THE granting of a Section 30 order authorising the 2014 Scottish independence referendum was a fair and reasonable political decision by Westminster and recognised the voluntary nature of the Union.

Last week, the Supreme Court simply ruled on the legal meaning of the words which comprise an Act of Parliament and no political opinion did, or should have, coloured their decision.

The International Court of Justice is less rigid in that it must interpret Articles of the United Nations and cases of conflict and international treaties between members of the UN. The first problem is that the UK is a member of the UN whereas Scotland is not.

The UK could request an advisory ruling on the Act of Union of 1707 as to whether Scotland remained a nation with clear identity and borders and as such retained the right of self-determination and therefore the right to initiate a referendum without a Section 30.

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The Scottish Government does not have this right and even if the General Assembly requested an advisory opinion on this it would be open to the UK Government to veto the initiative.

All this re-inforces the view that this is a matter of politics rather than law and will be determined by political rather than legal means. That in turn means that if a simple majority of Scots vote legally for independence, then the only laws that apply thereafter are those determined by their own elected government and those of international law and conventions.

Scotland has a legal vote at the next General Election and that is beyond question. What remains to be determined is whether or not more than 50% of voters will opt for independence. The Yes and No campaigns both need to put their cases and for most folk it is very simple – do you want change or not?

We all know what is meant by “no change” but what does “change” imply, other than a leap into the unknown? Do we know enough about the politicians who would form our new government or even have some idea of their policies and abilities? Would they be any better than those we sent to Westminster over the years? These are the questions being asked by that key 15% of citizens yet to decide how they would vote in a referendum.

There may be a few clues to be found in the performance of the present devolved government but that is like trying to assess the calibre of an athlete with their hands tied and feet hobbled. Judging the calibre of individual politicians in advance is no easier – they can talk well enough but are conditioned to reacting to events rather than shaping them. So where do we look for these clues?

There is no crystal ball, but there is a draft constitution. It may sound a bit dry and boring and usually it is just that – when it is written up by politicians. A constitution devised by parliamentarians to guide and manage the business of Parliament is an invitation to write your own job specification and conditions of employment. If that draft potentially curbed the ambitions of any influential politicians it would be unlikely to see the light of day.

Conversely, a draft constitution devised, debated and voted upon by interested citizens and then placed before a formal Citizens’ Assembly would be very different. More importantly, it would provide all the clues we need in order to judge the difference between “change” and “no change”.

To a significant extent it would place the political direction of Scotland as a nation in the hands of its citizens rather than in those of a small group of politicians.

Almost 1000 Scots have already registered to participate in drafting this transparent digital document, either to comment, make amendments or vote for their preferred content. You can find it at Those who have registered come from all walks of life and seem to include several lawyers – but it all remains in everyday language which everyone can understand. At this stage it is for us ordinary citizens to make our thoughts known and the legal stuff can come later.

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The real challenge is whether enough of us perceive this as the best way to resolve the big issue – the need for a credible and reliable democratic source on what independence will really mean for Scotland.

If we contribute what we are able, even if it is simply to vote for your preferences on a few issues which interest you, then you have played your part. Not least, you will also be providing a not always sympathetic media with some fact-based information to counter less-informed speculation.

Growing a genuine citizens’ constitution needs more than 1000 trailblazers. Every citizen who wants change needs to sign up. It costs nothing except your time and a need to make your mark. is a registered Scottish charity with the aim of advancing participative democracy within the community of Scotland. You can read more than 1000 comments across 15 articles and participate in preparing a Scottish constitution. 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. Contact to arrange