A new book on how to set up an independent Scotland is about to be published. Here, we run our first extract of four from the new Common Weal project:

The Timeline, Part One

BEFORE looking at all the individual tasks which will be involved in setting up a new country, let’s take a quick overview of what it might all look like when put together. We can’t wait until after we’ve had an independence referendum to begin building a new country so let’s start the timeline about 18 months before a vote is held.

With about 18 months to go we need to start thinking about recruitment. An awful lot of what is involved in setting up a new country involves identifying and recruiting the best people to lead the various necessary tasks. These are senior people and it will take time to find them and persuade them to take up the role. We should allow a full year and a half to put a core team together if we want them to be ready to start work immediately after a vote for independence.

READ MORE: Blueprint for how to set up an independent Scotland is published

Then, with not more than a year to go we should produce an interim constitution, one to reassure people that their basic constitutional rights will be fully protected. A constitutional convention should be called, primarily drawing on the knowledge of experts in writing constitutions but also including representatives from Scottish society more widely.

With not more than about six months to go a final detailed White Paper should be produced to set out everything people will need to know about what the new Scottish state will look like. This must contain all the detail covered in this book. And then with not more than three months to go there should be in place a full implementation plan – a strategy for how all the work outlined in the White Paper will be delivered effectively and efficiently over the three-year transition period.

That takes us to the independence referendum itself. And of course, nothing is more important in creating a new country than that it is done with the support of a majority of the Scottish population. An independence referendum must be won. Then the hard work can begin.

READ MORE: Robin McAlpine on how Scotland's transition to independence will be a success

The first thing we should do after that is partly symbolic but is also an important technical requirement – we should immediately seek “legal personality” from Westminster. This would not mean being recognised as an independent country but would grant us the ability to negotiate with other international bodies, enter into contracts, borrow money and so on.

While this is happening all the transition arrangements must be put in place. The Holyrood government will continue to run all existing devolved policy areas as they currently do and Westminster would continue to run all devolved policy areas. However, there should be a co-ordination committee set up to make sure that what Westminster does not prejudice what Scotland might be aiming to do during the transition period.

And then we get to one of the biggest tasks. Scotland will need a new body to manage and carry out the very large volume of work needed to set up a new nation. So we should create a National Commission. This would be a body that would exist for only three years and function like a kind of time-limited, democratically governed civil service. It would recruit and employ people to do all aspects of the set-up work.

REVIEW: Common Weal's indy guide is a smart book imbued with quiet optimism

The National Commission would be open and transparent with all political parties and other civil organisations being represented on its governing body. It would not make or impose decisions which have not been openly debated and agreed. This will give the people of Scotland the confidence to believe that this new start is one that belongs to everyone and not just a selected few.

As soon as it exists the National Commission must put in place strong project and financial management rules. And it must be able to issue government-backed bonds to pay for all the development work. This is how the setting-up of a new Scotland will be financed – the National Commission shall borrow to pay to do all the work and then at the end of the set-up period the debt created by the National Commission will be added to the national debt for the new Scotland.

It is now time to begin the actual work. The first thing to do is to set up a digital version of the new Scottish currency. This is what banks need to begin preparing new kinds of accounts and to help all other preparations for currency introduction. At this point the new currency doesn’t “exist” (you can’t own it or spend it) – it is a first technical step that is needed.

The next urgent thing to prepare is the negotiating team and negotiating strategy for agreeing the terms of separation with the rest of the UK. Ideally a chunk of this work will have been done well in advance, but it must now be finalised and committed to. There would be perhaps six months in which to do this.

Another task that should be prioritised in the first quarter of the first transition year is early steps needed to update the nation’s IT systems. It is essential that this is done well and that it is all in place so that the transition is seamless, so it must be begun early.

By the time we are into the second quarter of the first transition year we should be starting the process of having a full, inclusive national conversation about what should be in the final constitution. This will mean a major programme of going out to communities all over Scotland and having deep engagement with citizens over what they feel should be the underpinning principles of the new Scottish constitution. This must be a lengthy process to give people time to engage.

At this stage we should also be starting the task of setting up a Scottish Defence Force. Recruitment and procurement will take time so should begin early. The same is true for some of the more complex government systems that need to be set up such as the tax and social security systems.

By the time we reach the halfway point of the first transition year we should expect to be opening negotiations with the rest of the UK over the terms of separation, so exhaustive preparations must be in place by this point. It is the stage at which we can also begin initial contact with international institutions such as the United Nations, the World Trade Organisation or the European Union to take the first steps towards negotiating future relationships.

The third quarter of the first year (once the digital currency is set up) is when the National Commission should begin working with the banks to begin the process of setting up new bank accounts in the Scottish currency. This is also the time to start making the arrangements for establishing a central bank.

There are a number of new government departments which need to be set up but the one that should now be treated as a priority is a Foreign Office.

Not only will we need this in place to take over international negotiations but we will also have to start talking to foreign governments and identifying properties for a Scottish consular network.

Getting into the final quarter of the first transition year, it is time to build a new digital payment system for the new currency to replace the BACS system (which can only pay in sterling).

The last thing that needs to be done in the first year is to get wider political agreement on how to set up a number of the systems where duplication of the status quo isn’t possible or isn’t sensible.

An all-party and civic convention should be held to negotiate how to create the interim policies in areas such as tax and social security which are fit for purpose and also a fair starting point for any incoming government.

TOMORROW, PART TWO: The Second Year of Transition