THERE are many sympathetic economists, political theorists, legal experts, constitutionalists and social policy practitioners who can contribute very substantially to the development of a stronger plan for independence. The more we involve people, the better chance we have of finding the best solutions to the complex issues.

Because of the pace of development required of the White Paper last time round, there were cases where solutions were adopted because they were the easiest to put together rather than because they were the best. A wider process will help to improve the case which is built.

I’d therefore suggest that an inclusive steering group should oversee the development of this work with people included both to represent a range of views across the independence movement and to represent areas of specific expertise. The whole process should be overseen by a structure which enables all of the campaign to have a say. Steps are already being taken to see if the Scottish Independence Convention can be repurposed to this end. There is a corollary of this openness and inclusivity – we need to be realistic.

As someone on the Scottish left, I am very aware that we can sometimes see an open and inclusive process and conclude that it is time for us to dust off that giant list of “demands” that we keep in our heads. That will do no good. I personally have always accepted that at some point in the future, Scotland could conceivably see a substantial shift to the right (though there is very little sign of it just now and it would take decades).

The idea of producing a founding document is not to try to “stitch up” the future by shoving in every part of our own wish lists we can. The purpose is to create a workable foundation for a future nation.

This document should not be a political document but a practical one. It is not meant to be a recipe for any specific future, it is meant to be the plans for a kitchen in which all our possible futures can be cooked up.

For this reason, we should try to stick to the details of what needs to be put in place and avoid spending time explaining what can be done with them. Once we have the core plans in place, every single one of us can describe how to use that national infrastructure to pursue the future we want to see.

However, we should also be clear that there really is no technocratic solution to creating a new nation, no “right answer” to what should be done. While a constitution or a civil service or a regulatory system should be fit for multiple possible futures, it is impossible to create them with no reference to the values and beliefs of the era in which they are created. As an example, whether or not we have a welfare state is in fact a political and ideological question. If we do choose to have a generous state pension, that is a political and value-driven decision. But if we don’t immediately put in place a means of delivering a state pension, there won’t be one – which in itself is a different kind of political decision.

So an early stage in the process should be to set out those values and basic expectations. It should not be difficult. The idea of Scotland as a democratic and liberal nation state with individual freedoms protected within a cradle-to-grave welfare state is pretty universally shared – and almost completely universally shared among independence supporters.

It easily guides us to create a constitution based on international practice on transparency and human rights, an impartial civil service able to serve whatever government is elected, the technical foundations to provide a substantial welfare state and so on.

All we have to do is be honest and clear about where we need to integrate specific values into the process and where we need to keep our political opinions out.

Let us assume that we can manage these things and create a process, I would then suggest there is something specific that we should be setting out as a goal.

The final report, the final plan, should be as close to a “how to” guide as possible. There is, of course, scope for integrating a little explanation of why one option was selected over another or why a particular approach was taken.

But, on the whole, it should not look like a discussion document or give the impression of being the minutes of a lengthy debate. It should be a solid, actionable plan. If everyone involved in its preparation was wiped out in some kind of awful epidemic, others ought to be able to pick it up and implement it from what is on the page.

This is crucial. The idea of creating confidence is based not on how well we can “tell” but how specifically we can “show” – there’s nothing like an instruction manual for making you believe that something actually works, actually does what it says it does. It is so much more powerful if what people see is a series of statements which say “Scotland will...” followed by the actions and the numbers concerned. It makes that future concrete, believable. Which is what the next cohort of future supporters of independence want.

THE last point to make here is that there is inevitably going to be compromises of scope as well as negotiations between partners. If I was allowed my way I’d have liked to see a monetary economist appointed in the months after the referendum defeat, tasked immediately to begin a substantial process of developing a much better position on currency.

Given four or five years, I believe we could have gone quite far down the path of having a currency (or at least a currency position) not only designed but prepared for implementation.

It’s two years later and we don’t have that time. We therefore need to concentrate on what is essential and what can be achieved in the timescale. For example, if we seek to publish this document by the beginning of 2019, there is unlikely to have been the time to produce a constitution through a process of participatory deliberation among the public. That is a shame – it could have been very powerful if that had been possible. So we need to work from where we are and be realistic.

The list of what might be included in this project is potentially quite extensive and different people will have different ideas. I am therefore not seeking to be in anyway conclusive or comprehensive in the following list. But I am selecting what I think are the biggest and most crucial issues to outline how we might improve our case. In each case I will offer opinions on what solutions might be possible. These are personal opinions. You might well disagree with all of them and yet still agree that a project of this nature is of value.

But there is one final approach that I would like to recommend – simplicity. The regulatory and managerial structures of the British state were concocted over years of addition, amendment and general tinkering.

Sometimes they are horrendously complicated and difficult to understand because they have been deliberately designed to be opaque and therefore ripe for abuse (the tax code and its web of exemptions was largely written by accountancy firms seeking to ensure there are plenty loopholes for their clients). But a lot of the time it is just the accumulation of years of attempting to drag out-of-date procedures into the modern world, each phase adding one more layer of confusion.

The simpler and more transparent public life is, the better. It is better for citizens who can understand how their society works.

Who really understands how and why tax avoidance is one of Britain’s biggest industries?

It is better for the economy, where predictability of regulatory behaviour is genuinely helpful (except for the corporations which seek to fiddle and cheat through regulatory confusion). It is better for the public sector, which does not require an army of lawyers to help, and it is more efficient.

So let’s aim to build in simplicity and transparency wherever we can. And a final plea, let’s try to do it in a language which an ordinary person can understand. There just is no need to start a new nation in the bizarre and impenetrable legalistic language which plagues the one we’re trying to leave. Two days and I can understand HTML. Twenty years and I can still barely understand chunks of the public legislation which defines our society.

Determination: How Scotland can become independent by 2021 is available to pre-order at