AS we move towards being a sovereign independent country again, the people of Scotland need to decide whether we want a continuation of the current system of centralised government or a move to a form of shared democratic government.

Our former district and burgh councils provided meaningful local decision-making. At present, under the authoritarian system in the UK, power is concentrated in Westminster for reserved issues, and in Holyrood for devolved issues. A limited range of powers are devolved to the current 32 local authorities, inadequately allowing them to provide the public services we expect.

It is to be hoped that Boris Johnson and his friends continue in office as no one could make a better case for independence – making up the rules as they go along with no written constitution to hold them accountable.

Under the current system we elect representatives (many with limited grassroots experience) for up to five years. They then make all the decisions with little opportunity thereafter for the citizens to have a say. It is a form of representative or popular governance sometimes called “indirect democracy”.

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Theoretically, representative governance is based on consent of the people. A government’s source of authority is the people and government established by the free choice of the people is expected to serve the people, who have sovereign authority.

The reality today is that the system mainly serves the will of the political parties with little accountability to, and consideration for, the will and needs of all citizens. The multi-member ward arrangement for Scotland’s local authorities compounds this as it has severed the accountability link between councillors and their electorate.

The primary means of ensuring politicians act with integrity and perform in the best interests of their constituents is to have a codified constitution, written with the participation of and consent of the citizens, setting out the limits of political power, plus providing enforceable standards of accountability as well as clearly establishing the rights of the people.

Such a constitution should be written by a form of Citizens’ Constitutional Convention, with due regard for the results of public consultation, and could be achieved prior to Scotland’s independence Day, which is at least three years away.

Constitutions are used by many organisations, such as community councils, political parties, sports clubs, and others, as well as countries, to explain their objectives, set the rules by which they operate, and define the limits of the powers and authorities of the elected officials. A constitution also safeguards the separation of the principal institutions of state – executive, legislature, and judiciary. Such a division is required to safeguard citizens’ liberties and guard against undue influence and corruption.

The constitution of a state does not belong to parliament, to political parties or to those who draft it – it belongs to the citizens of the state and constitutes the conditions under which citizens like you agree to be governed.

Every citizen has an entitlement to participate in and vote upon its content. How many citizens exercise this right is not the issue; it is that every citizen is provided with a genuine opportunity to do so.

Are you aware that Scotland has the lowest level of local decision-making powers of any other country in Europe or Scandinavia (including England)?

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The most recent reform of local government in Scotland was passed by a Conservative government under “The (Scotland) Act 1994” of the UK Parliament, which abolished the regions and districts and replaced them with the current single-tier authorities, effectively eliminating local community decision-making.

In the more democratic Scandinavian and European countries the governance is shared autonomously at national, regional, city, town, district, and community levels. This style of governance encourages more citizen participation at multiple levels.

Why not join the discussion on the Constitution for Scotland website in Article 12 about the proposals to bring back a system of local governance that returns effective decision-making powers to regions, cities, towns or districts, and communities?

These are matters that will affect the outcome of the next referendum yet currently there is a political vacuum as no-one seems to be giving any thought to the crucial interim period between a Yes vote and the election of Scotland’s first independent Parliament. We will continue to develop debate on the various dilemmas arising from this political vacuum in future articles.

- is a registered Scottish Charity with the aim of advancing participative democracy within the community of Scotland. You can join more than 13,000 visitors, read more than 1000 comments, and participate in preparing a constitution for Scotland. Many people post comments and amendments and vote on this interactive website because democracy is an evolving process and open to everyone. So why not join in and have your say in how you think an independent Scotland should be governed?

- 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 to arrange