Between 1989 and 1995, the first Scottish Constitutional Convention drew up the blueprint for our Scottish Parliament. I believe there should be a Scottish Constitutional Convention for the 21st century: that while the Yes Scotland and the Better Together campaigns battle it out, the rest of us should be looking at who we are and what we are: our vision for Scotland.
I am not fond of inspirational rhetoric about what I ought to feel about my country – Scotland or Britain. I am not convinced by arguments that appeal to my patriotism or that try to scare me into voting one way or another.
What this process has proved is that constructive consensus is achievable, even among those steeped in the ritual confrontations of British politics. That lesson is immensely encouraging, not just for the project of designing a Scottish Parliament, but for the much more important question of how the Parliament will work once it is in place. We see the consensus that this report represents as a beacon of hope for a new and better politics in a Scotland running its own affairs. We have been struck by the way argument has generated understanding and respect, rather than acrimony. Every decision has been reached by agreement. None has been taken by majority vote. When the prize is big enough, purpose can overcome obstinacy.
All the Scottish Constitution posts in this series:
- Independence and devolution
- Fixed term parliaments
- Parliamentary privileges
- Treaties and war
- Public scrutiny of legislation
- Head of State
- Prime Minister of Scotland
- Scottish Defence Forces
- Ensure civil service impartiality
- Ombudsman and Auditor-General
- Judicial independence
- European Convention of Human Rights
- Judicial review of constitutionality of laws
- Electoral Commission
- Provision of emergency powers
- Local government
- Oil reserves
- Public ethics
- Enhanced constitutional rights
“To create a constitutional order that reflects a broad public commitment to a more inclusive, egalitarian, and communitarian way, and to mark Scotland out as a ‘progressive beacon’, the following additional provisions might be considered:”
- (a) Economic rights (minimum wage, right to collective bargaining)
- (b) Social rights (right to universal healthcare, education)
- (c) Cultural rights (ie for Gaelic, Scots)
- (d) Environmental rights (eg prohibition of nuclear power)
- (e) Rights to the Commons (eg water, access to countryside)
- (f) Sectional Rights (eg rural rights: a “Crofter’s Charter”)
- (g) Affirmative action for women, people with disabilities, ethnic minorities (poverty, religion, gender identity, sexual orientation)
- (a) Second ‘revising’ chamber with powers of amendment and delay
- (b) A minority-veto referendum mechanism, or petition-triggered abrogative referendums / citizens’ initiatives
- (c) “Citizens’ review panels” selected by lot to scrutinise legislation
- (d) Directly elected executive provosts
And the introductory posts: A new claim of right for Scotland, A Scottish Constitutional Convention for the 21st Century, Our constitution: beyond yes or no.
I decided in at the end of June to do a series of posts through July on my thoughts about a Scottish Constitution, using as a framework an excellent summary I was given at A state fit for the 21st Century.
I am not a lawyer. I am not employed by otherwise connected with or speaking on behalf of the Constitutional Commission. I welcome objections, caveats, better-informed comments clarifying or correcting any misunderstandings or mistakes I’ve made, references to other sources of information, and if you start blogging about this too, links to other blogposts.
As for the independence referendum – I’m undecided. As yet neither Yes Scotland nor Better Together have particularly convinced me. I don’t know how I’ll vote in autumn 2014. I’d like a campaign for a constitution to be independent of either campaign, not tied to any party.
Update, 16th October:
- If Scotland votes Yes in autumn 2014, independence will require a constitution.
- If Scotland votes No in autumn 2014, the crowdsourced constitution could be instituted as the framework for more powers for Scotland.
“To establish the Scottish State as a stable, effective parliamentary democracy that upholds fundamental rights and serves the common-weal of the people.”