FOR some time now I have travelled round the country speaking to a number of independence-minded groups about constitutions.

Last week, for instance, I talked to Pensioners for Independence in Glasgow, and later addressed the inaugural meeting of the Stirling Conversations. And I’d like to share with you some of my reflections about these discussions.

The first thing that needs to be said is that everyone is hugely welcoming.

Indeed, if there is one striking feature of these gatherings it is this: the people who attend are very nice.

Most folks are also a little apprehensive and come to these meetings perhaps enticed by the advertising slogan, shared by this column, promising “everything you want to know about constitutions but were afraid to ask”.

So, I begin by reassuring them that whatever little they think they may know about constitutions, it is matched by that of those who govern us.

The UK is a state where almost no one in authority has much of a clue about its constitution, and cares even less. Until now.

I also promise that by the end of the meeting, they will know more than the Prime Minister about the UK constitution and constitutions in general. Of course, this is not saying a lot.

As people warm to the subject, the questions soon flow. These range from what legal authority attaches to the Claim of Right, to whether Westminster could abolish the Scottish Parliament. And most things in between.

While a recumbent Jacob Rees-Mogg in the House of Commons is perhaps not the first lying Tory in that institution, his disdain for long-established traditions is evident.

As is that of his fellow cabinet members. This is hugely and disproportionately important in a country that places much stock in its politicians adhering to convention.

What we are seeing is the emergence of two nationalisms on this island. One is unabashed about its roots in empire while opposing almost all forms of immigration as it panders to Brexit Party voters.

In so many ways the Conservative party has become Nukip. It has become the full-throated voice of English nationalism, according to some former Tory MPs.

The Westminster Government regards the unwritten British constitution as its plaything, to be respected or discarded on a whim. It is worth reminding ourselves of Elliot Bulmer’s statement on the reality of living in the UK.

He explains: “Brexit is happening in a country with winner-takes-all elections and no written constitution, where all our democratic rights depend solely on the goodwill, self-restraint, moderation and moral responsibility of the party in government. Terrifying.”

When I talk to groups and show them this statement, there is an audible gasp in the room. This is not, I suspect, because it has not occurred to most people, but rather because it is so very shocking to see it expressed in such stark terms.

Nonetheless, it is our reality. Following Brexit, there is little to stop any Westminster government with a working majority from jettisoning present human rights legislation – and replacing it with whatever takes its fancy.

The other nationalism in Scotland aspires to create a new state based on liberal democratic values. It espouses a social contract between the state and the citizen that protects the latter’s human rights.

As I said earlier, its advocates, or at least the folks I meet, are “very nice”. And in the end, this may be the most important factor of all. It seems to me that victory will go to those best informed and, dare I say it, most pleasant. While keyboard warriors are often robust in their dealings with each other, friends and enemies alike, I am not convinced lots of minds are swayed.

It is more likely that ordinary folks in day-to-day chats with friends and neighbours bring about a more permanent change of mind. As Tip O’Neill, a former Speaker of the House of Representatives, famously said, “All politics is local”.

People also ask me if Scotland had a written constitution now, how could it be used? One answer is that it could be invaluable in persuading so-called “soft Nos” on doorsteps.

What could be more convincing to the uncommitted or the waverers than a clear document that guarantees their rights in an independent Scotland, regardless of what party is in power?

Then ask them to look at Westminster, compare the thuggish behaviour there, and say to them: ‘‘It is a simple choice of how you see the future for yourself, your family and your country.”

This column welcomes your questions, and if you would like a presentation on the Constitution to your group, do let me know on