Start with a Single Step

So, let’s imagine ourselves in the not-too-distant future. We’ve fought another independence referendum and, this time, we’ve won. Scotland shall be an independent country.

What now?

Back in the last campaign, we posited an 18 month negotiation phase to sort out things like the split of debt and assets and how we’d share government functions into a transition phase (a fair bit of civil service work is done in rUK for Scotland and quite a bit of social security and pension admin is, or was at the time, done in Scotland for England).

But 2014 was an eternity ago in political talk and the landscape of the independence campaign has changed significantly and so must our approach to it.

Common Weal’s new book, How to Start a New Country, doesn’t deal directly with the question of should we be an independent country but it does lay out a blueprint of what we need to do once we’ve decided that we should.

Some have questioned the need for this – after all, if we don’t get that Yes vote then all of this planning is for naught, isn’t it? But there’s an object lesson ongoing nearby which shows what happens when one clings too tightly to that stance. Look at Brexit. More than 18 months after the EU referendum and the decision for the UK to Leave the European Union, the UK Government is so far away from coming to even a semblance of agreement over basic strategy even within itself that the EU has simply gotten fed up waiting and has published its own draft treaty. I expect that the final version will soon be passed over to David Davis with a pen and a polite request to either sign or walk away. This is obviously the very opposite of a “Strong and Stable” negotiating position – at least, from the perspective of the UK.

So, assuming that Scotland doesn’t want to find itself in a similarly clueless position, we should start planning now so that we can get cracking as soon as we can.

In writing this book we also sought to take as future-policy neutral a position as we could on as much as we could, it’s certainly not our place to tell people what kind of Scotland we HAVE to be – though we certainly have views on what kind of Scotland we’d LIKE to be.

There are inevitable limits to this. One thing we don’t want to do is weaken our case for independence by giving the power of veto on our negotiations to the UK – this is what torpedoed our debate about currency last time; no matter the economics of a currency union, the UK could and did simply say “No” – so we’ve designed this timeline based on the stance that Scotland asks the UK for as little as possible and thus stands in as strong a negotiating position as it can. As it turns out though, there’s probably not much that we need anyway. Whilst Scotland’s “share” of the UK’s debts may stand at something like £150 billion, the value of the assets that we might need to set up a new country, including the costs of building up foreign reserves for a new currency and equipping a new defence force, might only stand at about £25 billion. So when the rUK comes round saying again that if we don’t take the UK’s debt then we don’t get any assets we might well say “Fine. We’ll just buy the stuff we need ourselves.”

Incidentally, the fact that the rUK requires recognition as the “continuing state” of the former UK so that it can keep its permanent seat on the UN Security Council – much as Russia upon the demise of the USSR – may well prove to be the deciding factor in it laying claim to all of the UK’s debts and mobile assets just as it did in 2014.

How to Start a New Country is the culmination of our 18 month long White Paper Project and, as such, covers everything from transition costs, through finding the people with the skills we need, building the infrastructure, government departments and IT systems required in a 21st century nation-state, out to securing the foundations of our democracy via a written constitution and a fair, modern tax system.

We’re not downplaying the challenge of all of this. Many of these jobs will be hard work. Some might even be quite difficult – although that’s rarely stopped other independent countries from doing them. We do, however, believe that they’ll be worth doing and that as many people will find the act of doing them inspiring as there will be those who see those tasks as daunting. Independence offers a once-in-a-lifetime chance to do some of these things and to do them right – once a state is running and inertia sets in, change becomes harder. Imagine the UK deciding to tear up its entire tax code and starting from scratch. Even if the desire was there, the political will simply couldn’t be. But if we plan now. If we lay out the groundwork before the task is thrust upon us, we can embrace the change and transform a new country and an entire nation of people.

*

How to Start a New Country is being published in two formats. The full version is available for £10 and a shorter, summarised version for £5. A package of both books can be purchased for £12. Copies can be pre-ordered on the CommonWeal shop allofusfirst.bigcartel.com and will ship by 8 March.

