THE Declaration for Independence published in The National this week is a remarkable document. It sets out a compelling prospectus for the new Scottish state.

Unlike the Scottish Government’s 2014 White Paper, which sought to allay fears of change by spelling out the transition to independence in detailed steps, the Declaration for Independence proclaims only fundamental principles and overarching purposes, not specific policy details.

READ MORE: Big names in Scottish culture sign 'Declaration for Independence'

It is designed to be seen and shared. It is short enough to be made into a poster to put up in your front window or posted as an image on Twitter. Originally signed by 50 leading cultural figures, my hope is that this declaration will gather widespread support. We should aim at getting a majority of the Scottish population to sign and endorse it.

The Declaration for Independence is specific enough to offer a coherent agenda, but broad enough to be unifying. It does not say anything particularly novel. It is merely a brief, frank and bold expression of what the late Professor Neil MacCormick once described as “the common stock of democratic thought in Scotland today”.

That is part of the declaration’s genius. It makes a principled, cross-party case for independence, with democracy and decency at its core. While it will appeal to left-wing nationalists, you do not have to be particularly left-wing, or even much of a nationalist, to support it. Moderate, centrist supporters of independence can get behind it too.

The declaration is fundamentally a constitutional document. It commits Scotland to the goal of creating and maintaining a flourishing constitutional democracy.

One could even see it as a meta-constitution, or proto-constitution. It builds upon, and completes, the tradition initiated by the Declaration of Arbroath and the Claim of Right. It is not a constitution in itself, but it is a statement of the foundations, principles and core values on which a constitution can be built. Here are the bare bones of the terms of reference for a Scottish Constitution Drafting Assembly.

According to the declaration, an independent Scotland is to be a nation-state, but not a nationalist state. It recognises that freedom, peace, order and good government are not achieved merely by the exchange of flags and anthems, but by a civic regeneration of principles, ethics and institutions. An independent Scotland is to be a state for all its citizens – a “commonweal” – ethically grounded and orientated to the common good. That includes those who are yet to be convinced of the merits of independence.

This column has consistently argued that good governance, a good constitution and good ethics are inseparable. The declaration grasps this truth and proclaims it.

The declaration pledges us to a new Scottish state in which the interests of the people – not nefarious lobbyists, slick politicians on the make or campaign donors – are paramount in all political deliberations, decisions and actions.

It commits us to the objective of building “an open and democratic society in which no individual is excluded, oppressed or discriminated against”.

In doing so, it reminds us – with a refreshing moral vigour that stands out so starkly against the deceit, cynicism and self-interest of Trump-Johnsonite politics – that the values of “care, kindness, neighbourliness and generosity of spirit” are the “foundation stones of a fair, free and open society”.

Constitutions are not written on tablets of stone, but one might even see this declaration in almost Biblical terms.

People fleeing the Egypt of an increasingly corrupt, dysfunctional, self-destructive oligarchy are just folks wandering in a desert.

They know what they are against, but not what they are for. People covenanted together around a constitutional declaration, in contrast, are on their way to the Promised Land. The declaration is a fiery pillar: a signpost to the destination, a source of encouragement and a point of unity around which people can rally.

This is what turns a mob into a movement and a crowd into a community. Lots of people marching with flags are a minor inconvenience to the traffic. Lots of people marching under a clear, coherent, well-articulated, ethically-grounded declaration are world-changers.

It will not all be milk and honey, but this new country that we are about to enter – once we cross the Jordan of an independence referendum – will not be like the old.

Pharonic powers will be disarmed. Their prorogations will cease and their tridents will be beaten into baby-boxes.

With a constitution founded on principles of freedom, justice and the common good, we can look forward to the promise of a land where we can all sit under the banner of our own vines and fig trees.

Then none shall make us afraid. We shall not be afraid of our human rights being eroded. We shall not be afraid of “democratic deficits”. We shall not be afraid of poverty or sickness or unemployment. We shall not be afraid of those who crousely craw to war. We shall not be afraid of decisions being made about us without us. That, friends, is hope over fear.