly of the Kirk said in 1989 when it endorsed the Constitutional Convention,  “Any settlement must be built upon philosophical foundations that are more coherent and credible than the notions which underpin the existing British constitution”

This echoes the Report in 1988 of the “Claim of Right” document which saw a Scottish Parliament as “the grit in the oyster”  that might “start the reform of the British Constitution”, as “The British Government is so decayed that there is little hope of it being reformed within the framework of its traditional procedures”

The Convention clearly hoped we were creating a Parliament that would be “radically different from the rituals of Westminster, more participative, more creative, less needlessly confrontational”  

We hoped for “the central institution of a new political and community culture.  A more open democracy need innovative institutions and  attitudes, if our goal of a participative approach is to be achieved”

One thing is now clear.  The Scottish Parliament has had real achievements, but it has failed to create these philosophical foundations, or the basis for a participative rather than a representative democracy.  The increase in its powers does nothing to change that, and indeed simply underlines the supremacy of Westminster in constitutional decisions.

I believe the starting point for our debate – and the 2 years ahead give us time for it – is to spell out clearly these philosophical and constitutional foundations for a Scottish State.  The constitution of such a State needs a Constitution based on these foundations.

As one among many aspects, this means that Scots are citizens, not subjects.

Whether in independence or in autonomy, the shared monarch may be Head of State, but it will be a fully constitutional monarchy in Scotland, with none of the so-called “Royal Prerogatives” which in practice are a major factor in making the UK Prime Minister so powerful, and create what Lord Hailsham once called “an elective dictatorship”.

Kenyon Wright is President of the Constitutional Commission

This Thursday 28th June, a distinguished panel featuring Patrick Harvie, Lesley Riddoch, Elliot Bulmer, Kate Higgins, Sally Foster Fulton, Willie Sullivan and Ross Martinwill hold a discussion on what a future reconstituted Scottish state might look like. 

This event, to be held in the Scottish Parliament in front of an audience of 100 people, will be filmed and a video will be made available to Newsnet Scotland and other outlets a few days later.



# Fourfolksache 2012-06-26 16:11
Anyone interested in the details of Secure Autonomy to which Kenyon refers please see
BTW see the Breaking of Labour ranks on devolution ie
Amazingly reported by the Scotsman - no mention on BBC!
# Cuphook 2012-06-26 19:48
The idea that a devolved Holyrood can protect Scotland from the excesses of Westminster government is a flawed argument. It suggests that Holyrood can act as a prophylactic but, as my dad always points out, condoms are only 97% effective.

As the ConDem government press ahead with plans for the regionalisation of wages and benefits Holyrood is shown to be ineffectual in it's present form. As they plan for the next generation of Trident Scotland can do nothing but be lumbered with the ideological bastard of Westminster Neocon ideology.

Better Together?
# Marga B 2012-06-26 16:20
Mostly OT but a sad day in Catalonia - the right wing party in bilingual regions of Spain is using its absolute majority to oust Catalan, with something like 11 million speakers (more than Danish and Swedish for example and the 8th most-used language on the Internet) from the public space.

Not satisfied with that, in Catalonia with a sovereignist government where they have never ruled, the highly politicised Constitutional Court (well it's the Supreme Court, but much of the same applies) has ruled to break language immersion in Catalan at school. This means the end of bilingualism.

It's nice to think that Scotland can get the chance to write its own constitution and not find itself and its culture at risk from a hostile and alien state.

Let's hope people start to realise their good fortune.
# mealer 2012-06-26 16:29
The unionist cabal have no interest in constitutional change in London or in Scotland.Theyre concentrating their efforts and OUR resources on building more nuclear missiles.

I'm saddened to hear this news from Catalonia.
# Mad Jock McMad 2012-06-26 16:53
I understand the draft SNP constitution for an independent Scotland is based on the fundamental tennet of Scottish Constitutional Practice and Law which is the people of Scotland are sovereign as has been enshrined in Scots Law since the Bruce Parliament of 1328.

That Westminster governance ignores this fundamental truth has been noted and questioned in numerous judgements over the last 50 years.

Most recently the UK Supreme Court obliquely agreed the sovereignty of the Scottish people is paramount in the AXA judgement where it stated the UK Supreme Court could not over turn any bill, statute or other lawful decision of the Scottish Parliament as they were the expressed will of the Scottish people.

