Scotland has never had a defined national constitution. Globally, there are two countries which have no constitution – Israel and New Zealand. And, of course, the 3 countries and the piece of Ireland which are within the United Kingdom today, don’t independently have their own constitutions. Nor, it must be said, does the UK itself.
As Scotland gets ready for the next independence campaign, there are three constitution projects underway. The first, part of the Common Weal’s White Paper project, has been written by Dr W Elliot Bulmer, Research Director of the Constitutional Commission until 2013. His draft can be read and downloaded from Common Weal, All of us First website. Both of the other two projects below, draw on Dr Bulmer’s outline document.
The second project is led from the Centre for Scottish Constitutional Studies, an independent think-tank founded some years before the 2014 referendum. A video helps introduce their ideas on how to begin writing a constitution for Scotland from scratch and their prospectus may downloaded from their website. Like the next and third project, the CSCS intends its work to be widely read and written by everyone in Scotland with an interest in shaping an independent Scotland. To facilitate this, they’re building an interactive website, the draft of which may be viewed here (best to use a desktop or lap top as it’s an early draft and not yet optimised).
The third project comes from Dr. Mark McNaught, Professor of Law, Philosophy, and US Civilization at the University of Rennes. Dr McNaught brings to the task years of experience in studying constitutional law, and seeks to incorporate best practice from other nations into the creation of a new constitution for Scotland. The website, scottishconstitution.com contains the draft constitution, a draft of new Scottish Institutions and a constituent process for a new independent Scottish state. Like the CSCS project, Dr McNaught advocates and encourages everyone to discuss, view and suggest changes and edits to the draft paper. To this end, he has built the draft on a wiki platform to allow viewing and, if you register on the site, to suggest changes.
All three of these projects are immensely valuable contributions to the independent country that Scotland will become. And it is for the people of Scotland – and no-one else – to decide the path that our country takes. Like whether Scotland remains a monarchy or becomes a republic, or whether it should be in the EU or Efta. One way we can do that is to start discussions now on the shape of our future constitution.