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By Mark McNaught
 
As a teacher of United States constitutional law, I am often confronted with the profound shortcomings of the 1789 document in the modern era. When ratified, it was an ingenious and innovative distillation of pre-existing constitutional principles, which provided a means of coordination among the states to solve large-scale problems such as trade and collective defence.

While it has endured for some 223 years, the modern era has presented problems which the founders could not possibly have envisioned, and which XVIII century jurisprudence is woefully ill-equipped to deal with. Corporate corruption is endemic, politics is marketed like soap, elections are bought, and voting rights in many states are being curtailed.

The modern United Kingdom too, lives under archaic constitutional arrangements, ill adapted to deal with the needs of the populace. The faded notion of Parliamentary sovereignty with an unwritten constitution continues to allow for rights to be statutory rather than guaranteed, and for power to be granted to regional parliaments then taken away.

The Leveson commission is vividly illustrating how these inchoate constitutional arrangements can allow for endemic corruption to set in to governing institutions. The rules for governing, such as they exist, are often written to ensconce power of those who detain it, rather than to democratically share it.

Scotland, being governed within the UK for over 300 years, has no modern experience with fair and effective written constitutional government. Therefore it is perhaps not surprising, yet with a bit of frustration that I observe a lack of appreciation on the part of many Scots for the historic opportunity that is presented by the independence referendum of 2014, regardless of their political affiliation.

If done judiciously, Scotland could adopt a written constitution second to none in terms of guaranteeing democratic accountability, individual rights and liberties, equality before the law, and against corporate corruption. There are many lessons to be learned through the study of constitutions and governing systems throughout the world as to what works and what doesn’t, which could be adapted to modern Scotland to produce a constitution which preserves the many admirable political qualities possessed by the Scots, such as a genuine egalitarianism, while instituting mechanisms which could cure ills in the future, like religious sectarianism. 

If properly framed, a written constitution could provide for a fair governing system which could benefit all parties, and not be perceived as a vehicle for keeping one party in power. Governing procedure could also be designed to be adaptable to the needs of the moment, without losing a democratic and egalitarian character.

I truly believe that Scotland, as a relatively small state, could potentially come closer to a pure democratic ideal than any other country in history. In fact, this is the only way it could possibly work in the long term.

It is understandable to a degree that most of the Labour and Conservative party members are currently against independence, and thus have their heads deep in the sand regarding how a written constitution could help their cause. Yes, Scottish independence could lead to no more of their members in the Westminster Parliament.  While comprehensible, their reticence to constructively engage could prove disastrous for them were independence to be achieved, and constitute a missed opportunity.

For Labour, a written constitution could enshrine union rights and collective bargaining, and an utterly level playing field for resolving conflicts with management, if that is still what they stand for.  For Conservatives, it could protect Scottish culture and heritage, the market nature of the private economy, and other priorities.  Regardless of their position on independence, they should seriously consider entering a dialogue on the content of a constitution in the event that ‘yes’ prevails.

It is in this spirit that we at www.constitutionalcommission.org seek to broaden the dialogue on the possibilities of a written constitution, whatever your political persuasion. Scots must recognize what a golden opportunity independence could afford, if it is done with a sense of equanimity, justice, and fairness for all.

The raw material exists.  Scots are by and large intelligent, egalitarian, charitable, and fiercely independent.  A well-framed written constitution will enshrine and guarantee these values within their governing structures to be passed down through generations. 

All Scots deserve nothing less.


Mark McNaught is an Associate Professor of US civilisation at the University of Rennes 2 France, and teaches US constitutional law at Sciences-Po Paris.

Comments  

 
# cardrossian 2012-07-30 06:37
Mark McNaught is not up to date with Scots thinking! The Scottish Democratic Alliance has been working on a written consitution for some time, and it is close to completion. Such a document, and the need for it, is a central plank of the SDA's thinking. Simply contact the SDA if you want to know more.
 
 
# trewern 2012-07-30 06:37
I very rarely comment on articles,leavin g that to more politically minded individuals.On this occasion I feel that the author of this article has hit the nail on the head.
The SNP must come up with a written constitution on the grounds of the authors recommendations and persuading the unionist party's to cooperate would indeed be a fair way to give all party and non party members something they could embrace.
 
 
# EphemeralDeception 2012-08-02 22:45
.I emphasize with this comment and indeed why leave this to the politically minded?

The SNP are a political cause but as stated do not have a monopoly on wisdom neither on mandate.

However their compass works pretty well compared to my own direction of travel.
 
 
# UpSpake 2012-07-30 07:10
Well Mr. McNaught, it is not for naught that many people have been engaged in drafting a Constitution for Scotland to be completed to consultative stage, long before a referendum vote.
It is simply not enough to anticipate the prospect of becoming independent without any foreknowledge of what constitutionall y the role of the state and the citizen within it should be.
Of-course there are many countries in the world who operate various forms of written constitution and not all are perfeect by any means. But better a flawed document than none at all as we currently have within the collapsing UK.
The very best of the best can and will be the constitution offered to the Scots people by the Constitutional Commission from submissions taken from many interested groups.
When Scotland adopts a modern codieied and detailed constitution it will create clear blue water between itself and whatever remains of the UK thereafter.
In fact, the very best thing that can happen to England is for Scotland supported by its written constitution and FULLY independent to show it the way forward for the whole rotten core of the UK establishment is so stuck in the past that it is institutionally incapable of change unless it is forced upon it.
That force could be envy from the english population seeing Scotland move forward and away from the Westminster model of so called democracy !.
 
 
# snowthistle 2012-07-30 12:54
The SNP also have a draft written constitution ready which Elliot Bulmer recently praised on Newsnight Scotland
 
 
# Macart 2012-07-30 13:29
Very much so snowthistle. On the link I have supplied below there is also an SNP constitutional proposal from 97 in which the SNP states "A written constitution will be incorporated in the independence settlement to be placed before the Scottish people in a referendum".

There is, I believe, a white paper on independence due out next year detailing the full independence proposal for the electorate.
 
 
# Leswil 2012-07-30 07:43
While some may say that Mr Mcnaught is a little behind the times in regards to Scottish thinking.
He nevertheless points out areas that do require our attention.

"Scotland, being governed within the UK for over 300 years, has no modern experience with fair and effective written constitutional government. Therefore it is perhaps not surprising, yet with a bit of frustration that I observe a lack of appreciation on the part of many Scots for the historic opportunity that is presented by the independence referendum of 2014, regardless of their political affiliation."

I believe that the above is crucial to having a YES vote succeed. Not enough Scots take this issue seriously in that it is a cross party issue, not just an SNP issue.

After Independence is won, all parties in Scotland will have the chance to express their own policies, then the electorate will chose the path they want to follow.

Without Westminster, and without Scottish MP's there, Scotland will have the opportunity to put right many of the wrongs and bias Scots have endured for centuries.

It really can be a clean slate and Scotland can become a shining light in real democracy.

However, it starts here, with the discussion and ultimately the writing of a constitution fit for purpose.

Once the best brains that we have produce the document, then all of the Scottish people will have a substantial reason to vote YES.

More has to be done to enthuse Scots as to the possibilities of such a document and the real benefit to our lives that it could bring.

We could become the envy of the world and a real example of how to show what real democracy is all about, at this moment in time, we don't and never really have, lived in one.
 
 
# border reiver 2012-07-30 07:47
A recent article on a written cosntitution was highlighted in a video debate featuring Leslie Riddoch and constitutional experts it is well worth watching as it looks at the much needed benefits for all stakeholders in a modern post independence Scotland

newsnetscotland.com/.../...
 
 
# clootie 2012-07-30 07:53
Sigh! I was hoping for a document more "We the people....." than "We the SDA...."

Good quality article and a key point is no political group should write it! This is one we work together on or it will have no support or value from the outset.
 