Scotland already has a seperate constitutional arrangement with the crown set out in the 1689 Claim of Right, a statute which is still 'in law' at this current time, and is a very different settlement than the one between the crown and the people of England and Wales.

The biggest difference is the crown recognises it 'rules' in Scotland because we, the sovereign people, say so. Hence why the present Queen's correct title in Scotland is Elizabeth, Queen of Scots. She can not be 'Queen of Scotland' because the people (and not the crown) are sovereign.

The people of Scotland can become autonomous for no other reason than the people say so. We do not require Westminster's agreement on the matter. This was the point Lard Forsyth made in opposing the 1998 Scotland Act that for Scotland to be independent all that would be needed is an act in the Scottish Parliament, passed by a majority of one and the Union is ended. A Sword of Damoclese currently hanging over the whole referendum outcome as the SNP have that majority of one.

We need to stop pretending the whole issue is so 'difficult' it is not, it is very simple and that is why Westminster only wants a yes or no referendum. This is because to have fiscal autonomy in the mix means it would have to deliver if that is what the people of Scotland requested in the up coming plebecite - an option supported by around 60% to 70% of Scots in opinion polls.

The reality is 'fiscal autonomy' means an end to Westminster's hegemony because Westminster in its present form has not the scope to deal with confederalism. If Scotland gets fiscal autonomy then the real problems for Westminster begin in dealing with the English regions outside London and the SE who recognise they are being 'short changed' by the centre.

So Westminster is gambling it can scare the Scottish people into voting 'no' but given that in 1952 2 million signatures on a petition were handed into Downing Street asking for Scottish home rule or in 1979 when there was a clear majority of all those who voted, for independence; it seems to me to be a very long odds bet Westminster is banking on.
# Jim Johnston 2012-06-27 06:40
A lovely comment Jock. The more Scots understand they are Sovereign and the Union of Parliaments is the issue, the more comfortable and confident they will be to vote YES.

More comments like this plese Jock, the word is spreading.
# exel 2012-06-27 08:17
Mad Jock McMad 2012-06-26 17:53
“I understand the draft SNP constitution for an independent Scotland is based on the fundamental tennet of Scottish Constitutional Practice and Law which is the people of Scotland are sovereign as has been enshrined in Scots Law since the Bruce Parliament of 1328.”

Absolutely MJM!! “THE PEOPLE OF SCOTLAND ARE SOVEREIGN” not the parliament or the present executive, THE PEOPLE!!
# scottish_skier 2012-06-26 17:55
O/T but MORI Scotland VI out

Holyrood intention (with change relative to May 2011)
SNP 45% (NC)
Lab 32% (NC)
Con 12% (-2%)
Lib 6% (-2%)
Green 2% (NA)
Indy 1% (NA)

5 years into government and SNP still apparently at the same level as the May 11 election. That’s quite impressive; ties in the decent gains made at council elections in last month and what I said about the lower SNP share (relative to Hoylrood) being due to SNP voters voting for independents at council level.

Anyhoo, the unionists claim that the SNP honeymoon period was over seems a little unfounded. SNP may be higher - the demographic on country of origin in this poll was out.



With regard to the above article and the whole devo plus, devo max, indy-lite...

I'm waiting patiently for sovereignty to appear (secure autonomy). Now if Westminster did finally agree to some form of Devo super duper, it would not be to hard for the Scottish government to slip sovereignty in as part of the package. So 70% of Scots vote for Devo Max, but get 'independence' (sovereignty) initially in the form of devo max. After that, well the deal is done and no further referenda are required; Scotland would defacto be independent and would no longer have to 'ask' for powers. It could have something like devo max but still have a seat at the UN for example. DEvo max is simply a bilateral treaty on defence and FR if sovereignty has been achieved.

Or, the proposed independece looks to all intents and purposes just like Devo max but with some bells on (sovereignty).

Both result in the same outcome - sovereignty, which = independence. After that, the world is your oyster.

70% of Scots would vote for sovereignty - that is crucial. Seems much less scary that 'independence' as they latter can't be easily defined in what it looks like. The former can.

And how could unionist parties refuse to agree that Scots have the right to decide the best form of government for themselves?

Has nobody else been wondering why a new claim of right was talked about back in January? Where is it? It will be along in good time - just at the right moment - watch this space.
# oldnat 2012-06-26 18:24
Lab also on the same level as May 2011.

