Tag Archives: SCC21st

Our constitution: index post

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.

This is what I want:

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:

  1. Independence and devolution
  2. Fixed term parliaments
  3. Parliamentary privileges
  4. Treaties and war
  5. Public scrutiny of legislation
  6. Head of State
  7. Prime Minister of Scotland
  8. Scottish Defence Forces
  9. Ensure civil service impartiality
  10. Ombudsman and Auditor-General
  11. Judicial independence
  12. European Convention of Human Rights
  13. Judicial review of constitutionality of laws
  14. Electoral Commission
  15. Provision of emergency powers
  16. Local government
  17. Oil reserves
  18. Public ethics

  19. “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:”

  20. Enhanced constitutional rights
  21. Additional checks and balances
  • (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.

Take the survey

Read some other constitutions at the Constitutional Commission.

Also: Why is Scotland’s constitution off the agenda? at Better Nation, and my own Moving Towards a Scottish Constitution guest blog.

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.

In autumn 2014, Scottish voters go to the polls for a referendum on independence, on which I also have views. But this series of posts is only incidentally about that.

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.”

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Filed under Scottish Constitution

Our constitution: beyond yes or no

I don’t know how I’m going to vote in autumn 2014. And so far, neither campaign has impressed me. I don’t trust Alex Salmond: I don’t trust Alistair Darling. If you’ve been reading my blog, you know why. I don’t trust the Conservatives or their faithful puppy-pack of LibDems: I’m not a nationalist, either for the UK or for Scotland. I’m not sold on flag-waving, and I don’t think I’m particularly patriotic.

But the SNP have a democratic mandate to hold a referendum on independence in autumn 2014 and I’ve never stepped back from voting in an election in my entire life – I’ve never spoiled a ballot, though I’ve been tempted more than once: I’ve always tried to figure out who I want to vote for, or at least, who I want to vote against.

And this is a big thing and I kind of envy the people who have made up their minds, who know which way they’re going to vote, and who can campaign wholeheartedly for their chosen cause – are we staying in the UK, are we going to become independent – without the host of doubts I have about either answer.

(I’m unalterably opposed to devomax / devoplus, by the way, and quite prepared to campaign wholeheartedly against that.)

Yes Scotland:

“We unite behind a declaration of self-evident truth: the people who live in Scotland are best placed to make the decisions that affect Scotland.” Alex Salmond, 25th May

Better Together:

“If we decide to leave the United Kingdom, there is no way back. It is like asking us to buy a one-way ticket to send our children to a deeply uncertain destination…” Alistair Darling, 25th June

I agree with both of them.

That’s my problem.

On Thursday night I went to A state fit for the 21st Century, organised by the Constitutional Commission Continue reading


Filed under Scottish Constitution, Scottish Culture, Scottish Politics

A Scottish Constitutional Convention for the 21st Century

We, gathered as the Scottish Constitutional Convention, do hereby acknowledge the sovereign right of the Scottish people to determine the form of Government best suited to their needs, and do hereby declare and pledge that in all our actions and deliberations their interests shall be paramount.

We further declare and pledge that our actions and deliberations shall be directed to the following ends:

To agree a scheme for a Constitution for Scotland;

To mobilise Scottish opinion and ensure the approval of the Scottish people for that scheme; and

To assert the right of the Scottish people to secure implementation of that scheme.

Whether you intend now to vote yes, no, to spoil the ballot with some well-considered suggestion as to the future happiness of all those involved, or don’t know.

Edinburgh Coffee House:

What kind of country do you want to live in? What would you change about the world around you? If you could start all over again, what would you create? Let socialists convince us with elaborate schemes of wealth redistribution. Let Greens set sky-high environmental targets. Let Liberals, Conservatives, monarchists and republicans paint beautiful pictures of the utopia they would create when given a blank canvas.

After a year or so of this, assemble the finest minds from politics, law, academia and the unions to draft a constitution. With this, the voters in 2014 will have something to endorse or reject, rather than simply the concept of independence.


Filed under Scottish Constitution, Scottish Culture, Scottish Politics

A new claim of right for Scotland

Repeatedly in discussions on Twitter, which admittedly is not the place for subtlety, pro-independence Scots have told me that the thing that matters is winning the Yes vote – “Everything else” can get worked out post-indy.

This is indescribably foolish.

One, because presumably they are attempting to convince me to vote Yes, and I’ll vote for status-quo devolution if they’ve got nothing more in the pot to offer but “We want you to vote yes!” Telling me that this is the “wrong attitude” to take to the independence referendum? Well, fine, but it’s my attitude: you can’t convince me to vote yes by refusing to engage with me.

Two, because realistically: I understand that the proposed timescale for independence is two years after a “yes” vote wins. Assuming that the Yes vote does win, that means four or so years from today, Scotland would be an independent nation.

That is none too much time to begin the Constitutional Convention to discuss what form and structure the new nation should have.

I wrote about the work of the Constitutional Convention in the 1990s Continue reading


Filed under Equality, Human Rights, Scottish Constitution, Scottish Culture, Scottish Politics