UNSURPRISINGLY, much is written about Scotland’s constitutional relationships with the UK and Europe and our devolved as opposed to independent status. It’s this paper’s bread and butter. I call this our macro democratic argument, but it’s what I call our micro democratic systems I write to focus on. I will argue we are surrendering our sovereignty to political parties at each election.

I wish to explain this with an analogy. Imagine you wish to choose a cruise or coach holiday. It’s near impossible to go yourself, so you must rely on tours offered by companies. There may be no tour available to where you ideally want to go, so you chose the one which best suits. 30% will decide none are suitable and stay home. There are no guarantees in these offers, so once you sign up you lose control of the tour. The company can tell you that unforeseen conditions have forced them to change the advertised tour. If fact, they can change the driver during the tour without consulting you and he/she can then take you on a different tour of their choosing. There is little you can do except complain and maybe choose a different company next time.

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Why should decisions about the content of manifestos and scrutiny of actions not involve the voting public? Why should parties be allowed to accept the undue influence of large donations?

Why should parties be allowed to “whip” members for non-manifesto issues (ie, the Labour Party over Gaza ceasefire)? As with the analogous coach tour, we are very largely surrendering our involvement between elections. A more continuous involvement would improve our democracy, regardless of your political hue.

The suggestions for these improvements come from Common Weal in their recent publication, Sorted: A Handbook for a Better Scotland. I will briefly summarise these suggestions, but reading the relevant chapter would add much more detail.

1) National elections every four years using an expanded system to produce a proportionally represented government. Its purpose is to enact laws.

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2) Establish a powerful national council, autonomous from parliament, consisting seconded members of the public for a two-year period. Respecting our demographics, citizens would be invited to serve randomly with full training, clerical support and financial security with a legally enforced entitlement to resume their job following the secondment. They would be responsible to scrutinise and amend laws and call public inquiries if necessary.

3) Establish citizens assemblies where members (again invited randomly) would meet to discuss and offer advice regarding issues. Ireland has used such assemblies to discuss issues such as abortion to guide their government. Minority views would also be expressed. I think parties should be obliged to adopt or reject views from these assemblies to form their manifestos.

4) Experts, pressure groups or individuals should have an organised right to advise or comment on proposals so that the conclusion of these statements should be addressed by the government.

5) Mutuality should be established, with all nationally-run organisations giving citizens the same right as shareholders so that decisions and actions are made known to enable public action if necessary.

The chapter also addresses why local should mean local. Please refer to the book for much greater detail.

The more involved we are on an ongoing basis, the better. Parties will not support these intrusions into their powers, so we the people must argue for measures like these to be included in any prospectus for an independent Scotland and crucially be included in our new written constitution.

Campbell Anderson