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  1. John Stuart Wilson says:

    “the value of the assets that we might need to set up a new country, including the costs of building up foreign reserves for a new currency and equipping a new defence force, might only stand at about £25 billion”

    That is less than half what the currency alone requires.

    Denmark is a real-world model of what is going to be required. They are of similar size and prosperity, and like us they share a border with a much larger currency with which they do the preponderance of their trade.

    Unlike us, they have real-world experience running a central bank and managing a currency peg. They also have a track record, which means the markets are inclined to give them a bit of a benefit of the doubt.

    The Danes find it prudent to keep the equivalent of £55 billion in reserves to back their currency.

    If it could be done for less, they would be doing it.

    1. Morag MacIssac says:

      Where there is a will there is a way!

      Do we as a nation continue to be abused and misruled by another country as we have been been for 300 years or do we become a normal country making our own laws and carving our own way in the world?

      It’s evident to all on here you lack self confidence in yourself and your country, you feel you have little worth and are dependent on others, these are issues only you can deal with, I wish you all the best!

      1. John Stuart Wilson says:

        “Where there is a will there is a way!”

        Correct. If the people of Scotland are willing to endure the kind of genuine austerity that produces primary budget deficits – the sort of higher taxes and greatly reduced benefits and services that Greece is going through – for a couple of decades, then we will have the level of reserves needed to give us a hard currency.

  2. Richard MacKinnon says:

    Then I awake and look around me, at the four grey walls that surround me
    and I realize, yes, I was only dreaming.
    For there’s Ruth Davidson and there’s David Mundell –
    arm in arm they walk till daybreak.
    Keeping their eye on the green green grass of home.

  3. Graeme McCormick says:

    We can raise £100 billion by charging an Annual Ground Rent of £7.124 on urban land types and floorspace each year to ensure we have the means to meet our public services and a basic citizen income of £10,000 per annum for everyone.

    This will replace all existing taxes. Not only will this insulate our public services from the vagaries of global financiers with no need to borrow but will allow our businesses to be the most competitive in the world

    1. Crubag says:

      £7,124 on what? A hectare?

    2. Mr T says:

      I’m very well paid and so far this year have paid just over £100k in PAYE and NI (personal & employer), then I’ve paid more in VAT, Council tax etc. This on earnings so far of £181k.

      I don’t know what measurement you are going to charge your £7.124 on, but let’s assume it’s m2. I can assure you that I have nowhere near 14,000 M2 of land & floor space (£100k / 7.124). Sounds like I’m going to be paying much less tax than before!

  4. Socrates MacSporran says:

    I would never under-estimate how difficult it will prove to be in sorting-out our “divorce” from Mother England, who will I suspect be shocked and stunned by our ungrateful act of walking away from her tender, loving embrace. Westminster will wish to play hard ball, but, I think that will be the easy part, splitting from there.

    Many years of covering sport in Scotland has taught me, there is a mind-set among those in authority in Scotland, best identified by Allan Massie, in a Scotsman piece about a decade ago. Allan called it: “Aye Beenism”, as in: “Naw Son, it’s aye been din this wey and aye will be.”

    Getting away from Westminster – easy – getting our civil servants and council officials and councillors to depart from the old ways – that will be the hard part of building the new Scotland.

  5. Willie says:

    Thursday morning 9.00am.

    Sitting in my lounge marvelling at how the heavy snow has left so many of us marooned in a snow bound country my thoughts darken on reading the shock warning that less than 24 hours after the snow commenced, National Grid is warning that the UK could run out of gas.

    Accordingly, National Grid is calling for people to burn less gas.

    Brings into sharp focus what a screwed up country we live in. But we know that, and in truth we should not be surprised.

