AN independent Scotland will have a unique opportunity to strengthen the drive towards greater equality across civic society by bringing decision-making closer to the electorate and more accountable to them.

Presently there are no barriers to those who wish to put themselves forward for election other than age and certain public professions. Crucially there are also no requirements made for an individual to stand for an elected position. Qualifications and experience are also not a prerequisite, unlike the application process for employment. This crucial difference ensures that a fundamental equality is built into the system; anyone from the general population can be an elected representative; and that is how it should be.

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However, Western democracies are not truly representative of the wider population. Selection processes and the reward system for successful candidates ensures that, no matter what, a privileged political class is always created after elections.This highly-paid career structure with its expenses regime and other benefits must cease.

For many, if not all, of these new recruits to the political system, protection of their new privileged positions becomes a main consideration.

This privilege and personal gain should be removed from the democratic process. They are not compatible with a process that should rely on disinterested legislators making judgements and decisions devoid of their own personal interests.

Our elected members should have a decent stipend for the time they are in office. An annual salary of £35,000 – which is £10,000 above the current median salary – should apply. This £10,000 uplift is in recognition of the fixed-term nature of the position which should not exceed two terms.

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The conditions of service and disciplinary procedures should be the same as those that apply to the civil service and rigorously applied. No outside business interests or advisory positions should be allowed.

Limiting service in parliament to two terms would increase the opportunity for more citizens to have the privilege of serving in parliament. It would bring a freshness to policy making and management and ensure that staleness and entrenchment does not take hold.

The passionate and the wisest should be encouraged to lead the community of Scotland and the careerists and self-servers discouraged. It would be a foreseeable tragedy for the independence movement to regain our sovereignty only to hand it over to a new political establishment. The interests of fairness, equality and sound management would be well served by this approach. Our new parliament would have more of a citizens’ assembly feel to it, albeit one with the full levers of power of an independent state.

The sovereignty of an independent Scotland must be based on the authentic authority of the Scottish people and not that of a new highly paid elite.

Don Ferguson

I READ that China has developed a high-speed magnetic levitation (maglev) train capable of speeds up to 600mph. Engineer George Bennie, born in Glasgow in 1930, demonstrated his experimental “railplane” on a 426ft long test track at Milngavie, 16ft above Burnbrae station. The idea was to create a high speed link between Glasgow and Edinburgh with a journey time of 20 mins at speeds up to 150mph.The test track was visible in Milngavie until 1956, when it was demolished and sold for scrap.

Why has this frictionless transport system never been fully developed since then? The starting point was already there.

Gordon Walker