Referendum 2014
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Referendum 2014
The Scottish independence referendum and the debate about Scotland's constitutional future
Curated by Peter A Bell
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A Yes to Secure The Brightest Future

A Yes to Secure The Brightest Future | Referendum 2014 | Scoop.it

There is just seven days to go until Scotland will go to the polls for the most important democratic decision it will ever make. Some people have already sent away their ballot p...

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Crowdsourcing the Constitution - Lessons from Iceland

Crowdsourcing the Constitution - Lessons from Iceland | Referendum 2014 | Scoop.it
Back in June we brought Smári McCarthy to speak about post-Yes constitutional options and learnings from Iceland. If you missed his talk here's the full length of it. Special thanks to Andrew Crow ...

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The people will be sovereign | Yes Scotland

The people will be sovereign | Yes Scotland | Referendum 2014 | Scoop.it

In an independent Scotland, the people will be sovereign – that is the key principle underlying the draft interim constitution published by Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon today.

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Hacking a Scottish Constitution

Hacking a Scottish Constitution | Referendum 2014 | Scoop.it

As Scotland looks to explore a Citizens Assembly and National Council to build a new constitution ('Move to stop politicians carving up an indy Scotland') we are looking for inspiration and advice ...

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Independence constitution 'will be based on US'

THE written constitution of an independent Scotland would be inspired by the United States, Alex Salmond will tell an audience in New York today.
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Labour: we want assurances that SNP will not use majority to push through interim written constitution if Yes vote

Labour has sought assurances that the SNP will not use its majority to push through an interim written constitution if Scotland votes for independence.
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We The People – A Prototype Scottish Constitution Project

We The People – A Prototype Scottish Constitution Project | Referendum 2014 | Scoop.it
Scottish News, News Scotland - Politics, Referendum, Economy, Culture and intelligent opinion | Newsnet Scotland, uniquely Scottish
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Euan McColm: Human rights aren’t manifesto pledges

Euan McColm: Human rights aren’t manifesto pledges | Referendum 2014 | Scoop.it
IN THE political battle over Scotland’s constitutional future, we struggle to find any common ground on which opposing sides might meet.
Peter A Bell's insight:

It seems that Euan McColm has a nose for nonsense. Some might argue that he has a whole head for no other purpose. But that is as may be. On this occasion McColm has recognised the "palpable nonsense" of Scottish exceptionalism. What he fails to recognise is that the nonsense is entirely his own. Nobody has actually made the claims to the relative superiority of Scottish altruism that he has nonetheless contrived to hear inside his head.

To acknowledge a certain ethos on behalf of the people of Scotland, as Nicola Sturgeon and Roseanna Cunningham have done, in no way denies that ethos to anyone else. There is no claim to uniqueness or specialness either explicitly stated or implied. There is simply a noting of the fact that, as a nation, Scotland has an evident commitment to the protection of human dignity, to equality and fairness, and to the pursuit of social justice. Neither Surgeon nor Cunningham made any comparison between this commitment and that evident in other countries. But McColm has managed to convince himself that this is precisely what they did.

This is, of course, a manifestation of the notorious Scottish cringe. Cringers such as McColm cannot hear anything positive said about Scotland without angry embarrassment and knee-jerk denial. Their natural inclination is to denigrate Scotland. Anything beyond a grudging, "It's awright!", is regarded as lavish praise offensive in its excess.

Much of the nonsense that we get from commentators such as McColm - and there are all too many of them - stems from a kind of wilful shallowness. This, in turn, is the product of a mindless imperative to attack anything and everything that the SNP says and does even if this requires an interpretation of what has been said or done which is shallow to the point of inanity. McColm's musings on the matter of education are a case in point.

A thoughtful person should have no problem with the concept of education as a human right. Being thoughtful, they would inevitably see the right to an education as being encompassed by the more general principle of a right to realise potential. Or, possibly, a right not to be impeded in the pursuit of ones potential.

In his eagerness to find a stick with which to beat the hated SNP, however, Euan McColm elects to go with a rather less thoughtful interpretation of what the party is saying on the matter. He chooses to believe that they are suggesting that a specific right to a university education should be enshrined in a written constitution and afforded the status of, not merely a civil right, but a human right.