 
# cardrossian 2012-07-30 08:45
Quoting clootie:
Good quality article and a key point is no political group should write it!




Quite correct clootie, but in the absence of any other political thinking (remember when the SDA started to do this everyone else was still asleep) someone had to get the ball rolling.

So don't complain. Take part
 
 
# Holdtrue 2012-07-30 08:21
Clootie. The Discussion paper on a Proposed Constitution of Scotland, written by the SDA starts with the words.
Quote:
"We, the Scots, being the supreme sovereign authority in Scotland, delegate to the Parliament of Scotland the power to govern the people and territory of Scotland in accordance with the following Constitution."

At the moment the SDA believe that we have generated a basic document which should now be distributed, debated and amended by the people of Scotland. We are currently in the process of arranging for public distribution of the Discussion document. We fully support your statement that this document, in its final form, should be the work of all and any Scots who choose to contribute.

In fact, the bulk of the SDA proposal was provided by non SDA members during the past three years
 
 
# Independista 2012-07-30 08:55
It seems to me that the SDA and the Scottish Constitutional Commission should get together and produce a document that both can agree on and then submit it to the general public for discussion. That would be a good first step surely?
 
 
# Macart 2012-07-30 09:27
There are in fact three draft constitutions already in existence, the SDA version will be a fourth.

See here: constitutionalcommission.org/.../
 
 
# Jim Johnston 2012-07-30 09:22
I'm quite sure that a Yes vote will see a written Constitution in all it's glory as only the Scots can do, placed and passed by the Scottish Parliament before our first Independent election in 2016.

It is good to know that this is already in peoples thoughts, I'm all for it and have no doubt that it will indeed cover corruption and todays mistakes will see some people behind bars.
 
 
# Holdtrue 2012-07-30 09:39
Independista. The SDA and the Scottish Constitution Commission (SCC) have been working together on the SDA compiled document for over two years.

The SCC have been one of the strongest constructive critics of the SDA document. According to the latest SCC/SDA joint assessment the current proposal is some 90 to 92% towards being a working document but now needs input from a wider range of interested persons.
 
 
# chicmac 2012-07-30 10:12
Many of us have considered a Constitution for Scotland. I formed a group many years ago and one of it's aims was to draft a proposed constitution to demonstrate how much better governance could be in an independent Scotland.

Some of the suggestions were even submitted at the time of consultation on the form of the Scottish Parliament and to be fair some of those ideas were moved towards, but most were ignored.
 
 
# sneckedagain 2012-07-30 10:25
Professor Sir Neil MacCormick did a vast amount of work on a proposed Scottish Constitution for the SNP which is still available.

However trying to get together a written constitution that everybody agrees with is a diversion at the moment and a dangerous and potentially divisive diversion at that.
It will be the job of the first elected independent parliament of Scotland to draw up proposals for a constitution.
All suggestions about such can be collected meantime but they cannot be any part of any independence campaign.
 
 
# John Souter 2012-07-30 10:47
Damn the politics of all persuasions.

I think the message that needs to be got across all of Scottish society is, with independence it has the opportunity to start with a clean sheet on the responsibilitie s, disciplines and results it expects from its governance and institutions both public and private.

The constitution is not a political issue,(though many politicians and their parties would have us believe it is) it is the foundation stone of a nations human rights and the values it basis these on. And as such it is the responsibility of a sovereign people to take the time and make the effort to be aware of the opportunity they have to create a constitution that reflects the spirit of a sovereign people.

Once this is realised, the cry for freedom will be the tsunami that tosses the political debris aside
 
 
# sneckedagain 2012-07-30 10:51
I note that the SDA is a virulently anti EU organisation and is linked to Reform Scotland a right-wing think tank which has declared against independence for Devo Max. I actually googled SDA and got
Scottish Downhill Association
Seventh-day Adventists
Speed Demos Archive
Sexual Dysfunction Association
Severe Disablement Allowance
Software for Data Analysis
Services Design Associates
Scottish Darts Association
Stranka Demokratske Akcije (Bosnian political organization)
S.D.A. Distributors Ltd (Kitchen Appliances
long before I came to the Scottish Democratic Alliance and I would be very wary of this tiny organisation that professes support of independence but continually introduces contentious positions to the debate
 
 
# scottish_skier 2012-07-30 11:23
I have been through the SDA policy manifesto. Yes it is best described as quite right-wing. Based on the past century of voting patterns in Scotland, they are unlikely to garner significant support in future elections. A new softer-right Scottish Conservatives with some familiar faces would be far more likely to pick up support from this section of the electorate post independence.
 
 
# James 2012-07-30 15:48
The Scottish Democratic Alliance is not "a virulently anti-EU organisation". Its membership comprises a considerable amount of international and diplomatic expertise, and it is entirely in favour of European cooperation in fields where that is appropriate.

In the case of the European Union, which is actually the smallest of all the major European institutions, the disadvantages of membership for Scotland outweigh the advantages - it is as simple as that. There is nothing obligatory about EU membership.

The same criterion will have to be applied towards membership of all of the many dozens of other global and regional international organisations that independent Scotland will have to join, most of them a good deal more important than the half-European EU. Indeed, the continual harping on the name of the EU, as if it were the beginning and end of international relations, merely indicates an ignorance of the hundreds of international institutions that together constitute the modern global political system. See: Scotland in the World on the SDA website: .../international

The SDA's draft constitution for Scotland is unique in that it takes this global dimension into consideration from the beginning. Of course nobody is going to impose a constitution on Scotland. The SDA is under no illusion that the draft that has cost and is costing it so much time and effort is a proposal for submission to a future constitutional conference, not a finished product. There will doubtless be other opinions and ideas to be taken into account, and the finished document will be a synthesis of the whole.

I must dispel any notion that the SDA is a right-wing organisation. I myself was born and brought up on Clydeside during the interwar depression. What I experienced then would be intolerable nowadays, and I will defer to nobody in my concern for Scottish communal values. There is no conflict between concern for egalitarian values and a recognition that wealth has to be created before it can be redistributed.

As regards the constitution, I imagine that I am one of the few people to have read every word of the minutes of the 1786/87 Philadelphia Convention that drew up the present constitution of the United States, so that I am very appreciative of Mark McNaught's excellent article. That conference was dominated by Scots, and by Scottish ideas. Is a nation that can produce such an outpouring of superior intellect in the service of another country really incapable of doing the same for itself? I think not, and it is clear that Mark McNaught agrees.
 
 
# exel 2012-07-30 11:01
Holdtrue 2012-07-30 10:39
"Independista. The SDA and the Scottish Constitution Commission (SCC) have been working together on the SDA compiled document for over two years.

The SCC have been one of the strongest constructive critics of the SDA document. According to the latest SCC/SDA joint assessment the current proposal is some 90 to 92% towards being a working document but now needs input from a wider range of interested persons."

This article puts into words, much more eloquently, what I have been accused of “banging on about” for over two years. At last one of the political parties (SDA) is peeping over the parapet, at least.

As someone who has a particular interest in “A written Constitution for Scotland” I wonder when your document will be put to the “body of the Kirk” for public discussion.
 
 
# exel 2012-07-30 11:28
Sneckedagain; I agree the SNP have been discussing it on and off for about 80 years, not a long time when you consider the union has lasted 300 years I suppose.

But what matters is that during the 80 years the SNP have never put their
Constitution to the public for discussion.

Time has run out for the Westminster unwritten constitution and the SNP have missed the boat.

The people of Scotland want to be listened to, not given vague promises of sovereignty tomorrow.

The danger you speak of is only to the SNP.
 
 
# fynesider 2012-07-30 12:07
"For Labour, a written constitution could enshrine union rights and collective bargaining, and an utterly level playing field for resolving conflicts with management, if that is still what they stand for. "

Now there's a very good question....!
 