The 2% drop for each of Tory & LD is matched by a 4% rise in "others".
# scottish_skier 2012-06-26 18:48
Yes, corrected. This is constituency vote - I went into my files and pulled up averages for 1st and 2nd prefs for comparison initially.


# Macart 2012-06-27 07:39
Nicely argued skier. :}
# border reiver 2012-06-26 19:21
Kenyon Wright is spot on when he says that the British government is so decayed it is beyond reform, We Scots are a proud people and Camerons endless rhetoric of bashing the poor and most vulnerable in society does not sit well with our principles. No one doubts that reforms of welfare are needed but this needs to be done with compassion and care, not brutal cuts and gloating over who has cut most, which the tories seem to revel in. Cameron yesterday said they will concider pay benefits in kind, which is Tory language is food vouchers for the poor.

# govanite 2012-06-26 20:55
yes, indeed

we should remind Labour voters that this is a redistribution from North to South

any benefit money retained by Westminster is actually a retention of tax which has been paid by Scots to support the welfare system & further, it is money which the receipients will no longer be able to spend in their communities


Damn this 30 minute thing, I'm just catching up - but my view on the previous Thread:
I suspect whatever Bain is doing, he is not including Scotland's Income Tax, Corporation Tax, VAT & Excise duty payments when he calculates benefit costs
# oldnat 2012-06-26 20:05
Better together?

Jersey doesn't seem to agree.


"The island should be prepared to stand up for itself and should be ready to become independent if it were necessary in Jersey's interest to do so."

..... strained relations with the UK over the past five years had made it "very plain" that Jersey's interests were not always aligned with those of Britain.
# macgilleleabhar 2012-06-26 21:55
The Unionists could find themselves fighting on at least two fronts. A North / South "Pincer Movement" ?
# derick fae Yell 2012-06-26 21:30
I would hope that our constitution will find room for a regionally elected Senate of The Regions to both provide a check and balance in a unicameral parliament, and a voice for the regions - e.g. Shetland where I come from and which remains dangerously detached from the developing debate. A Senate is a must. And kudos to the Commission for responding to concerns about the original all male line up of speakers - now made more representative.
# oldnat 2012-06-26 22:12
Agreed about the need for a Senate. Scotland is so geographically diverse, that there is an absolute need for a chamber where the North and South have greater representation than mere numbers of the population would suggest.

The SNP have this one wrong.
# Aucheorn 2012-06-26 22:44
Possibly with the List MSPs making up the Senate.
# KOF 2012-06-26 22:45
I would likewise concur with a "second chamber" of some form. We already have a place for the people of Scotland, we need a place for the land of Scotland, as it were. Unlike normal parliamentary constituency areas where they change as populations change, I'd like to see the "land"/Senate areas be permanent and not change.
Perhaps a piece of "good" permanence in the political system may be refreshing? After all, it's we who change, not the land. The land is always the land.

Slightly O/T, but related to Shetland's perspective on the "debate". I'm sure like some here, I have a map of Scotland on the wall at home. It' there on the wall all the time and I pass it every day. It helps give one a greater knowledge of one's own land at the very least. I still have the map on my wall, except now it's upside down. Up is down and down is up, it's been that way for a while now. It takes a while for the "new" image of Scotland to really get into your brain.
Looking at Scotland from this new viewpoint is most enlightening. It's certainly given me a new perspective about this land. Try it out and see what you think.
# Galen10 2012-06-27 12:33
I'm unconvinced that we need a second chamber at all; quite a number of smaller states in Europe do without a bi-cameral structure.

I don't think the expense is justified, nor do I see the arguments in favour of having a reviewing chamber as outweighing the costs, or the alternative ways to ensure policy and laws are properly scrutinised.

In a relatively small country like Scotland, the reviewing process should be done in committees of the parliament.

If a second chamber does come about however, it should be relatively small, indirectly elected and/or have appointed members / experts representing various interest groups (education, health, legal system, unions, employers etc).
# KOF 2012-06-27 13:18
Quoting Galen10:
If a second chamber does come about however, it should be relatively small, indirectly elected and/or have appointed members / experts representing various interest groups (education, health, legal system, unions, employers etc).

