WORK on drafting a written constitution for an independent Scotland which would enshrine the rights of all citizens must begin now, according to a leading academic.

Writing as part of the Common Weal think tank’s White Paper Project, Dr Elliot Bulmer said a body could be set up right away to develop a provisional constitution establishing the new state’s guiding philosophy.

Matters – such as whether the state should become a republic – could be left until after independence when further discussion could take place before a final constitution is agreed.

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Bulmer said a provisional constitution would exist to provide a stable and legal framework for Scotland to become a recognised independent nation. He suggested the process of drafting the document could be akin to the Constitutional Convention in 1990, ahead of the re-establishment of the Scottish Parliament, and could involve a cross-section of society.

His landmark paper Foundations for Freedom comes a week after tens of thousands of independence supporters marched through Glasgow and the debate over the timing of a second vote intensifies ahead of First Minister Nicola Sturgeon updating Holyrood on her referendum plans this autumn.

It contains a proposed timetable of the constitutional transition process and an example of a draft provisional constitution.

His report argued that a provisional constitution would have to be “sufficiently complete and robust to provide the necessary reassurance and public and international legitimacy”. However, it added there would need “an inclusive post-referendum constitutional process” – which would include the voices of those who had not supported independence.

Without this, he said, the principles of “civic, democratic nationalism” would be betrayed.

“There are few moments in the life of a nation as important and potentially transformative as the development of a new constitution,” Bulmer said. “And there are few moments as fraught with peril and uncertainty as the transition from one constitutional order to another.

“The paper argues the success of the independence project depends not upon the mere act of winning a referendum, but on the much more difficult and painstaking act of creating a viable, stable, inclusive and effective Scottish state.

“That will depend in turn upon the establishment of a widely acceptable democratic constitution, which will protect the rights and interests of all citizens,” added Bulmer.

“The time to start working on a constitution is now – ahead of any second independence referendum.

“That way, when we go into the referendum, it is not on the basis of a vague principle of independence, with details to be worked out on the fly (like Brexit), but on the basis of a detailed plan for an orderly and peaceful constitutional transition.”

Campaigns officer for Common Weal Max Wiszniewski said: “The creation of a final constitution could be developed by a Citizens’ Assembly made up by a gender-balanced and representative cross-section of Scottish society.

“The Scottish people should have the final say on issues like the monarchy and the principles that guide the nation, allowing Scotland to flourish as true 21st-century nation.”