 
# Cuthulan 2012-07-30 12:33
"Therefore it is perhaps not surprising, yet with a bit of frustration that I observe a lack of appreciation on the part of many Scots for the historic
opportunity that is presented by the independence referendum of 2014, regardless of their political affiliation.
If done judiciously, Scotland could adopt a written constitution second to none in terms of guaranteeing democratic accountability, individual rights and liberties, equality before the law, and against corporate corruption. There are many lessons to be learned through the study of constitutions and governing systems throughout the world as to what works and what doesn’t, which could be adapted to modern Scotland to produce a constitution which preserves the many dmirable political qualities possessed by the Scots, such as a genuine egalitarianism"

I totally agree
SOLUTION
Direct Democracy and a crowd sourced written constitution.
Crowd surf the constitution , or take the Icelandic model as a template and just tweek it to suit Scotlands needs
Iceland crowdsources draft constitution from social media sites
www.zdnet.com/.../53596
cuthulan.wordpress.com/.../...
FYI
Historically Scots where a major influence on shaping the American constitution. So i think we can handle writting a Scottish constitution
caribem.hubpages.com/.../...
Forget political parties! Even the SNP(who I am a fanatical supportter of)
Just look at Iceland for an excellent modern example.
A DIRECT DEMOCRACY INDEPENDANT SCOTLAND(aka TRUE democracy)
Direct democracy, classically termed pure democracy, is a form of democracy and a theory of civics in which sovereignty is lodged in the assembly of all citizens who choose to participate. Depending on the particular system, this assembly might pass executive motions, make laws, elect or dismiss officials,and conduct trials. Direct democracy stands in contrast to representative democracy, (UK, US and EU)where sovereignty is exercised by a subset of the people,usually on the basis of election…….(OR the choice of Tweedle dee or Tweedle dum, as today all our government representatives , represent the same lobbygroups, so its a one party system)
en.wikipedia.org/.../...
For those that say its a dream ,Switzerland has been a direct democracy since 1840. Its lived in peace and prosperity since.
 
 
# 1314 2012-07-30 16:03
"Forget political parties!"

Exactly - thereby knocking on the head the large amount of nonsense in comments above regarding which parties should be doing what, and who thought of something first.

The same applies to OUR referendum. While the possibility of a referendum has resulted from a vote in the Scottish Parliament, now it's out there and will happen, it's OUR referendum not their's, and the more it is independent of petty squabbles between political parties the better. The no campaign would love it if they could reduce the discussion to a trading of insults/threats/myths.

A discussion removed from the institutionalis ed political arena and dominated instead by discussion among a great variety people outside of the normal political mill, will in it self be the start of a constitutional position i.e. sovereignty of the people, not parliament.
 
 
# Aucheorn 2012-07-30 16:35
Agree wholeheartedly.

When I'm out for YesScotland I assure people "This is not about party politics, it's about Scotland and her people. The SNP may be fronting it just now but that will change, there are a lot of organisations involved in the 'March for Independence' and their members are in the YesScotland campaign."
 
 
# Cuthulan 2012-07-30 12:57
The UK and the EU are REPRESENTATIVE DEMOCRACIES aka Elected Dictatorships.
They represent democracy in the same way a transvestite represents a woman!
IF we do not live in an elected dictatorship YOU will be able to tell me what else YOU get to vote for, except your dictator ,who is above the law. Have you tried arresting the liar [Edit by NNS Mods Team] and war criminal Tony Blair for example. He has been found guilty of war crimes frequently.
If you want to read a post that shows what "representative democratic governments" actually represent, please read this. They do not represent democracy or YOU!!
cuthulan.wordpress.com/.../...
What it does represent is corruption and lies.But what do you expect from this representative system that attracts people with the personalities of serial killers? Power corrupts remember.
current.com/1knrukc
current.com/.../...
What did you expect ? Justice ,humanitarianis m ,democracy, fairness?
Please look up the word DEMOCIDE
You will find "representative governments" are the biggest killers of the 20th century, more than war ,disease ,terrorism or anarchists.
Rummel estimates that there have been 262 million victims of democide in the last century. According to his figures, six times as many people have died from the inflictions of people working for governments than have died in battle.
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Democide
cuthulan.wordpress.com/.../...
The sytem we have is just modern fascism aka state capitalism. Why do you think the government invited the army to fill the Olympic empty seats instead of civilians?
State capitalism has various different meanings, but is usually described as a society wherein the productive forces are controlled and directed by the state in a capitalist manner, even if such a state calls itself socialist. Corporatized state agencies and states that own controlling shares of publicly-listed firms, and thus acting as a capitalist itself, are two examples of state capitalism
en.wikipedia.org/.../...
OF COURSE THIS IS JUST FASCISM!!
Fascism should more appropriately be called corporatism because it is the merger of state and corporate power.
Benito Mussolini, fascist dictator of Italy (1922-1943)
Actually if we followed the Aztec form of government we would probably sacrifice less innocent people ;-)
Actually do we even need a government at all?
Belgium went 450 days with no government. It just ment an economic boom time ,civil liberties where secure and no-one could impose austerity measures!
wallstreetsectorselector.com/.../...
So why the MSM reports of the sky falling and economy collapsing if we did not form a coalition government in days?
could it be the MSM lies and politions are just out for themselves?
The MSM RUT (Repeat Until True) government is good , unionism is good , war is peace and debt slavery is freedom
Saor Alba
 
 
# Caadfael 2012-07-30 14:07
HEAR! HEAR!
Absolutely Cuthulan! And if we're accused of "cherry picking" what of it, they are there to be picked, even to the highest branches!
Bravo Sir I say!
 
 
# Mad Jock McMad 2012-07-30 19:52
Enshrined in Scots Law and has been since 1328 is the concept that all power in Scotland is derived from the sovereign people of Scotland.

In the rant above the Cuthulan has mixed up the concept of Parliamentary democracy where the crown or president is sovereign in parliament and Scotland which remains a representative democracy. Simply because this legal and constitutional concept has been ignored, by default, at Westminster for 300 years does not make it any less true to this day.

Blair's attempt to free Megrahi fell on this key legal and constitutional power.

Westminster has no powers over Scots Law. To get round this problem Westminster created the Scottish Grand Committee to rubber stamp its policies a committee whose powers all lie with the Parliament at Holyrood. This is why Scotland has its own seperate parliamentary acts for any UK wide legislation. The Scottish Office precribed task is to ensure no such UK legislation effects Scots Law or constitutional practice to its detriment or independence.

It is why in AXA et al vs The Scottish Government the Supreme Court could only find against AXA (as opposed to the experts view that the Scottish government did not have a leg to stand on) stating clearly in its judgement that it could not set aside any bill or act of the Scottish Parliament that expressed the (sovereign) will of the Scottish people.

We have already passed the point where Scotland is beholden to the unwritten constitution of the parliamentary democracy at Westminster. We never have been beholden to primarily English Constitutional norms of Westminster (a point Lord Cooper made in 1953). This was why Micheal Forsyth was so against any devolution to Scotland. He stated, in a 1997 debate, that once the Scottish Parliament had reconvened all it would take is for a majority vote in the Scottish Parliament to end the Union.

Any modern Scottish constitution has to start from the current state of Scots Law and constitutional practice.

This fundamentally states the people of Scotland are sovereign and all power to the crown or parliament derives from them and them alone.

It is why the SNP constitutional draft has a system for delaying legislation which has less than 60% support from the independent Scottish Parliament for up to a year. It is why the SNP seek to undertake 'proper consultation' to ensure the people of Scotland understand and agree with their position. One recent impact of a consultation has seen the reversal of the SNP's policy towards NATO membership. Another has seen a move towards looking at EFTA rather than EU membership.

Holyrood is growing in our affection primarily because since 2007 the SNP has sought to enable the parliament to be one of concensus. At first because it had to but now because it is what the people of Scotland except and wish - a whole part of Scots politics which the London parties seek to deny.