So, a mini version of the House of Lords, then? ;)

I don't think a second chamber should be merely for "reviewing purposes". It's about balance between people and the land. I'm not a political type person, I don't know what the ins and outs of "government" should be. However, I feel there should be some sort of mechanism to deal with this idea of population and geography. Isn't one of the reasons why we desire independence is because of this very reason? If most of the people are all clustered in the one area, then their area will have a bigger voice than other areas which may have a much smaller population. We will still have an imbalance, except it's the North and South of Scotland not Scotland and England.

I'm probably not explaining this very well, sorry. I'm an artist by trade, so words are not my first language. Hopefully readers may get the gist of what I'm trying to say and find a better set of words for it.
# Dundonian West 2012-06-27 16:13
Understand you loud and clear! You're putting yourself down.----YES your point about disparities between these often forgotten parts of Scotland is valid.
The Scottish Government is aware of this,and within it's present narrow powers is doing it's best to address these centuries long issues,while remaining within the Budget handed from Westminster.
# Galen10 2012-06-27 16:19
I do get you gist, yes. As I said I think a second chamber would be pointless as plenty of other comparable states do without one, but if it is the "will of the people" to have one (which I find hard to beleive it will be!), I think it is important that it be elected on a different basis, otherwise there will always be questions about which chamber dominates.

"Most" other upper chambers in smaller countries adopt some form of indirect election, with or without appointed members... and that approach seems to me to have some merit, particularly if the appointed members are NOT in the gift of political parties/ elites.

I would obviously NOT be in favour of a Scottish House of Lords. I think a second chamber with members from each county, topped up with appointed/ co-opted "experts in their field" could be an option.... as long as bishops and the religious are firmly excluded!! ;)
# KOF 2012-06-27 19:02
Cheers Galen and Dundonian for the understanding of the gist. :)

I like you am not infavour of a "Hoose o'Lairds" either. *shivers at the thought* Some form of "mechanism" to equalise the lop sided nature of population density in Scotland would be needed, but as we all know we have to win the YES vote first. It's all academic till then.
YES is on first, WHAT is on second and HOW is on third, as it were. :)
# UpSpake 2012-06-27 07:33
England/UK can never reform by itself. It will take a break away Scotland to show those in the other place just how government can be excercised freed from the centuries old traditions that suffocate Westminster.
Scotland within months of independence will soar away from moribund England in almost every facet of activity.
England will smirk and then react badly to our independent counry. Evidence of their bitterness is all around at the moment.
After the Olympics and our summer of Britishness, what then ?. How then will England attempt to force this alien concept down our throats ?. Via the BBC perhaps ?.
# Galen10 2012-06-27 13:25
I'm increasingly convinced that discussions like those advocated by Kenyon Wright, however necessary, are in fact a distraction from the matter in hand. Worse, they risk diverting energy into a debate which should by rights be had AFTER the goal of independence is achieved.

Only once an independent Scotland is achieved can the sovereign people make an informed and rational choice about what the minutiae of our constitution should involve.

Fix your eyes on the goal, not on having every "i" dotted and "t" crossed! No body, whether the SNP, the Convention or the current devolved government has the constiution in it's gift

It is for the Scottish people to decide, and that decision will be taken in the fundamentally changed environment of a sovereign, independent Scotland.
# Fourfolksache 2012-06-27 18:49
Galen 10 I think you are missing the point. Offering a constitution tells everyone it is not a one party SNP state it has a defined democracy and it will have to be approved by referendum.
You and I know we are not trying to create a Mugabe state but the BBC and MSM keep telling the voters that!
Plus the BritNats could never support it. You don't have to put in every last detail - that's why the Yanks left that for amendments later!
# Galen10 2012-06-28 07:53
The $64,000 question there is who is doing the offering! Hammering out a constitution is a job for either a constitutional convention convened specifically for that purpose, or for a (newly) elected Scottish parliament post independence to vote on after it has been given a democratic mandate by the people.

Offering a constition now begs the question of what legitimacy the draft constitution would have. If it is approved by the current Scottish government it will be seen as the creature of the SNP. If it is drafted by civic groups or a self appointed Constitutional Convention it will lack a democratic mandate.

The job of independistas over the next 2 years is not to get bogged down in esoteric arguments about the future constitution, it is to deliver a yes vote in 2014.

Every opportunity should be taken to highlight the differences between Unionist "jam tomorrow", and the promise of a progressive independent Scotland.

Persuading the vital third of undecided voters to chose "yes" in 2014 has to be the focus of the next 2 years, and you aren't going to do that by diverting effort to arguing the toss over what should or shouldn't be in the constitution.

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