There are three characteristics of a good national administration:
Firstly, good politicians, who lead the administration, who take decisions and who defend those decisions with conviction, both internally and externally.
Secondly, clearly defined areas of responsibility between the government and parliament, and regional and local government, the judiciary and the supporting public services.
Thirdly, efficient and conscientious employees, who know who to turn to if there are disagreements to resolve.
None of these three characteristics is self-evident or simple to achieve; but when problems arise in the administration, the causes often lie in one or more of these areas.
The structure for these three characteristics to operate effectively is a codified written Constitution that clearly sets out the areas of authority, subsidiarity and responsibility.
Note. For a variety of reasons the usual process of public consultation seldom results in any material change to the original government proposals. It is difficult to draft any totally neutral template for a Constitution and this is evidenced in some elements of this introduction and the draft itself. It will be interesting to observe how they survive this new system of online consultation.
A Codified Written Constitution (CWC) is a framework for government institutions rather than a detailed policy document. It sets out the fundamental law that defines the state, establishes and regulates its institutions, protects its citizens by authorising the extent of powers available to the government, and in general provides an overarching legal framework for the governance and well-being of the people and the conduct of politics.
The Scottish Nation, a fusion of multiple peoples, is one of the most ancient nations in Europe, with 1500 years of shared experience as a political unit that has occupied its national territory throughout its entire history. Historical evidence shows that the Scottish Kingdom was founded by Fergus Mor around the year 500 AD and was a sovereign state for over 1200 years until Union with England was imposed in the year 1707.
The UK parliamentary system has not adapted to society as it is today. The system was built up in the industrial era, at a time of limited education and at a time of rigid traditional bonds of place, class, and institutional social structures. Today's better educated, more affluent and socially flexible population expects greater control and choice over the many aspects of their lives than today's politics provide. The people have moved on, but in the main, the system has stagnated.
Status of Governance: Currently, Scotland has too much centralised government - by Brussels, Westminster, Holyrood and Local Authorities, yet there is a marked lack of democratic representation and accountability.
Remote Control Governance: The current system was set up for remote, centralised control by the Westminster based Scottish Office, with little or no accountability to the electorate, resulting all too often with the stifling red tape driving our brightest talent to seek pastures abroad. Devolving some authority to Holyrood has merely transferred some of these controlling powers to the Scottish Cabinet.
Accountability: Under the current forms of government there is an absence of accountability to the electorate (the employers) that makes a written Constitution not only desirable but also essential. A Codified Written Constitution (CWC) pinned by constitutional sovereignty would provide improved accountability and democracy in comparison to the current system of parliamentary sovereignty that makes accountability very difficult.
Public Involvement: It is considered that the necessary constitutional reform can only be achieved by a a CWC. The new Constitution should be compiled following extensive public debate.
Authority: Under a codified written Constitution the supreme sovereign authority rests with the people not with Parliament as currently accepted.
Rationale: A CWC will provide the path to a fairer, more enterprising and inclusive society based on greater citizen involvement. It would change our lives for the better by supporting the values that we hold dear.
Constitutional Framework: To promote flexibility, the Constitution - as the Fundamental Law - performs as the roots and trunk of a treelike structure, with the branches being the enabling Acts of Parliament. The Acts of Parliament should contain the detailed content, which can, when appropriate, be amended to suit the evolving needs of society.
Devolved Government: In order for the electorate to feel any ownership of the political system they must understand how they can influence the decision-making process system and see the results of their input on a local or a personal basis. It is therefore proposed that the Community Councils be provided with clearly defined powers, funds and assets. It is proposed that the thirty-two (32) Local Authorities and their current powers be reorganised and divided between a lessor number of larger Regional Assemblies and the local Community (Burgh) Councils. All of the powers and responsibilities of the current local authorities should be evaluated and progressively divided between regional assemblies and community councils to achieve viable and practical, fit for purpose people based outcomes.
Accountability: In a democracy members of Parliament are primarily accountable to their constituents at all times
The incumbent Scottish Government & The Constitution
Cn June 2014 the Scottish government published “THE SCOTTISH INDEPENDENCE BILL: A CONSULTATION ON AN INTERIM CONSTITUTION FOR SCOTLAND” - 20,000 word setting out an interim constitution pending the appointment of an independent convention to consult widely in the preparation of a permanent Constitution.
It states -
“The autonomy of the convention is an important matter guaranteed by ensuring that neither the Scottish Government nor the Scottish Parliament can direct or control the Convention and its members or staff”. It also provides for “its membership and funding arrangements; the time it has to draw up the constitution; its working methods; the procedure by which the constitution is to be approved; and its dissolution having completed its work.”
The draft Bill continues, “ The current Scottish Government will be just one voice amongst many in this process. The Scottish Government would make proposals for some issues to be included in the constitution, as set out further in Chapter 5, but would not control the process or the content of the constitution. It will be open to all groups, and also individual citizens of an independent Scotland, to make proposals for the constitution that the independent Convention will consider and upon which it will decide.”
Popular sovereignty is endorsed with - “The accountability provisions in section 12 are significant. That Government is accountable to Parliament and Parliament to the electorate is implicit within existing arrangements, but the Government believes that one of the advantages of moving to a written constitution is that such basic and fundamental democratic principles can, and should be, expressly stated. This provision is also a practical articulation of the sovereignty of the people – Parliament and Government are subject to the people and their authority derives from the people”.
This document contains much of good intent, however, it is important that such aspirations survive the political critique of parliament.
The constitution needs to be completed and nailed to the post well before any new referendum because it sets out exactly what the electorate is being asked to vote for.
The public status of the currency, pensions and the financial structure must be clearly defined,and by no means least, ‘public consultation’ as currently employed by government is an unacceptable measure in this age of digital communication & technology. There must be clear water between the consultation process and the State.