We all like a big rammy but at the end, first and foremost, we want what is best for Scotland. We could write 6.8 million constitutions, all of which will be at odds with each other but with all there will run the important concepts of the last 700 years:

The people of Scotland are sovereign.
No King, queen or President or other styled as head of the country can be put over us with out our formal assent and may be removed at any time by the will of the sovereign people.
No politician is outwith Scots Law and only stands as the MSP for their constituency as a duly elected representative of the sovereign people (That will cause problems for party whips and lobby fodder).
Parliamentray elections will be held every four years and conducted under a true proportional voting system.
No man or woman may be imprisoned or held in prison without just cause.
All accused are entitled to trial by their peers drawn from the sovereign Scottish people.
All are entitled to hold their own religous views and no one will be discriminated against on this basis, nor their colour nor their place of birth nor their sexual orientation. The encitement to violence against an individual or group under any of these causes will be a criminal offence under Scots Law.

If we can not get a Scottish Constitution stated on one page of A4, Times Roman 11pt - then I suggest we have missed the point and created too much wiggle room.
 
 
# Cuthulan 2012-07-30 23:20
I am not mixed up about Scotlands soverignty.I think you are just muddying waters or do not understand what direct democracy means,and its effect on the parliment system and soverignty. In theory yes we are soverign,but what soverign powers do we have? In reality less than Queen Liz,unless you are a lawyer...I think YOU will find the word British SUBJECT not citizen is used to descride you.
So Mad Jock McMad ,we are still free ,because we the people of Scotland are soverign. How's that going then'-)
I think you are mixed up about ancient romantic ideals and modern hard realpolotik .Yes I agree with your statement,in principle , BUT I think you missed the point of the original post. We need to update things from 1328,and take the old ideals and give them life today!!
i also think you remain mixed up about the real and theoretical powers of parliment, the people and what representative democracy actually represents today!I do NOT see a PR system alone solving any of your or my concerns
I see Direct Democracy,with a PR parliment, fitting in very well with modern Scots and ancient Scottish values. I think the Icelandic constitution would be a good starting point for a Scottish Constitution with Direct Democracy.
It would make the people of Scotland soverign again and in charge of the parliment,and this time in the 21st century ...not the 14th
 
 
# Mad Jock McMad 2012-07-31 08:43
Cuthulan - I have not missed any point, I am simply saying that we have to start where Scots Law and constitutional practice (a direct creation of the historical document you seek to decry) has us at present. To do otherwise is to invite anarchy and to alienate a lot of Scots you would wish to engage. The error being made by the author of this piece is there is a 'blank slate'.

If we do not know where we are at present how can we move forward?

The problem is after 300 years of the Scots being told we are too wee, to poor, too stupid; most people do not understand what their current constitutional rights are, let alone know how to improve and move them forward.

First there is a need to educate otherwise there is a serious likelihood we will simply end up re-inventing the wheel.
 
 
# Cuthulan 2012-07-31 10:17
Actually I think we are both describing the same thing but from different angles.
I do not decry our history , in fact I research it and am proud of it, and it goes back a lot longer than 1328 or 1314..... but I try NOT to live in the past.
Here are some posts from my research
cuthulan.wordpress.com/.../...
cuthulan.wordpress.com/.../...
cuthulan.wordpress.com/.../...
cuthulan.wordpress.com/.../...
Btw...These posts need updating

YOU SAY
"....that we have to start where Scots Law and constitutional practice..
To do otherwise is to invite anarchy and to alienate a lot of Scots you would wish to engage"

I am NOT agruing against this , I'm just saying ,in modern political reality these constitutional rights have very little influence.This has been going on for a while. Can you not see this?
Here is apost about this very subject!! Who Stole Scotland and who will steal it back?
cuthulan.wordpress.com/.../...
As for inviting anarchy? I think we mean CHAOS. Switzerland is in a state of anarchy ,"anarchy" just means without centralised governance.
Actually its government that create chaos and calls it anarchy. Its the 2nd law of thermodynamic is action. The more you impose law ,the more you accelerate chaos. Ignore this universal law at your peril.....the government does!!For example Iraq ,Libya and Syria are in states of chaos. Caused by people imposing thier laws on others.The London and European riots where caused by European governments imposing austerity measures..and blaming anarchist and youths and criminals.
Also I am obviously NOT alienating a lot of Scots ,as can be seen by the kind replies I have recieved.Thank you very much people.
Sorry but your "blank slate" arguement is mute. The American constitution was not written in a cultural vacuum! Its Scottish influences are great , influences that enshrined the principles of Magna Carta, and Highland/Scottish ideals and the Scottish renesience etc.BUT it reflected the needs of the people in 1776! The same will be true of a modern Scottish constitution,it will be culturally influenced by Scottish tradition and law BUT reflect the need of 21st century Scots.
I do not see why you have a problem with Direct Democracy instead of PR representative Democracy.Representative Democarcy has the parliment as soverign IN REALITY, it is just another form of elected dictatorship and as such,it can only corrupt!
As you have pointed out according to Scottish tradition the people are soverign, but in reality we are NOT!! A PR representative government would not change this.
Education and understanding Scotlands history and culture is very important, if we are to have informed discussion. So I agree with you that these "ancient constitutional rights" are upheld, a Direct Democracy system would enfore this principle no matter who is running the parliment.

"Direct democracy, classically termed pure democracy, is a form of democracy and a theory of civics in which sovereignty is lodged in the assembly of all citizens who choose to participate"

See soverignty would return to the people of Scotland again.
A simple constitution crowd sourced from the public and NOT written in legal mumbo-jumbo by lawyers etc is exactly what I too propose. The Icelandic constitution would be a very good starting point for a Scottish constitution ,would you not agree?
Remember looking at a blank page is daunting ,its better to start with a template and then adjust it for Scottish needs or add Scottish ancient constitutional rights.
Here is are posts about this subject
cuthulan.wordpress.com/.../...
cuthulan.wordpress.com/.../...

I agree with your worries about re-inventing wheel.We could just end up in the same troubles,BUT I see this problem with a PR representative government. That is why I am for direct democracy! It has proven to have a LONG track record of guarding the peoples soverignty(Swit zerland). In Iceland today it protected the Icelandic people from thier government and bankers. In fact thanks to direct democracy they arrested the bankers AND thier PRIME MINISTER!!
So I say a Direct Democracy Scotland with a crowd sourced written constitution is the best answer....but ultimately the people of Scotland should decide , not the politions.
Saor Alba
 
 
# forrabest 2012-07-31 00:35
Great post, indeed. There must be some way of making this information more widely known to the general public. I had such high expectations from the Yes campaign but nothing much has happened so far. This website has been a goldmine of information, thanks NNS and posters.
 
 
# ScotsCanuck 2012-07-30 23:20
MJMacMad,

Absolutely, you’ve nailed it down precisely.

A Constitution does not have to cover EVERY possible situation & scenario but
DOES have to enshrine :-

the sacred principal of the Sovereignty of the People

freedom & justice for all, without fear or favour, under the law

and by definition, governance in accordance with the law.
 
 
# GerrySNP 2012-07-31 02:24
And the problem facing those who want a YES answer and a move to a modern Constitution for a new Independent Scotland is " Who will form the Constitutional Convention" which will have to power to "suggest" the form of Document for the Scottish people to assent to? "
For the Yes campaign it is not enough to say "this is one of those questions which can be left to the first Government of the new Independent State" - for that suggests that they can ask people to vote for a pig in a poke. For the SNP they have a mechanism, elected delegates to debate and agree motions or amended motions. The SDA do not, I think, have any such representative gathering. Nor do the non-SNP part of the Yes campaign.
The times and circumstances demand a Constitutional Convention to which all interests are invited, and to which all interests come - even those interests which oppose the hypothetical case. If the Unionists refuse to attend, History will judge them harshly, as it did the Tories in the first Holyrood election, and with more cause.
Do the leaders of the Yes campaign really believe that this matter can be left until after the Referendum? That Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt will be less without an answer to some very serious questions about the future governance of of this land?
 