    1. Richard MacKinnon says:

      Willie,
      Thats why I always make a visit to my daughter in Australia at this time of year. Excellent place. Strict immigration controls as you would expect but a criminal record is no longer a requirement.
      Ive been checking the news on the home front, flurry of snow in the central belt I believe. Think yourself lucky man. Severe weather? Let me assure you Willie, its so hot out here I am forced to wear a ridiculous looking hat, a ‘baseball cap’ the son in law calls it.
      All you can do from 9 in the morning until the sun goes down (whenever that is) is stay in the shade and never for a minute neglect the fluid levels.
      Anyway, back next week. Make sure the runway is clear.
      Best regards,
      Richard
      (temporary posting) Perth WA

      1. Mathew says:

        Perhaps there’s a connection between the long haul flights you take and the increasingly severe weather.

        1. Richard MacKinnon says:

          Mathew,
          Perhaps there is. You’ll be telling me not to fart next.
          Sorry, no can do.

  6. We parallel the Brexit timetable and EU27 Transition cut off date.
    Indyref 2 between October 2018- March2019, when Article 50 expires, with full Independence by December 2020, the EU’s Decree Absolute date.
    Many of our Public Bodies, LA’s Universities, Civil Service, Health Boards are run by Brit Nat Placements, in post since the bad old days of New Labour and Jack MacConnell’s Car Crash Government.
    Hence all those corrupt PFI PPP and ‘Arms Length’ New Labour Neo liberal ‘deals’ with the Boys’ pockets suitably lined with ‘incentives’.
    It is ridiculous that we are paying 1 third of a million to scores of public officials who hjave bumped up their own packages unchallenged because Labour were in power. It carried on into the Blue Tory/Lib Dem era, and has gathered momentum under Cameron/May/ Corbyn and that hopelessly ineffectual little man Mundell.
    It will be damned hard work, but I am confident that two or three million of us are up for the fight, relish the challenge, and shall not rest until Scotland takes its rightful place as a sovereign nation once more.
    On the political front, I’d drive the Robber Barons off the land they seized by bloody slaughter 300/400 years ago.
    And that’s just for starters.

  7. SleepingDog says:

    Or you could sort out the terms of leaving the UK during a UK-wide constitutional convention where the balance to be struck will be between increasing the friendliness of departure terms while raising the bar of the leave vote (I’ve suggested this approach in more detail in a previous comment).

    The benefits of doing this are several, including the reduction of fear and uncertainty; allowing concentration on the constitutional choice of independence ; reducing the threat of post-independence malicious interference; opening discussions and decision-making to the public rather than party negotiators/horse-traders; ensuring a large majority of support and buy-in in the independent nation; smoothing and shortening the leave process; reducing the chance and impact of derailment events (natural, unplanned or intentional); reassuring the electorate including doubters and UK loyalists; focusing the questions on long-term issues rather than a timed bounce across an artificial first-past-the-post popularity contest.

    1. A ‘UK wide Constitutional Convention’? Are you Douglas Alexander, Bono’s Bagman?
      You lost me there.
      We preach Revolution, ‘Sleeping Dog’.
      As the adage goes, ‘let sleeping dogs lie’, in both senses of the verb.
      We are done with listening to our Imperial Masters, whoever you are.
      Grasp the thistle, piss or get off the pot.
      There will be nothing ‘harmonious’ in breaking with Empire 2.
      NO more Mr and Mrs Nice Guy.
      Blair Jenkins will not be fronting the next bout.

      1. SleepingDog says:

        @Jack, you can adopt parallel strategies, pushing on wide front. Its not an exclusive choice of revolution or reform. Nor, indeed, the ballot and the bullet. These are false choices promoted to serve specific agendas.

        The article makes the comparison with Brexit. The chaos in the leave process is evidently related to a lack of a formal mechanism. Brexit has also revealed the creaking corruption of the UK constitution. You might be able to get a broad popular consensus in the UK for a fundamental constitutional rewrite process, a process which is often associated with (and required by) revolution.

