Dr Mark McNaught: Scotland will need a constitution, so let's make one

Dr Mark McNaught explains a new initiative aimed at crowdsourcing a Scottish constitution

ARGUABLY, a principal reason that the Yes vote did not prevail in 2014 is that there was not enough exploration of the constitutional possibilities of independence. Rather, the debate was heavily weighted towards its purportedly calamitous effects.

For example, the use of the pound was highlighted to demonstrate the lack of post-independence planning, underpinned by George Osborne’s bluster. The inference was that if Scots voted Yes, they would not have a currency to use.

These ludicrous assertions were invariably at the expense of exploring the constitutional possibilities afforded by independence, informed by the most enlightened constitutionalism available to build the foundations of a Scottish Republic.

There are reasons for this lack of constitutional debate. Given that the UK does not have a written constitution, there is little appreciation of what it would mean to have one. The hostility and manipulation of the press made it very difficult as well, in addition to the opacity of how the Westminster system works. Many other variables were also at play.

If there had been a proper empirical debate in 2014, the economic issue would have centred around not which currency an independent Scotland would be deprived of, but that it would have the competence to create or join one based on an objective empirical analysis of the currency options, unencumbered by Westminster influence.

As a second independence referendum begins to appear on the horizon, it is important to plough the terrain for the debate to come. For a Yes vote to solidly prevail, it is indispensable that the debate shift from economics and the contrived pitfalls of independence, to what is constitutionally possible so that economic, social and all other types of policy can be planned and implemented in Scotland in accordance with the popular will.

Our principal objective is to explore what Scotland can become politically and constitutionally after independence.

Co-founded by Peter A Bell and Dr Mark McNaught, Demos Scotland seeks to carve out a unique place in Scotland’s new media environment to foster such debate. We seek to establish an online oasis of reflective contemplation and rational civil argument away from the shrill and often fatuous mainstream media coverage.

Our principal objective is to explore what Scotland can become politically and constitutionally after independence. Even short of independence, there are many constitutional reforms that could be enacted without the assent of Westminster which would improve accountability and democracy.

Even in the absence of an official independence campaign, there is no reason why people of good will cannot cooperate now to design the entire constitutional, institutional, legal, and treaty-informed structure of an independent Scottish republic.

Demos Scotland shall seek to fulfill that role, and be an incubator for constitutional ideas, and develop a Scottish constitutional system and legal framework to be potentially ratified once independence is achieved.

While there is no way of knowing if it would ultimately become the definitive Scottish constitution, it will at the very least be submitted for consideration for whatever organisation is put in place to achieve this end.

In any case, join us in helping to chart Scotland’s constitutional future. We need all the collective wisdom we can get.

Come to our launch on Thursday 18 August – get your ticket here.

Or watch the whole event live right here on CommonSpace.

Picture courtesy of Graham Holliday

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