 
# Macart 2012-07-31 06:32
Good points and good posts from lots of people. However maybe the first thing that has to be done, before we start rolling out the parchment and quill pens, is enthuse and empower the electorate sufficiently, that they'll actually care what goes on that piece of paper.

Turnouts for elections and referendums have gotten steadily lower for years. Any political process is rightly viewed with suspicion at best and downright apathy at worst. For people to engage they need to believe they can make a difference and believe that their opinion counts. This is not a problem for the politically motivated/interested. The vast majority however are those who get up in the morning and wonder how their bills are going to be met and just what roadblock to survival have the government of the day dropped from a great height.

The referendum itself is not about politics, but it is about the source of politics and power in our country. So first things first, I'd say getting people on board with enthusiasm and aspiration for their country may be a cunning plan.
 
 
# Mad Jock McMad 2012-07-31 08:58
My work over the last twenty years has basically been about taking verbiose gunk that management thought was a written process or quality system and reducing it to something that makes sense to the people who need to apply, use and refer to it.

If we are to have a modern Scottish constitution it must be equally applicable so the man and woman in the street can read it and say what their unalienable rights are with out recourse to lawyers.

That was the genious of Bruce's Parliament of 1328 and to ignore this is to ignore an important lesson of history.

If you want to bring the people behind a new 'Scottish Constitution' then the sirein voices of over complication and you can't make it that simple have to be ignored.

Failure to keep it clear and simple means we will end up with a constitution that mimics the very situation we deplore in the current UK system - politicians can make it mean what ever they wish it to mean.

Possibly NNS could run a piece simply asking folk to state what they believe are their current constitutional and legal rights in Scotland. If 'we the people' are going to write the constitution it is as good a place as any to start.

PS ED ... if you want me to start the ball rolling give me a nod
 
 
# Cuthulan 2012-08-01 09:19
A last point.
Your arguement makes no sense and is INCONSTITUTIONA L by your own standards.
I think YOU do not understand the concept of soverignty and representative democracy.

Direct democracy, classically termed pure democracy, is a form of democracy and a theory of civics in which sovereignty is lodged in the assembly of all citizens who choose to participate.
THUS Direct Democracy IS the traditional political system of Scotland. The people are soverign no matter what the parliment says.

Direct democracy stands in contrast to representative democracy, (UK, US and EU)where sovereignty is exercised by a subset of the people,usually on the basis of election
Thus Representative Democracy is UNCONSTITUTIONA L as the representative parliment becomes the soverign power in Scotland, NOT the people. The parliment can dictate to the people! A constitution can only restrain the parliment, but this can be by-passed by a representative parliment. Look what happened to the USA since 1776. Mad Jock McMad you have just managed to re-invent the dodgey wheel
Direct democracy will maintain the constitution ,look at Switerland or Iceland to see this process in action.
So lets tell the people we want a Direct Democracy Scotland with a PR parliment (with an option for "empty seat" on the ballot) and a crowd sourced Scottish constitution taking into account Scotlands culture ,laws and traditions....so NO representative governments,PR or otherwise ,this would go against Scottish tradition and long held constitutional rights!!
 
 
# UpSpake 2012-07-31 09:06
It has always been a staple of mine that ahead of all the explanatory paragraphs sits a bullet point that people remember and can re-count at will.
Therefore the rights, responsibilitie s and the role of the state and vice versa, the rights and responsibilitie s of the citizen are laid out clearly in the 10 commandments of the cosntitution so that from kindergarten onwards the basics are always understood.
Few need to delve deeper unless they are nerds or lawyers or both.
Simplicity is the name of the game for a Constitution for a modern and progressive Scotland. It will come quick enough !.
 
 
# sneckedagain 2012-07-31 09:25
The time for a constitution to be devised is after we have achieved independence. Several contributions to this site already illustrate how complicated and how potentially divisive and diversionary trying to draw up a constitution now would be.

What guarantee is there that any proposed constitution drawn up now would be adopted by the first elected independent Scottish government? It could ignore it, abandon it or draw up something completely different.
By all means express ideas about a constitution now - but its for another day.
 
 
# exel 2012-07-31 10:32
GerrySNP 2012-07-31 03:24
“The times and circumstances demand a Constitutional Convention to which all interests are invited, and to which all interests come - even those interests which oppose the hypothetical case. If the Unionists refuse to attend, History will judge them harshly, as it did the Tories in the first Holyrood election, and with more cause.”

I agree with you 99% Gerry. But I would point out that it is more likely that the SNP would be the ones to refuse to attend, they do have a history of not attending debates which they cannot control.

“And the problem facing those who want a YES answer and a move to a modern Constitution for a new Independent Scotland is " Who will form the Constitutional Convention" which will have to power to "suggest" the form of Document for the Scottish people to assent to? "

I would suggest that you are trying to be too clever here Gerry. There is no “power” required to suggest the “form of document for the Scottish people to assent to”. We have already seen that there are several documents available for discussion. All that is required is the present administration to hold a public debate under the auspices of a select committee (Constitutional Convention) at Holyrood.

In my humble opinion of course.

# Macart 2012-07-31 07:32; your point about enthusing the electorate is a good one, there is and has been for many years a lack of interest in anything politicians say or do. Their choice of representatives has been limited mainly to sycophants (only in it for what they can get) of political parties.

I have advocated for some time that involving civic society at all levels, is the best tool for a YES.

Scots can smell “Bull Manure” for miles, even from the “Cloud”. Let’s get the debate into the public forum and dispel the bad smell once and for all.
 
 
# sneckedagain 2012-07-31 11:41
Correction, exel

The SNP have history of sensibly not attending debates from which their point of view is deliberately excluded.
 
 
# exel 2012-07-31 11:53
sneckedagain 2012-07-31 10:25
“What guarantee is there that any proposed constitution drawn up now would be adopted by the first elected independent Scottish government? It could ignore it, abandon it or draw up something completely different.
By all means express ideas about a constitution now - but its for another day.”

Wishful thinking!! Not if it was ratified by the people of Scotland. Are the SNP going to block it?

sneckedagain 2012-07-31 12:41
Correction, The SNP claimed their point of view is deliberately excluded.
 
 
# Galen10 2012-08-01 07:22
Quoting exel:
Wishful thinking!! Not if it was ratified by the people of Scotland. Are the SNP going to block it?

sneckedagain 2012-07-31 12:41
Correction, The SNP claimed their point of view is deliberately excluded.


Excel, the wishful thinking is all yours. How do you see the people of Scotland ratifying a new constitution before 2014 exactly? The only legitimate ways for a constitutional convention to draw up a new constitution is for that convention to be either directly elected for that specific purpose nationally on a vote of all the Scottish people, or for it to be appointed by a newly elected parliament post a YES vote in 2014.

The kind of ad hoc convention you are suggesting would have no mandate, and would not therefore be legitimate.

If federlaists like yourself, or proponents of FFA, want to waste their time drawing up detailed plans for the kind of constitution required, then have at it, but don't expect everyone else to see the obvious flaws in your approach. The timing is wrong, your proposed body would lack a mandate, and in any case even if it could come up with any meaningful plan it has no way of enacting it.
 
 
# sneckedagain 2012-07-31 15:38
Are the floundering unionists going to demand Scotland has a written constitution? Before it is independent ?
Like the one the UK has,for instance?
Gie's peace
 
 
# sneckedagain 2012-07-31 20:09
exel again

Oh,sorry.
I didn't know the Constitutional Convention and the Calman Commission had agreed to the SNP's request and pencilled in Independence for serious discussion.

As I said - gie's peace.
 
