LET’S heed the warning signs. The Westminster Parliament provided devolution under pressure from the Council of Europe but that external pressure no longer exists following Brexit (see Scotland UN-Committee – www.electricscotland.com).

With its current majority, the UK Government can change UK law to suit itself.

The Scottish Government has done excellent work handling the pandemic and, utilising limited available funding, mitigating some of the adverse social policies being applied by Westminster. However, a significant proportion of the revenues raised in Scotland are still being retained by the UK Treasury to meet Westminster spending priorities.

The canny approach is appreciated but now, with 72 pro-independence MSPs, when do we see the plan for the future self-governing Scotland? Waiting until after the Covid 19 crisis abates (if ever) is not an acceptable answer.

Surely a Cabinet Secretary should be appointed to co-ordinate a policy group – essentially, a People’s Assembly to prepare a practical, achievable plan providing an objective outline of the Scotland that we want to live in.

Currently, groups such as Business for Scotland, Common Weal, Scottish Currency Group, Constitution for Scotland and others, are providing realistic processes, but the public policy route is yet awaited.

Correct me if I have got it wrong, but was it not the original intent that the Holyrood Parliament would make Scottish politics more accountable to Scottish voters? Yet there is still an unacceptable level of centralised power and top-down management, when we could all benefit from more autonomous local decision-making.

Participative democracy is the right for people to decide how the place where they live is run. This right has built our communities, our society and our sense of justice. But too few people now believe this right is being honoured, too few believe they have any part in decision-making and too many believe they are powerless and voiceless.

We need a new democracy where decisions are made where they are required. Our towns and communities must decide for themselves just as our nation must decide for itself. At all levels the power to govern must be matched by the funds and assets required to achieve.

The answer to many of our current problems is a written constitution compiled following wide public consultation. A prescription for an interactive, participative, form of governance based on the principle of subsidiarity and shared by the people.

Currently there is a model constitution for Scotland available to you as a unique interactive online consultation. Here you can comment, propose amendments and securely vote your priorities. Real participative democracy is now on offer on your PC or mobile device at www.ConstitutionForScotland.scot – make use of it!

Article 12 of the model constitution proposes multiple level local government, namely regional and local burgh councils, with defined autonomous powers. Today, Scotland has the lowest level of local decision-making powers and less elected representatives, than any other country in Europe or Scandinavia, including England.

Scotland needs to move to a three-tier system of governance, operating on the principle of subsidiarity – namely, Parliament plus regional and burgh councils, together with constituency-based people’s assemblies to advise MPs and councillors on local priorities, with all elected representatives being elected using the single transferable vote system to provide proportional representation.

Don’t be put off by the term burgh councils or be dismayed that we haven’t included community councils in the model constitution. What we envisage here is a local tier of democracy with considerably greater powers than the current community councils that will have a significant budget to be able to carry out specific local services and may be closer to the former district or burgh councils. “Burgh” might not suit the more rural parts, so area councils might become the eventual name. This is where you play your part in offering your opinion to shape our new country.

Article 12 also proposes peoples’s referendums. But remember, this is the people’s referendum and “popular” democracy needs everyone’s input – even if only to vote for your preference. You don’t need to look far to see what you get when you leave it to someone else …

In the next instalment in the series, we will look at Article 13: Independent Commissions and Electoral Accountability.

To interested groups, the Constitution for Scotland team offers a “guest speaker” introduction, demonstration and Q&A session within your own Zoom meeting. Please contact info@constitutionforscotland.scot to arrange.

Robert Ingram is chair of the Constitution for Scotland