How a written constitution would rebalance democracy in Scotland – The National
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How a written constitution would rebalance democracy in Scotland
SCOTLAND has been an integrated nation for more than 1100 years, providing many Scots who were active on the international scene – eg contributing to the US Constitution. Remember also that Scottish universities provided many of the administrators for the British Empire.
Currently in the UK, power, land, and taxation have been harnessed primarily for the benefit of a privileged minority. When Scotland regains self-governance, we must ensure that power and authority is better balanced and administered for the common wellbeing. That is the job of a Constitution for Scotland.
The gap between the haves and have-nots of the UK will continue to widen, lubricated by the crocodile tears of the Establishment, and the corporate media. This, however, is the result of power, unrestrained by a sound constitution and disguised as democracy. This is not for most Scots; it does not suit our temperament or personality.
We have nothing but goodwill and friendly rivalry towards our English cousins but we do not like the style of government that prevails there. So, it is time to go, once more to do our own thing in our own way. Scotland has the resources, the economic experience, and the people skills to be an influential sovereign nation.
When we regain independence, we will have the opportunity to make changes to suit Scottish needs and priorities, such as promoting green economy jobs to tackle fuel poverty and rebuilding after the damage done by Brexit to our export trade. Otherwise, what is the point of it?
Sample changes include realistic pensions (eg, £209-plus per week), properly funded public services, suitable housing policies, welcoming workers to develop our society, re-establishing the Erasmus system, having more say in local government decision-making. These are only a few of the desirable improvements we would be able to implement when we control our own resources and strengthen our democracy.
When Scotland is self-governing, our relationship with England will change. We will become a highly desirable trading partner as we will have surplus water, electricity, oil and gas, as well as a range of high-quality food and drink to trade. Highly populated England imports all these by necessity, and we will be a well-established trading partner.
Scotland has always been a trading nation, trading for mutual benefit with other nations, and international trade is a major key to further developing our economy. The flexibility gained by being outside the UK will enable us to reform and expand the strong trading bonds that we previously enjoyed with Europe and other nations. If we start to present independence as the means of making beneficial changes and, yes, perhaps taking a few political “risks” along the way, then that may not be what the politicians advise but it is what a lot of knowledgeable Scots are demanding. And surely the opportunity to reconstruct the basic democratic system would motivate a handsome majority of us in Scotland to vote Yes.
Let’s look at some potential changes to the democratic system itself because until that is revised little will change. First consider the Parliament and our elected representatives. They come in all shapes and sizes but have one thing in common – as candidates for election, most are selected by their party machine and if they should step out of line, they will live out their time as eccentrics on the back benches.
Why not have Constituency Assemblies to select candidates?
When self-governing we are, only members of Scottish-registered parties and individual members should be entitled to form our Parliament and that will mean political priorities will change.
At present, many in Scotland vote for parties based on whether they stand for or against independence, rather than their policies or what they have or have not achieved for their constituents.
A significant area likely to change will be the mixture of those who influence “power”. Currently, parliamentarians, local authorities, civil servants, large landowners, large businesses, unions, universities, pressure groups, particular individuals and so on all exert influence on both the status quo and how the nation is run.
READ MORE: Robert Ingram: How an independent Scotland could have a real democracy
When we become self-governing the mix will remain but is likely to be proportioned differently. Into the mix, would we not also want Citizens’ Assemblies at both parliamentary and at constituency levels as well as recreating burgh and or area councils to empower the electorate on local issues?
Another important potential area for change must be our outdated feudal system of land tenure where current increases in land values are mainly going into the pockets of only a few hundred big landowners. Some act as responsible carers of land and communities but many are more concerned with stashing their unearned bounty into tax havens to avoid paying their share of due taxes. Instead, these unearned increases could be paid as a form of land rent to fund the public services in place of the unfit-for-purpose council tax and business rates.
www.constitutionforscotland.scot is a registered Scottish charity with the aim of advancing participative democracy within the community of Scotland. On the website you can join more than 11,000 visitors, almost 1000 registered users and participate in writing ideas like this into a Constitution for Scotland.
To interested groups, the Constitution for Scotland team offers a “Guest Speaker” introduction, demonstration and Q&A session within your own Zoom meeting. Please contact [email protected]
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Callum Baird, Editor of The National
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