 
# HelenL 2012-08-01 10:30
Do the Labour party give two hoots for Union rights? On what evidence? They had how long in government to restore union rights removed by the Tories in Westminster. Did they?
 
 
# HelenL 2012-08-01 10:54
This nonsense about the time for a Constitution to be decided is after 2014. Oh, so Indy excludes any democratic discussion and any resultant demand until after 2014? Did the Scots agree to be so silenced? Why would anyone insist on such silence?

Bizarre if not dangerously anti-democratic
 
 
# Galen10 2012-08-02 08:27
Quoting HelenL:
This nonsense about the time for a Constitution to be decided is after 2014. Oh, so Indy excludes any democratic discussion and any resultant demand until after 2014? Did the Scots agree to be so silenced? Why would anyone insist on such silence?

Bizarre if not dangerously anti-democratic



Nobody IS insisting on silence; as many here who totally disagree with your view have said, parties, interest groups and individuals should feel free to propose anything they like.... but it is up to the Scottish people to dispose, and that can ONLY sensibly be done after the 2014 vote has been won.

The points of contention are whether such discussions being held over the next 2 years is right from a timing point of view, and whether the various proposals that might come out of such discussions would have any legitimacy or mandate.

Those in favour of trying to thrash out a constitution before 2014 have signally failed to address ANY of these points over various threads, despite being repeatedly asked to do so.

Since you have stuck your head above the parapet in their support, perhaps you will be able to give us the explanation.....? Or perhaps you'll just descend to the excel school of debate and label anyone who disagrees with you an SNP sycophant?

Or are you just another Unionist shill content to shout from the sidelines and throw rocks in the absence of any actual counter arguments?
 
 
# exel 2012-08-02 10:32
HelenL 2012-08-01 11:54
This nonsense about the time for a Constitution to be decided is after 2014. Oh, so Indy excludes any democratic discussion and any resultant demand until after 2014? Did the Scots agree to be so silenced? Why would anyone insist on such silence? Bizarre if not dangerously anti-democratic.

Absolutely Helen, as I posted earlier; “The present SNP hierarchy, as I have posted many times, have painted themselves into an “independence first corner”. They only see independence as a battering ram to force Westminster into ceding more power. It has not worked and although Scots reject Westminster, they want to be part of determining the new state before they vote to secede.”

Why did Scotland vote for devolution anyway? In my opinion they did not wish to continue with the uncodified constitution of Westminster.

The promise of something better, jam tomorrow, in the form of a codified constitution after we secede. Are the Scots as gullible as the SNP seem to think?
 
 
# exel 2012-08-01 11:15
Do you actually read before you post Galen?

You say; “The only legitimate ways for a constitutional convention to draw up a new constitution is for that convention to be either directly elected for that specific purpose nationally on a vote of all the Scottish people, or for it to be appointed by a newly elected parliament post a YES vote in 2014.”

What exel posted was; “There is no “power” required to suggest the “form of document for the Scottish people to assent to”. We have already seen that there are several documents available for discussion. All that is required is the present administration to hold a public debate under the auspices of a select committee (Constitutional Convention) at Holyrood.”

We already have an elected parliament at Holyrood. Are you questioning its legitimacy?
 
 
# Galen10 2012-08-01 13:00
Yes, I do read... you just don't appear to be listening, particularly as you never answer the direct questions put to you. Additionally, anyone who refers to themselves in the third person must be a tad suspect; altho' again, given your tin-hatted views it's to be expected I suppose.

I fully accept the legitimacy of the current parliament. However, even the most rabid cybernat would recognise that the fact that the SNP enjoys a majority in the current parliament, does not entitle it to declare UDI. The Scottish people did not not vote in the SNP majority on a platform of declaring independence, or of them writing a new constitution, they voted them in (partly) on a platform of holding a referendum.

Deciding on a new constitution for Scotland is a matter for ALL of the Scottish people to decide AFTER a yes vote in 2014. None of the documents produced by any party reflect the wishes of the Scottish people, voting from a position of knowledge after they have chosen to become independent.

We have other work to do over the next 2 years.

Where on earth have you gotten hold of the risible idea that the current parliament has the mandate or legitimacy to convene a select committe to decide on a future constitution?

The current parliament is the creature of the devolutionary settlement, it is certainly NOT the correct forum to decide what the political landscape of an independent Scotland should be.

Few people apart from you agree that the next 2 years is the correct time for the debate you seek to be held, and fewer yet would share your appetite for the current parliament to take it upon itself to decide on the future constitution; none of the Unionist parties would want to be involved, and the SNP is only one party.

Any future convention needs to be either a "one-purpose" body elected specifically for that purpose, or it needs to be appointed by a newly elected Holyrood parliament post 2014 when the people have had a chance to elect representatives and parties reflecting the goals of an independent people.
 
 
# flyingscotsman 2012-08-01 13:10
Quoting Galen10:
I fully accept the legitimacy of the current parliament. However, even the most rabid cybernat would recognise that the fact that the SNP enjoys a majority in the current parliament, does not entitle it to declare UDI. The Scottish people did not not vote in the SNP majority on a platform of declaring independence, or of them writing a new constitution, they voted them in (partly) on a platform of holding a referendum.


I actually dont understand your logic. SNP is the party of independence and no other party wants independence so why should they be part of the process? Also these other parties are based in London so this is influence from outwith Scotland which should not happen.

The SNP should define the constitution, and the people can vote based on what has been written down.
 
 
# Galen10 2012-08-01 13:23
No, the SNP should certainly NOT define the constitution, anymore than any other one party, civic group or other interest group. Any future constitution needs to be approved by the majority of the Scottish people, not be seen as the creature of one political party.

If (and it could be a big if!) the SNP gains a majority in the first parliament post independence, then there might be an argument for saying that they should define the constitution, presumably on the basis that they will have set out their stall in their manifesto and people can make an informed choice about what the "SNP" constitution looks like.

The current Scottish government has no more mandate to define the future constitution any more than they have to dictate whether we are in NATO, the EU, the Euro, retian nuclear subs on the Clyde.... all of these matters are for the Scottish people to decide through the parliament of an independent state, or via referendums called for the purpose according to taste.
 
 
# flyingscotsman 2012-08-01 14:28
Alas I disagree, I would rather see what is on offer before I buy...not for me though as I dont need to see it. But for the many thousands that are undecided I would suggest that it is something that would appeal to certain groups within. We are not all the same and your absolutism is unappealing.

I would also say, why should politicians be part of the drafting, why should any other group, they all have their agendas so its going to be skewed one way or another. It will end up taking 10 years to define it because of the squabbling that would ensue. If its not right then the people wont vote for it.

The SNP have every right to define a constitution, of course not to enact it, they only would have a right to use it after a yes vote for independence.
 
 
# Galen10 2012-08-01 15:12
I don't see it as absolutism... it's simple common sense. As I've said before, the SNP, other political parties, civic groups, trades unions, individuals are quite free to propose all they like; I still feel it's a massive and ill timed distraction, but we're not likely to agree on that point.

It is hoever for the scottish people to dispose; the SNP's plans, whilst interesting, are just their views. The vast majority of undecided's are not going to make their minds up over these kinds of issues, indeed it may even turn them off. They will decide on the basis of what is best for them, and whether they think the YES campaign has made a good enough case that we are better apart not better together, and that Unionist promises of "jam tomorrow" are not to be trusted because even if they could come up with a coherent FFA plan, they have no chance of having it enacted.

The only way the SNP have the right to define the constiution is if they have presented it to the people and been elected on that basis.
 
 
# UpSpake 2012-08-01 13:15
The subject of a Constitution, Departments of State, Currency, Central Bank/Treasury etc etc cannot be left until after a Refendum vote as the timeframe to do each of these vital organs of government proper justice, will be woefully short.
Scotland would find itself at the mercy of any and all who wished it harm. We are not about to create an independent country as a result of a Yes vote but a country which will emerge onto the world stage from relative obscurity.
The world needs to be aware of us long before such a decisive vote and whilst some are, many are not.
Subsumed within the UK/England umbrella for so long, there is little international awareness of Scotland as a player on the world stage since, we have never been there for over 300 years.
We just don't have the excperience at our fingertips and waiting until a Yes vote is secured is not the kind of 'on the job training' I'm looking for.
Best we start - now !.
 
