AS we move forward on the next stage of our journey towards self-governance, we need to appreciate that accountability, both for the government and for individuals, plays a vital role in the development of a fairer, wealthier, and happier Scotland.

Accountability means being required to answer for one’s actions in accordance with an agreed common set of rules. Standards such as the Nolan Principles of selflessness, integrity, objectivity, accountability, openness, honesty and leadership give a pretty good start for everyone in public life.

This means everyone should be willing to answer for their actions openly and publicly and, if necessary, be judged for their actions. Accountability should apply to all of us, yet some are held less accountable than others.

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Most people work and are held accountable under contracts with their employers. But accountability also applies to the politicians who are elected to govern us, as well as applying to both public and private land or property-owning individuals or companies.

In countries neighbouring the UK, the core tool establishing accountability and democratic governance is a written constitution.

In Scotland, we are told that the people are the supreme sovereign authority and that our politicians are accountable to those who elect them. In practice, the authority of the people can only be exercised at election time when we are given a choice of representatives based on party manifestos available for guidance. The remainder of the time, politicians answer primarily to their party leaders, apart from the few elected as independents. Certainly, if a matter of controversy arises in a constituency a politician will react but such accountability is not a matter of routine.

More than 50% of the land in Scotland is owned by just 432 individuals and companies, many of whom are not resident in Scotland, with many being registered in tax havens to avoid paying taxes. There is also a significant acreage not on the digital land register.

In developing our future, we could learn from several well-trodden paths demonstrated by some of our neighbours across the North Sea who have achieved more effective democratic accountability than in the system we live under.

A sampling of key issues to provide wider accountability could include a citizens’ assembly to draft a codified written constitution – an interactive, internet-based, constitutional debate that enables everyone to share their thoughts on what should be contained in the constitution (see Constitution for Scotland ) – completion of the land register; replacing the current 32 unitary authorities with a system based on smaller councils; providing these reformed local councils with alternative revenue raising powers (see article “New taxation can deliver land reform

by Graeme McCormick in The National on June 4); generating a 25-year national development plan; establishing a national data collection and analysis agency; and initiating preparations for a central bank and associated financial agencies.

An example of accountability that we could implement is already available at the interactive debating forum Constitution for Scotland. In Article 6 of the model constitution provided at you can Hae Yer Say on a process for holding elected representatives accountable to their constituents.

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The function of Parliament would be the creation of legislation to support national policies, principles and standards, with reformed local government having the autonomous powers to implement the required wellbeing outcomes tailored as necessary to meet local area requirements.

Reformed local government would give the opportunity for more independent councillors who are aware of relevant local issues, and not focused on the general policies of political parties.

Re-instating a modernised form of the previous burgh and district councils, with support and advice from local citizens’ assemblies, would revitalise local democracy, bring meaningful accountability closer to the people, and thus encourage the active participation of local people as they have currently ably demonstrated in response to the Covid pandemic. is a registered Scottish Charity with the aim of advancing participative democracy within the community of Scotland. You can join more than 16,000 visitors, read more than 1000 comments, and participate in preparing a Scottish Constitution. 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 make arrangements