Thursday, 26 January 2012

A Debate On Scotland's Constitution

A guest post by John Souter.

Having first read then listened to the presentation of the Hugo Young lecture I think its fair to say it's one of the few speeches that come over better through the personality and commitment of the speaker than it does as two dimensional script.

One major point in its favour was, while the knee jerk comments from proponents for protecting their positions within the status quo were referred to, they were given the value and rejection they deserve as the equivalent to water off a duck's back.

Of late, and probably for the foreseeable future, we are going to be snowed under by these vacuous fictions claiming to be and paraded as facts. Unfortunately one of the downsides of this is the knee jerk reaction to make equally fatuous retorts. Both are wearisome to an extent they can create parallel negative reactions. The Hugo Young speech shows how we should react by sticking to purpose and conviction rather than the mince of rhetorical hyperbole.

That said and, while it's understandable that for the present the process of the referendum should claim priority, there are still major issues such as EU membership etc., being the democratic choice for an independent Scotland and the form of Constitution adopted by Scotland to maintain, protect and empower the sovereignty of its people. In fact so interlaced are the two issues the decision on the EU cannot be legitimately made until the constitutional model is finalised.

I've struggle with this for sometime and as a consequence of being as intellectually lazy and politically naive as the next man, it slowly dawned on me that I was also constitutionally illiterate. That I knew what I didn't want, which was the model of democracy as practised by Westminster should not be the model adopted by Scotland.

But what form should the new constitution take? And, given the wedges driven into the American Declaration of Independence by its Supreme Court, political hegemonies and corporate hijackers, was any constitution binding enough to be impregnable by short term interests in the power game?

The last question is still open, but - and here I have to declare my intent, though I have neither direct nor indirect interest in the books success - while the wearisome Machiavellian machinations of Earls and political mandarins have been rolling on, I've been reading Elliot Bulmer's "A Model Constitution For Scotland."*

While it doesn't claim to be the definitive version, it does serve as a foundation for debate and analysis on the objectives, construct and purpose a constitution should serve. In truth I found it empowering and a clear indication of just how positively comprehensive and radically democratic an independent Scotland could be.

I look forward to the debate. And in case it’s considered I'm completely uncritical of the book, it doesn't quite cover the Lobbying aspects nor the wedges being allowed to drive cracks in the American version. But that was drawn up two hundred years ago and times do change; perhaps we should incorporate in Scotland's a re-affirmation by referendum every two or three parliamentary terms?

* Elliot Bulmer 'A Model Constitution for Scotland' - ISBN is 1-908373-13-X Published by Luath Press. £10.99 inc pp.


JRB said...

I am beginning to feel like a wee Scottish salmon in a wee Scottish river.

The banks of my wee river are becoming overcrowded by politicians, pundits, analysts and commentators all angling to get a rise from any or all of the wee Scottish salmon.

They are all casting their assorted flies; the EU fly; the monetary system fly; the national debt fly; the defence fly, and now we have a constitution fly.
Each fly designed to hook and ensnare the poor we Scottish salmon, preventing it from fulfilling its pressing and primary purpose.
All that I and the other wee Scottish salmon presently want to do is to swim to the head of the river, and there cast our vote on our future.

Only then, might we be tempted by one of these artificial hand tied gaudy representations of a meaty fly.

subrosa said...

Auch JRB, this week's just the first chapter of a good political thriller. Lots of intrigue, prophesying and hyperbole.

It will settle down shortly. The quality of debate is too poor to keep it of general interest. Did you read Kenneith Roy's leader in the most recent Scottish Review?

Anonymous said...

There are so many details to be considered and discussed. I'm with JRB on this. The main aim is to win the Independence vote although this may well need some clarification of the major points of interest for the voter.

Many of the issues which are coming to the fore have been dealt with by many other countries and no doubt there are lessons for us to learn from them.

The main aim remains. Win independence.

subrosa said...

The problem is the undecided TT and they're the ones who want these questions answered before the referendum. They're not going to take a leap into the dark.

JimS said...

Mostly this blog talks sense but independence without considering the consequences is just plain stupid!

So a little fish wants to swim in the big pool all because of some historical (hysterical?) gripe against Westminster and you've got to follow?

Politicians of greater stature have risen from the same pool to lead the UK surely a far better aim?

As for disquiet with Westminster, well that can be heard all over the Kingdom; we all want "change" but like Obama can never deliver because we don't all want the same change.

While there is a certain patriotic appeal for "independence" or "self-determination" or cutting off your nose to spite yourself, as it could also be called, involvement with the EU is disingenuous. Part of the "Westminster" problem is the EU. The idea that Scotland will, as the 28th member, be able to "influence" the EU is beyond crazy. The EU is aiming to become a super-state; there are no if's and's or but's about it. Oh, and as a new member, Scotland will get the Euro, it's the rule! Welcome to Independence! All so that a little fish can get his EU pension!

subrosa said...

Jim, everyone has to be entitled to their opinion. Just because I am sceptical of the EU and some other SNP policies shouldn't deter those who think current SNP policies are fine.

Indeed, part of independence involves patriotism but for the current determination for the EU is not what Scotland needs to go forward.

Maybe I ought to do a post about my opinion of the EU - if it wouldn't be too boring. :)

Crinkly & Ragged Arsed Philosophers said...

JRB -now why should the constitutional fly trap you. Might it not feed and sustain you in your journey up the 'wee' constitutional river. Or would you prefer to flounder about once you get there?

TT - the sin is not in the aim it's in failing to ensure you have the power to hit the mark.

Jim S - I'm 100% committed to independence, at best dubious of the EU on both it's democratic ethos and its institutional functions and I see nothing hysterical in Scotland wanting to cast off the yolk of Westminster hubris - so we will have to agree to disagree on that one.

To sum up; I recommended a book as a basis (nothing more than a template)for debate on the assumption that it would be constructive and none of the 'voices' that contributed would be too 'wee' to be ignored.

Perhaps I should just have a few bumper stickers run off saying - A Constitution is for a Nation's Life; not just for the day of Xmas.

footdee said...

Jim s ---we are already in the EU so all your dire prdictions will fall on us if we stay in the union ----------------your wrong about having to join the euro ---but in the future with the euro only in use by strong economies it may be in our interests to join .
It will certainly be in the interests of the euro for us to join as the scottish oil reserves will underpin the euro

footdee said...

Jim s from yesterdays Press @ journal,

A Tory MP has urged the UK Government not to forget the “enormous” economic importance of North Sea oil and gas.

Nicholas Soames, a grandson of wartime prime minister Winston Churchill, will put the industry back on the political agenda today after securing a debate on offshore taxation at Westminster.

He believes it is as crucial to the economy as the City of London – describing it as “a goose that lays a golden egg”.

footdee said...

Jim s --by the way if you think the UK is a big pool ,you need to bring your economics and history up to date

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