IT has been quite a couple of weeks for independence; starting guns have been fired, with the results for the next stage due in May, then it’s into the home stretch to empower Scotland with control over our own resources, natural wealth and a seat at the United Nations.

Let’s forget the silly propaganda about being too poor and too small, but when we are self-governing, opportunities for improving the wellbeing of Scots are not going to come on their own, they must be planned for – before building a house, plans must be drawn up, agreed, and then submitted for approval by the authorities. Before renovating an independent Scotland, an initial plan (a written constitution) requires to be drawn up and submitted for approval to the authorising power – the people of Scotland.

On July 4, 2018, the House of Commons officially endorsed the principles of the Claim of Right. “Resolved – That this House endorses the principles of the Claim of Right for Scotland, agreed by the Scottish Constitutional Convention in 1989 and by the Scottish Parliament in 2012, and therefore acknowledges the sovereign right of the Scottish people to determine the form of government best suited to their needs.” Given this was acknowledged under domestic law by the UK Parliament, could the FM please advise why she is asking “permission” for a referendum when the UK Parliament has already “resolved” that the people of Scotland have the right to choose their own form of government?

One day, hopefully in the not-too-distant future, a team of smart people having the authority of the Scottish Parliament will sit down with some equally smart people from Westminster. Their task will be to negotiate the terms of the future relationship between the two countries. Now that we are on the final run, let’s prepare by writing the rule book for our elected representatives to work to.

It is now time for Scots to discuss the kind of country they wish to live in. Until then we won’t know what we’re actually voting for at the next referendum. A written constitution is the equivalent of those house plans submitted for approval to the local planners. And that is what the public consultation, currently being run by the Scottish registered charity “Constitution for Scotland” is about. It provides YOU with the opportunity to participate at and share your ideas about the sort of country you want you and your children to live in.

Article 9 of the proposed model constitution states: “In the exercise of its jurisdiction, the judiciary is held independent of the government. The judicial powers of Scotland are exercised by the Court of Session (supreme civil court) and the High Court of Judiciary (supreme criminal court) and in subordinate courts. There is a law commission, a non-departmental public body to keep Scots law under review.

“The rehabilitation of prisoners will be a key feature of the criminal justice system. The main focus should be on preventing re-offending by understanding and removing the causes of the criminal behaviour. A system for granting pardons and for review of sentences will be the function of an independent pardons board.”

Article 10 proposes a twin-step process for amending the constitution. Its content is what is termed higher law and cannot be changed by an ordinary Act of Parliament. To amend the constitution will require widespread debate leading to an agreed form of the proposed amendment that must first be approved by parliament. The proposed amendment will then be the subject of a referendum to enable the people to agree or reject the proposal.

A current issue being discussed is about the impartiality of the Lord Advocate and the Solicitor General, who sit as members of the Scottish Government and are appointed by the First Minister. Should they be appointed by the Government or from outside it? Should we revert to the traditional Scottish verdicts of proven and not proven?

In the next instalment in the series, we will look at Article 11, government auditing and accountability, and Freedom of Information; and at Article 12: two-tier autonomous regional and local community government and Citizen referendums. To interested groups, the Constitution for Scotland team offer a “guest speaker” introduction, demonstration and Q&A session within your own Zoom meeting. Contact

Robert Ingram is chair of Constitution for Scotland