 
# tartanfever 2012-08-01 13:27
Personally the last thing I want is a central bank. That is simply nothing more than an instrument of debt as all money issued by them will have an interest charge.

I'd rather have institutions that reflect a new vision of a fairer society rather than just copy the institutions of old that show no new or forward thinking.

Let's not repeat the mistakes of other countries if we have the opportunity for a clean slate, lets do something radically different and learn from our mistakes.
 
 
# Galen10 2012-08-01 13:38
Apparently you just can't kill a bad idea; excel is bad enough...now we have another!

There will be plenty of time to decide on the matters you raise above after a YES vote in 2014; the negotiations with rUK are going to take some time, but the proposal that we have to divert any energy into this kind of "whatiffery" over the next 2 years is wrong on a number of levels. The timing is wrong for a start, as the "big event" should be the concentration, but also as has been extensively debated elsewhere, the parties involved in tilting at all these windmills over the next 24 months lack a clear mandate, and will not be able to present their findings as legitimate.

All they will be doing is issuing their sectional take on what they would like to see happen post 2014 assuming there is a YES vote, based on the current economic a nd political situation which is bound to change in the period between now and the date the Union is dissolved.

The whole idea is barking, and seems to be pedalled mostly by useful fools of the Unionist ascendancy, or those who have swallowed the "too wee, too poor, too stupid" meme whole.

Have you so little faith in the ability of the Scottish people to reclaim their independence and establish the kind of progressive democracy we want? Why would you think that we are somehow uniquely unsuited for the task when so many other peoples with fewer advantages and many more problems seem to have managed it?
 
 
# exel 2012-08-01 14:08
UpSpake 2012-08-01 14:15
"The subject of a Constitution, Departments of State, Currency, Central Bank/Treasury etc etc cannot be left until after a Refendum vote as the timeframe to do each of these vital organs of government proper justice, will be woefully short."

For the first time in almost two years I agree with UpSpake. It seems that the SDA’s consultation with the constitutional commission is bearing fruit at last.

flyingscotsman 2012-08-01 14:10
“The SNP should define the constitution, and the people can vote based on what has been written down.”

Of course you are correct, but the SNP hierarchy have moved away from the vision of the founding fathers. That vision included a written constitution which, if they had involved civic Scotland to refine it, could have been the trigger to achieve the Independent State the desired.

The present SNP hierarchy, as I have posted many times, have painted them into an “independence first corner”. They only see independence as a battering ram to force Westminster into ceding more power. It has not worked and although Scots reject Westminster, they want to be part of determining the new state before they vote to secede.
 
 
# Galen10 2012-08-01 14:24
Hold on a minute.... how do you think that other countries which have become independent have managed this process? Do you really think that the likes of Slovakia, Montenegro, the Baltic states etc., etc. were deciding all these kind of things for years beforehand? Time WON'T be woefully short... the period between a YES vote in 2014 and the dissolution of the Union will be plenty long enough.

If you are so sure of your ground that the Scots want to be part of determining the new state before they vote to secede, they have been curiously unwilling to vote for parties calling for that outcome haven't they?

The reason for that of course is that people in general rarely vote on the basis of one issue; thus they didn't elect an SNP majority because they wanted independence, they voted for them because they had been competent in government, because the opposition were a joke, and because the opposition were not offering to champion the outcome that all the opinion polls showed the majority wanted.

You keep harping back to your federalist dreams excel, but they grow less and less convincing the closer we get to 2014; there is nobody pushing the clapped out federlaist / devo-max bus, and even if there was, they don't have the strength to get it to its destination!
 
 
# sneckedagain 2012-08-02 08:04
exel

"That vision included a written constitution"

You just make it up as you go along, don't you?
 
 
# exel 2012-08-02 08:23
In September 2002, the Scottish National Party (SNP) published a document, entitled A Constitution for a Free Scotland, which details their policy for the Constitution of a future independent Scotland. This Constitution, which would come into effect following Scotland's transition to independence, would set out the rights of citizens of an independent Scotland, and define the powers and responsibilitie s of government and parliament.

Historical background; The 2002 paper represents the culmination of many years' work. The essential elements of the Constitutional Policy were first adopted at the SNP's National Conference in 1977. The original drafting committee was convened by the late Dr Robert McIntyre, assisted by Professor Neil MacCormick, Dr Allan Macartney, Peter Chiene, Kenneth Fee, Isobel Lindsay and Barbara Park. The spirit of the original proposal has been retained in subsequent revisions, including a substantial review in 1990–1991.
 
 
# sneckedagain 2012-08-02 10:17
exel

Exactly. I have already posted that there has been considerable work done , supervised by Prof Sir Neil MacCormick, on a draft constitution for an independent Scotland.
This body of work will no doubt be brought into play by the SNP when there is the first independent Scottish Government and has no immediate relevance now.
There is of course no guarantee that the first independent Scottish government will be an SNP one but we can take it that the proposals you indicate above will broadly be be the SNP's proposals to any debate on a written constitution. I imagine one of the first acts of a first Scottish Government will be to draw up a written constitution and submissions will have to be entertained from every area of Scottish life.

This however has nothing to do with the "founding fathers" of the SNP in the 1930s, a majority of whom at that historical point were coalescing around the idea of dominion status for Scotland
 
 
# Macart 2012-08-02 11:11
Fairly strong polar views at work here.

Personally, I have no idea what the SNPs strategy is concerning the next two years. Not being psychic and of limited political intellect, I'm thinking maybe I'll wait until I have facts and evidence in front of me before I come to conclusions on strategy or intent. I do know that in the link I posted earlier there is a 1997 paper where they stated "A written constitution will be incorporated in the independence settlement to be placed before the Scottish people in a referendum". This in the run up to a GE at the time.

There is two years to go and a white paper due next year. Then we'll have a better idea of what the SNP intends for both their referendum input and an independent Scotland. We don't have the finished shape or timing of the referendum yet and we're arguing on constitution now yes or no. I think it is vital that people should be talking about a Scottish constitution now and thinking about how they wish to be governed. This will go a long way to helping them make their decision in 2014. I also think it is a question that should best be asked of both Better Together and the Yes Scotland campaigns. 'Are there any plans for either camp to present the people of Scotland with the opportunity to draw up a written constitution?'

The YES campaign can obviously answer YES to that question too. The Better Together camp? Not so much. THEN comes the question about timing. Before, during, after, followed by who and how long?

It may be that I just don't understand the whole intricacies of political strategy thing, but that seems sensible to me.
 
 
# Galen10 2012-08-02 13:05
Why would the Unionist parties be interested in discussing a new constitution? They have shown very little sign of explaining their "jam tomorrow" plans for devolution if we are good little voters and vote NO in 2014. We don't know how much jam, what flavour, or when it will be delivered.

Those who want to, and have the energy, can knock themselves out having abstruse arguments over the next 2 years about issues which just aren't that urgent or central to the vast majority of voters.

In the meantime, everyone else should focus on achieving the result they want in 2014, whether YES or NO. The interegnum between a YES vote and the completion of negotiations gives us plenty of time to complete such discussions, and even better to ensure they are carried out at the right time, with all the facts, and by a legitimate body with a true mandate from the Scottish people, having expressed their preference for independence.
 
 
# Macart 2012-08-02 14:28
@ Galen10

"Why would the Unionist parties be interested in discussing a new constitution? They have shown very little sign of explaining their "jam tomorrow" plans for devolution if we are good little voters and vote NO in 2014. We don't know how much jam, what flavour, or when it will be delivered."