        Indeed, Scottish nationalists may be able to extract concessions from such a process difficult to obtain by other means (such as formal recognition of membership status), and work with allies in other parts of the UK. If the process stalls or fails, the momentum to continue the work of nation-building in Scotland alone may give a critical boost to the independence movement.

        If psychology is essentially the study of comparisons, and the independence movement’s goal is to steer the inhabitants of Scotland towards a psychological frame favouring an independent Scotland, then making more comparisons than simple binary choices might help people decide. For example, the USAmerican civil rights movement might have been helped rather than hindered by the differences and tensions between the militant and reformist wings as they pursued alternative paths towards broadly common goals.

        An antagonistic leave procedure will give rUK much more leeway to interfere in an independent Scotland, and it won’t necessarily be the obvious plants in official posts you’ll have to worry about then. Perhaps we agree that a constitutional route to a smoothed/high-bar leaving process will have to be forced on a resistant UK establishment, but if you can do that with the cooperation of, and ultimate benefit to, the rest of the UK population, the reality rather than the fragile dream of Scottish independence comes closer. And if leaving becomes a natural, planned-for, accommodated, costed, swift and terror-free process, you may get the support you need to cross a much higher bar than 50%+1 of one day’s voting.

        And you don’t have to give up your revolutionary plotting either.

        1. I am uneasy addressing a pseudonym, SD, but here goes.
          We have the evidence of the past 300 years that the ‘civilised’ approach, a UK Convention, ‘You might be able to get a broad popular consensus in the UK for a fundamental constitutional rewrite process, a process which is often associated with (and required by) revolution.’ is just so much sophistry.
          From the Aliens Act, the Parcel of Rogues selling Scotland for dosh, through to the Rape of our Oil Fields, the English have previous.
          As long as the 85% can vote down Scotland, we shall always be treated as occupied territories.
          Witness the scant disregard for the safety and well being of the citizens of Norn Irn. The GFA has been ripped to shreds, because it no longer suits the English Parliament to maintain an internationally binding agreement.
          I and many hundreds of thousands, if not millions, from all walks of life, from all belief systems, certainly chose Self Determination by making comparisons.
          We’ve had enough.
          We are in the ridiculous situation where David Mundell is in fact Governer General of the Scottish Colony; our Scottish Parliament is sidelined by WM.
          Two pivotal papers on Scotland in the EU post Brexit never made it past David Davis’ rubbish basket.
          Yet you advocater that we sit down with these bordr line, and in some cases full blown, psychopaths and negotiate Seld Dteremination.
          Please may we be self governing?
          The eye is on the prize. A Yes vote for Self Determination, and a Transition to that end, with England fully aware that we are leaving them on their own at last.
          England doesn’t need an excuse, a reason, to be more antagonistic; it’s in their Imperial nature to burn the crops as they retreat back to the Motherland.
          I have no problem with civility, but behaviour breeds behaviour.
          WE are sick fed up being ignored and ridiculed.
          I care not a jot about not upsetting the English.
          They will do everything they can to hold on to the real estate in the North, including shipping off all 5 million of us to the colonies in Australia, New Zealand, and Canada.
          “What is the State for? What are the purposes of its institutions? Can we look abroad to find interesting and relevant examples of good practice? Certainly the independence question has raised interest about places like Catalonia and Quebec.”
          Couldn’t agree more.
          But that is as an aside to the pressing need to gain Self Determination in the first place before England and Wales attempt to bend us to their will, and destroy Scotland, and resurrect the war in Ireland.
          Time is short. We have to thank the English Exceptionalists for that.

          1. John Stuart Wilson says:

            “They will do everything they can to hold on to the real estate in the North”

            Like, for example, enabling a legally binding referendum on Scottish independence?

            The bastards….

