Last month Fiona and I spent a fair bit of time swotting up on Constitutions, what does and doesn’t get written into a Constitution, and what a Scottish constitution might look like. I hope no-one reading this is asking why we were doing all this swotting because it’s clear that Scotland will need its own Constitution after independence. There are only three countries which don’t have one : Israel, New Zealand and UK. The other 190 countries went to the bother of writing down what kind of country, society and values they want for themselves and what kind of country, society and values they don’t want for themselves.
Mike Russell, former Cabinet Secretary for Constitutional Affairs, has set up a consultative group drawn from various Yes Groups. Dr Elliot Bulmer an expert on helping countries frame their Constitutions is also in the consultation. Elliot has written a draft Interim Constitution as the basis for discussion. When the consultative group have agreed on a draft, Mike’s aim is to take it to SNP. Should the next referendum succeed, it will be for ScotGov to decide whether or not to take the provisional draft forward as a possible piece of legislation
Why do we need an Interim Constitution?
That’s a relatively easy question to answer. We need one because
- we need safeguards in place for our population and our institutions immediately after Independence Day. But….
- it will take time, several years, to set up the means of thinking through and writing our eventual full Constitution. That could be done through a Citizens’ Assembly on the Constitution. And it will need ratified in a future referendum where all Scots are asked if they accept whoever form of Constitution is proposed.
- in the meantime a Provisional Constitution will provide the safeguards we need initially and can be in force until the full Constitution is agreed.
- But only Yes Groups are involved? that’s not fair is it. No it’s not. But we know that those who don’t want independence won’t engage with this provisional discussion at the moment. However since nothing will happen unless we vote Yes. And they will be able to engage with it, through their MSPs, when it’s laid before Holyrood.