That's the point I'm making Galen. I'm not arguing for or against timetables on creating a constitution, I'll leave that to brighter folks than me. What I will argue for is that the offer and composition of a written constitution is something in the YES campaign's favour. That getting people to talk about how they wish to be governed is a good thing which provides essential civic feedback and that Better Together absolutely will not put such a thing in front of the Scots electorate at all.
 
 
# exel 2012-08-02 11:12
sneckedagain 2012-08-02 11:17
exel: “Exactly. I have already posted that there has been considerable work done , supervised by Prof Sir Neil MacCormick, on a draft constitution for an independent Scotland.
This body of work will no doubt be brought into play by the SNP when there is the first independent Scottish Government and has no immediate relevance now.”

Of course it has relevance now; you are still dodging the issue. The “founding fathers” may have been “coalescing around the idea of dominion status for Scotland” (Home Rule), but they were still arguing for constitutional change, and were aware that they had to define that constitution to persuade the Scottish electorate to vote for it.

Let’s just cut to the chase and debate it now and save time later.

What is to be lost? I would say the YES vote.
 
 
# Galen10 2012-08-02 12:48
The YES vote isn't going to be won or lost on the issue of whether or not a pretty new constitution has been agreed and presented to the voters all tied up in a nice bow. Vanishingly few people will be so bothered that it would impact the way they voted; few people vote on matters like this on single issues.

We have enough on our hands debating the main event. Sneckedagain is correct... what the SNP has or hasn't said now or in the past, whilst interesting, is simply the view of one political party. We have no way of knowing if they will be in power when independence is achieved, or what the economic and political conditions will be.

Far from being undemocratic or denying people their say, postponing a decision on a future constitution (and other issues) is actually MORE democratic, since what the Scottish people chose to do on many of these issues (and who they elect) will be impacted by the situation at the time, and the outcome of the negotiations with rUK about an amicable divorce.

Many Scots will vote in a certain way post a presumed YES vote in 2014 if they feel rUK is being unreasonable, drawing out the negotiations, or dragging their feet on issues they feel are important.

That is certainly a much more likely scenario than a few people like exel and Upspake making their decision on the basis of of whether such matters are settled before 2014.
 
 
# Cuthulan 2012-08-02 11:18
KEEP YOUR EYES ON THE BALL!! The ball is independence!
Is a constitution a good idea? YES ..probably
Is it worth spending time on defining a constitution now? NO!
If the SNP have a proposed constitution ,then fine ,BUT it will only be a draft constitution NOT a binding and finalised one.Nothing wrong with being prepared and giving examples or suggestions
Did other nations like the Czech Rep , Slovakia , Lithuania , Estonia , Ukraine , etc etc etc have a binding constitution and new government infrastructure already setup when they became independant? NO
Was it a problem? NO
Have any of them regretted this and moved back to unionism? NO
Actually if there was a binding political system in place that we where immediately pushed into I would be very suspicious.
Have these "binding constitutions" remained unchanged since? NO
As of 2011, the (Czech)constitu tion has been amended five times
en.wikipedia.org/.../...
As I pointed out earlier, Belgium had NO executive government for over 450 days and the only thing that happened was an economic boom (they even outpreformed Switzerland) social media was used to form street parties to lampoon politions,while the rest of Europe rioted because of austerity measures(but the government blamed youths,immigran ts and anarchists!...While supporting armed terrorsits in Lybia!??!?!?) So I would NOT worry about not having a written and agreed constitution in place.
We have not had a constitution for a very long time in the UK, so why is it an issue for an independent Scotland?
en.wikipedia.org/.../...
IMHO The constitution is IRRELEVANT compared to a direct democracy political system!
With direct democracy the people are soverign and therefore do not really need a constitution, as we would still have human rights ,laws etc.
Here is a post explaining why I support direct democracy ,its arrests the guilty ,while representative democracies protect the guilty!
cuthulan.wordpress.com/.../...
BUT This is indeed a great oppertunity BUT we must become independent first. This topic should be about making people realise the chance of real change and
real freedom and prosperity that comes with independence.
Here is a recent post as to why I fanatically support Scottish independence.
cuthulan.wordpress.com/.../...
I would say to the people ,we will follow Icelands constitutional path ,after we achieve independence.
Also Would an independent Scotland be financially sound? YES OF COURSE IT WOULD!!!!!!
cuthulan.wordpress.com/.../...

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# sneckedagain 2012-08-02 16:23
I would certainlt expect an independent Scotland to provide a written constitution at the earliest but I would seriously hope that it was designed in the widest possible manner avoiding being overly prescriptive.
exel and others are calling for a written constitution now because they know how complicated and divisive designing one would be.
There are a number of countries which function adequately without a written constitution - the UK and New Zealand for instance - so a written constitution agreed before the referendum is of marginal importance.
UK is governed by precedent which has useful aspects as it changes when circumstances change. The written American constitution has left them with the situation thay any Tom, Dick or Hank can walk into gun store and purchase a sub-machine gun
 
 
# exel 2012-08-02 22:14
sneckedagain 2012-08-02 17:23
“I would certainlt expect an independent Scotland to provide a written constitution at the earliest but I would seriously hope that it was designed in the widest possible manner avoiding being overly prescriptive.”

Which roughly translated means a constitution which does not put any restriction on the way political parties operate.

"exel and others are calling for a written constitution now because they know how complicated and divisive designing one would be."

There is nothing complicated about designing a constitution for Scotland, nor anything divisive.

It has been proved over centuries, by hundreds of countries, the state which operates under a codified constitution (amendable by agreement by the electorate) is less divisive than an unwritten constitution changed at the whim of political parties at the behest of a minority of the electorate."

“There are a number of countries which function adequately without a written constitution - the UK and New Zealand for instance - so a written constitution agreed before the referendum is of marginal importance.”

Yes of course dictatorships function adequately also. But no one describes them as a democracy.

“UK is governed by precedent which has useful aspects as it changes when circumstances change. The written American constitution has left them with the situation thay any Tom, Dick or Hank can walk into gun store and purchase a sub-machine gun.”

The American constitution can be amended at the wish of the citizens of the United States of America. As I have already said change at the “Whim of political parties” is not democratic.
 
 
# Galen10 2012-08-03 07:47
@ exel 2012-08-02 23:14

"Which roughly translated means a constitution which does not put any restriction on the way political parties operate."

That's not what snecked again said, and you don't know from the post that's what he intended. even if he did, it is up to the Scottish people to decide whether a future constitution places "more" restrictions on how parties operate or "less"; it kinda depends what you mean. Most progressively inclined people would probably prefer a written constitution with more of a separation of powers. Trying to second guess or dictate what the people will decide hardly seems very democratic, nor does it seem that sensible to insist on such discussions being held over the next few years when we don't know what the terms of the dissolution of the Union will be, or what the economic and political situation will be at the time.


"There is nothing complicated about designing a constitution for Scotland, nor anything divisive."

If there is nothing complicated about it, then it can safely be deferred until later. What is potentially divisive is wasting time having the debate over the next two years when we aren't in possession of the full facts of the settlement and situation globally, and also provoking a well founded argument about the mandate and legitimacy of the body which you would have decide on the constitution. Despite being asked repeatedly to answer that question you refuse to do so; the only conclusion must be that you have no answer.


"The American constitution can be amended at the wish of the citizens of the United States of America. As I have already said change at the “Whim of political parties” is not democratic."

A balance has to be struck; the US system can hardly be viewed as perfect either; the constiution can be amended by the parties there too if they have enough votes in congress.
 
 
# sneckedagain 2012-08-03 18:20
I wont be wasting anymore time debating with exel or addressing any of his distortions.
I don't know if he thinks it is obligatory to keep digging when in a hole but the puerility of much of his response indicates that the thinks he is clever and the rest of us are daft.
 

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