          2. SleepingDog says:

            @Jack, a statement cannot be sophistry if it can simply be tested by evidence. If you take a look at a list of national constitutions, you will find many that are the result of revolutionary demands. From Bolivar to Greece, from France to the USA.
            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Constitution_of_Greece
            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Constitutional_history_of_Bolivia

            A written constitution can be seen as a contract which implicitly or explicitly enshrines the right of revolution, if the State fails to fulfil its role.

            I can only speak for myself, as an independent voice. I notice you claim to speak for many others, the “we”. Generally this requires some kind of appointment process, and I recommend mandateable recallable delegates over the typical UK representative kind, otherwise revolutionaries can sound like vanguardist Bolsheviks intent on outmanoeuvring the Constitution-building Soviets (working people’s councils).

            I am interested in the content of the White Paper discussed by the article, but I would also like to know if there was a Green (consultation) Paper which informed the direction of the White Paper (as is usual in policy circles). The best-laid plans, and all that. There’s a scene in the Simpsons where Homer has prepared a comedy sketch, only for just before he can start someone rushes into the auditorium shouting that a puppy has been run over in the car park. This suggests to me that an agreed and automated process that just needs a YES switch on is far less liable to derailment (or ganging aglae). During the Northern Ireland (Good Friday) peace talks, weirdly some commentators were demanding that they should be halted if a single violent attack should occur, handing huge power to disgruntled individuals, groups or states. Thankfully, the stupidity of this position was repeatedly pointed out, and the call reversed.

            As far as the rUK losing its UN Security Council permanent seat, that could be an objective for people wanting more widespread global change, perhaps triggering the end to the current structure of the United Nations with incalculable repercussions.

  8. John Stuart Wilson says:

    “You might be able to get a broad popular consensus in the UK for a fundamental constitutional rewrite process”

    Then again, you might not. My impression is that people really don’t place a very high priority on these things, and are simply tired of being told to they have to think about them.

    So I don’t see your convention ever happening. Your presumed motivation for Scotland’s participation is clear: you think it is a clever path to independence, given that winning on the simple binary question seems more and more out of reach. But, given that…what motivation does “the rUK” have to participate in the process?

    1. SleepingDog says:

      @John, I’m not sure why people can be expected to place a high priority on independence yet a low priority on the composition of the state. At the moment, I can foresee several events which are likely to precipitate the UK into a constitutional debate in the near future.

      Who expects an independent Scotland without a new, written constitution developed by popular participation and consent? Going through a UK procedure would be valuable practice.

      I don’t think it is a “clever” path; it is fairly obvious, been suggested before, and there is no trickery involved. Its very openness and inclusiveness is in its favour. Whether any member leaves the UK afterwards or no, the people under a modern constitution should benefit considerably, not least by citizenship (not subject) rights and removal of the murky and dangerous abuses of power the status quo currently supports. So a lot of motivation, then.

      One major benefit of a first-principles approach is to counter what @Socrates above calls “Aye Beenism”, the apathy based on the false supposition that there are social constructs that have always been and always will be. What is the State for? What are the purposes of its institutions? Can we look abroad to find interesting and relevant examples of good practice? Certainly the independence question has raised interest about places like Catalonia and Quebec.

      When the State fails in one or more of its primary functions (say, if it cannot provide security or safety or livelihoods or, topically, gas in winter), or if alternative organisations are seen to do better, or the hypocrisy behind authority is stripped bare perhaps by naked use of force, the people have great incentive to remake or retake it. The UK state’s rare past continuity is precisely what has led to its current perilous condition, unable to effectively modernise or democratise, bursting with awful secrets and appalling histories that require vast resources to suppress or divert attention from.

      Rather than seeing people’s incuriosity about the structure of social order as natural, I see it as artificially constructed by a huge propaganda effort, consumer-based bribery and mass distraction. And thus fragile.

      1. John Stuart Wilson says:

        “I’m not sure why people can be expected to place a high priority on independence yet a low priority on the composition of the state.”

        But only about 1/3 of Scots DO “place a higher priority on independence”. Look at the polls. There is a double digit gap between Scots who say they support independence and Scots who say they want a second independence referendum.

        Now on top of that, you’ve got to find a reason why the people of the rUK should start placing a high priority on constitutional wrangling. Good luck with that.

        “I can foresee several events which are likely to precipitate the UK into a constitutional debate in the near future.”

        Can you list them?

        1. SleepingDog says:

          @John, I mentioned some categories of State failure (“provide security or safety or livelihoods or, topically, gas in winter”) which are likely in my view to provoke constitutional (in the broad sense) debate, but some specific examples might include:
          a) death of the Queen
          b) being on the losing side in a conflict
          c) collapse of currency, financial services sector or global monetary systems
          d) discovery of life in the solar system (unprecedented events are more difficult to predict consequences for)
          e) a scandal that goes to the heart of the establishment with coverups and innocent victims
          f) cyberattack
          g) nuclear incident of various types
          h) pandemic or health care collapse
          i) high-ranking establishment figures brought to trial before an international criminal court
          j) corruption breaking point
          k) public humiliation of royals or prime minister (a Ceausescu moment)
          l) artificial intelligence breakthroughs which disrupt the regulation of society
          m) collapse of judicial system, say from overload, IT disaster, subversion…
          n) major (or several concurrent minor) environmental disaster(s), especially if predicted, and especially if causing widespread contamination of food, water, air
          o) historically high incidences of childhood diseases of poverty
          p) release/leak of state secrets which brings down government, discredits security services, army or police

          Our modern world is increasingly complex and highly networked, and full of adaptive agents whose behaviour changes unpredictably (and this now includes artificial intelligence agents which could cause a stock market crash, false or real threat indicators and automated cyberwar). Large effects can come from small causes, chaotically. My point is that although I have listed some event that may have large effects, I do not believe I can even assign weights or probabilities to any outcomes. Some such events may strengthen the State. Which straw breaks the camel’s back? Who knows? You can estimate that the camel is overloaded and likely to collapse at some point.

          I’m not sure what you imagine when I say “constitutional debate”, but if politics is the way we agree to live in groups large enough to include strangers, then constitutional debate is how we decide how one such group should operate. It’s pretty essential life-and-death stuff.

          1. John Stuart Wilson says:

            I don’t see a single thing on that list that would result in, say, the people of Cornwall suddenly thinking “we really need to rethink out constitution”. Several – but not all – of them would bring down the government of the day. But that’s it.

  9. Jack collatin says:

    @ sleeping dog. My last word on this pusillanimous ‘sophistry’.
    We are not Greece. WE are not Bolivia. My use of the first person plural does not imply that I have set myself up as the people’s champion, whereas your opinions are not those of an individual.
    The history of Scotland’s relationship with the British/English Empire is littered with perfidy.
    We are all out of ‘last straws’.
    I, you may note the perpendicular pronoun, will brook no argument.
    Presumably you would have me leave the room while you sensible chaps discussed a UK Constitution, which could be written into Scots Law when we achieved Self Determination.
    We would have input from England in drawing up a Scots document?

    Presumably this would provide a common framework, a brace of parallel Constitutions, a common set of values, standards and universal rights and obligations in place for that day when we become friendly like minded neighbours in some distant Decoupled Kingdom?
    Sophistry I say, sophistry I mean.
    None of your arguments are based on testable evidence. On the contrary, there is ample evidence that the Brit Establishment cannot be trusted as far as we can throw it.
    Ergo, your proposal is fallacious.

    A UK Constitutional Convention would be like the Smith Commission, during which our English Overlords would tell us via their Uncle MacToms, sorry tell me, what they were prepared to ‘allow’.
    Nuff sed.

  10. John Stuart Wilson says:

    The Smith Commission was made up representatives of all five of Scotland’s main political
    parties: Conservative, Green, Labour, Liberal Democrat and the SNP.

    You should probably try to get your anglophobia in check.

    1. Jack collatin says:

      Boring, Mr Wilson.
      I have not an ounce of Anglophobia in my body. But then, you know that.
      I’m done with this nonsense.

    2. Alf Baird says:

      The 533 MP’s in England can do as they please with Scotland, and they often do, even to the extent of totally ignoring Scotland and our people in their ‘British’ Cabinet meetings. They are indeed Scotland’s Overlords, as the brexit supreme court decision also confirmed. That is not ‘anglophobia’, it is merely an indisputable fact.

      1. Jack collatin says:

        Alf, I’m sure that you caught May’s ‘Five Tests’ speech today, which she described as ‘my’ vision. She declared that she was PM of the UK, and would get the best deal for the whole of the UK, ‘even’ Scotland Wales and Norn Irn.
        Not ‘including’, but ‘even’.
        I’m sure that I was not alone in noting the use of this humble little adverb, which hardly engenders in the Celtic listener a sense of inclusiveness.
        We are being dragged along despite ourselves.
        We are in the midst of England The Crack Up, The Tribe That Lost Its Head.
        Who is going to check the passports of the Pierres. Fritzes, and Antonios disembarking from the Belfast to Cairn Ryan ferry post Brexit?
        Arlene won’t like it.
        Yet Sleeping Dog recommends a UK Convention to work up a Scottish Constitution.

        1. Drew McKidd says:

          Roll reversal, imagine the First Minister referred to immigrants in Scotland and the need to extend friendship to them. And as a wee add in, the FM said even the English.

          Right minded people would be appalled!

        2. SleepingDog says:

          @Jack, my recommendation was not to trust politicians to draw up the rules of politics. To clarify, the type of constitution-writing process generally understood would require far greater public participation than anything ever seen in the UK. With digital technology, participation would nowadays be expected to far greater than in the days of the USA convention, and as I said, I recommend making delegates mandatable (they must follow the decision of their electors and not act on their own initiative) and recallable (the electorate can withdraw the delegate at any reasonable point and replace them).

          Consider that the UK unwritten constitution may be compared with an ancient piece of furniture, made from unsustainably pilfered colonial hardwood, much stained and full of dark corners and no doubt skeletons. It cannot be easily repurposed. Replace that with a modern, modular furniture like an IKEA design, and the system is immediately much more flexible and you can add and remove components as you wish. England is a sofa, Scotland a chair. This UKEA constitution may have many benefits for those wishing Scottish independence, and I will list some possibilities (although I do not necessarily think these are optimal options):

          making the Scottish Parliament constitutionally sovereign in Scotland would pave the way for independence by a unilateral declaration from that body;
          enshrining binding plebiscites under specified conditions may allow triggering of independence referendums regardless of Parliament;
          removing or optionalising the monarchy with a new constitution would likely weaken the monarchistic unionist support in Scotland;
          removal of unelected peers;
          electoral reform;
          access right for devolved parliaments to international bodies and international treaty negotiations;
          and so on.

          Other advantages of constitutional recognition would include defining the Scottish governing institutions as existing in their own right beyond the power of a UK Westminster government to repeal by Act of Parliament. In other words, provide ratchets to protect existing gains.

          You might sensibly expect to write new constitutional safeguards on the roles of security services, topical since the government has been forced to publicly state that MI5 is allowed under executive order to commit crimes within the UK. And defining new checks and balances may restrict certain interest groups from undue influence, for example in media or land ownership.

          There seems some incredulity that a written constitution could be a popular demand in the UK, but that is precisely what Charter 88 attempted and to some extent achieved within the last thirty years. Part of their campaign was an attempt to restrict executive authority which has always been abused in the UK. And I cannot think why working through a UK constitution would not be help to drawing up a Scottish constitution, which could take the best parts and reject the rest, as constitutions round the world do as a matter of course. And the potential to split the establishment (some of whom probably see the concessions in a written constitution as damage limitation, while others will see this as a far bigger threat than terrorism or socialism) should be embraced by those challenging the status quo.

          If you are unfamiliar with the arguments put forward by Charter 88, it may be worth looking them out (I think they have merged with other groups since). Their points will be largely applicable to a written Scottish constitution, should independence be achieved.

          None of this precludes other approaches, as I have said, nor do I advocate anyone diverting their independence efforts towards a constitutional solution (it is, of course, often possibly to pursue multiple strategies at the same time, conventionally labelled Plan A, Plan B, Plan C etc.). What I am saying is that it might be worth considering and supporting such a movement should it gain traction. It is not clear to me why you should object to that.

          1. Jack collatin says:

            Och, sleeping dog, this, from the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee:-

            “The Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee, a committee of MPs, would like to hear from the people of Scotland on what areas of devolution work best, and what areas most concern you. We have opened up a web forum for you to submit your views.

            On Monday 5 March, the Committee will be hearing from the Scottish Government and party leaders in the Scottish Parliament as part of their inquiry into Devolution in the UK and Brexit. Your comments will help inform the inquiry as it progresses.”

            There follows literally hundreds, thousands probably now since I had a good laugh at it, of almost identically worded SNP BAD close Holyrood, My wife and I are paying taxes to keep this unnecessary tier of Jock Government open, clearly coordinated and orchestrated Feck The Jocks dross.
            What I would give to join you for just five minutes as you wander through the Elysian Fields in your alternative Universe.
            Mike Russell had to explain to an increasingly befuddled Gordon Hang On A Minute, Just To Be Clear, Are You Saying That, Brewer, the difference between the WM ‘consulting’ on the 111 areas of devolved government returning from Brussels and our democratically elected Scottish Government ‘agreeing’ common frameworks with rUK on overlapping areas of legislation and standards. Brewer seems to think that it is something to do with Dulux Paint colour charts. He is looking more tired and dandruff shouldered shoddy every time he has to defend the Brit Nats and conduct ridiculous interviews with the remarkably stupid and dangerously arrogant Camouflage Ruth, our self appointed next FM.
            The Brit Government will ‘consult’ all right, and then order us to do their Imperial bidding. We have had 300 years of it. No more. Charter 88? Rings a faint bell, like the Lutine bell at LLoyds, another hedge fund tax dodge for Old Establishment Money.
            I’m afraid that I’ll stick with the creaky New England closet with all its skeletons, rather than your UKEA modern flat pack New Tech IT whiz which provides quite silly forums, clearly a put up job, as that cobbled together by the ‘ Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee’.
            Is Jim Hacker chairing this Committee and Sir Humphrey setting the agenda?
            Still, I’m sure Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds shares your faith and trust in Dave Davis and Boris Johnson.
            I predict revolution, and tumbrils.
            Fatigus sum.

          2. SleepingDog says:

            @Jack, suppose an independent Scotland comes about through revolution or other means.

            Would you want it to have a written constitution?

            If not, why not?

            If so, how would you envisage its creation?

  11. Jack collatin says:

    Sleeping dog, yes.
    Not by committee designing a horse, SD.
    Enough already.

    1. SleepingDog says:

      @Jack, one of the most subversive and well-loved comedy shows of all time, The Simpsons, is written by committee.
      https://www.fastcompany.com/3016324/how-to-write-a-simpsons-episode-according-to-original-show-writer-al-jean

      So you believe that a Scottish revolution has a realistic chance of success, but forcing the UK state into a public process of creating a written (codified) constitution (as has happened in many states around the world) is an unrealistic dream.
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_national_constitutions

      Even if parts of the establishment want this. And the state is becoming non-functional due partly to its ancient, crufted, inefficient operating system drowning in what a software engineer might call technical debt.

      And once you achieved Scottish independence by revolutionary means, the next step to define the nation you are building is… what? You decline to say. I was hoping you had some coherent vision to offer.

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