Once again, McColm has no trouble spotting the nonsensical nature of such a notion. Once again, what he is less adept at is figuring out that the nonsensical notion is entirely his own.

Whether we're talking about education and other social rights or about economic and cultural rights it isn't necessary to think in terms of specific entitlements rather than general principles. We don't have to talk nonsense.

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A Scottish constitution to serve the common weal

The so-called British constitution has always been a mess.

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The constitutional mess that now undoubtedly exists demands urgent review and reform

Matthew Flinders finds that it is not that people don’t care about British politics and its constitutional arrangements but that they simply don’t understand where power lies or why.This has resulted from reforms having been implemented in a manner...
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The one-state solution to England's role in a devolved UK

The one-state solution to England's role in a devolved UK | Referendum 2014 | Scoop.it
Vernon Bogdanor: The constitutional issues facing the United Kingdom can only be resolved with a genuine attempt to codify Britishness
Peter A Bell's insight:

This whole article begs an obvious question. Why should England's constitutional problems be Scotland's constitutional problem? For Scotland, the solution is simple and obvious. And when Scotland's constitutional status is normalised perhaps that will trigger the necessary reforms in the rest of the UK.

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Meeting of the Minds on a Written Scottish Constitution

Last weekend, March 16 in Paris at the Fondation Nationale des Sciences Politiques, I had the honour of hosting an academic conference on a written Scottish constitution.  It succeeded beyond my highest aspirations.

 

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Scottish independence: SNP vow on human rights

Scottish independence: SNP vow on human rights | Referendum 2014 | Scoop.it
Scotland would enshrine the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) in its constitution if the country votes for independence, the Scottish Government has confirmed.
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Witterings of a Weegiewarbler: An Open Letter To An Unapproachable Prime Minister.

Witterings of a Weegiewarbler: An Open Letter To An Unapproachable Prime Minister. | Referendum 2014 | Scoop.it

I hope that you will take the time to read this, that it finds its way into your hands. You see, I’d like just three questions answered, and if you can answer them to my satisfaction, I’ll really, truly might consider a ‘No’ vote.

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Smári McCarthy : Crowdsourcing the Constitution

Smári McCarthy : Crowdsourcing the Constitution | Referendum 2014 | Scoop.it
A few weeks ago Bella brought Icelandic information activist Smári McCarthy to Edinburgh to give a talk on Crowdsourcing the Constitution. Here's an interview with him about democracy and power (th...
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A written constitution 'need not wait for Scottish independence'

A written constitution 'need not wait for Scottish independence' | Referendum 2014 | Scoop.it
Angus Reid: The case for a new people's constitution is moving to the centre of the Scottish independence debate, but why must a yes vote be necessary? Scotland can take a lead within the UK.
Peter A Bell's insight:

This makes no sense. How can Scotland have a constitution of any kind when all constitutional matters are reserved to Westminster? What we have here is something that looks very much like an attempt to deceive people into thinking they can vote No and yet still get something that is "as good as" independence. I don't suppose many will be foolish enough to fall for such an obvious ruse.

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Lallands Peat Worrier

Lallands Peat Worrier | Referendum 2014 | Scoop.it
Independence day. After months of negotiations, Scotland's formal ties with the UK have been unravelled. Compromises have been made on each side, but overall, both parties are as satisfied as they ever could be with the outcome. A new chapter opens on inter-governmental relationships in these islands, and a refounded, strengthened Scottish Parliament sits for the first time.  But wait one moment. What powers does this new legislature have? And what limits on its powers?
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Scottish independence: Kirk in debate change call

Scottish independence: Kirk in debate change call | Referendum 2014 | Scoop.it
THE Church of Scotland has called for an independence referendum debate that focuses on “integrity and community – not just cash and constitutions”.
Peter A Bell's insight:

It sometimes seems that, whatever the debate is about, somebody will insist it should be about something else. I long since wearied of the Riddoch/Hassan tendency which constantly berates us for having the wrong people talking to the wrong people about the wrong things in the wrong way at the wrong time and in the wrong place.

While I certainly agree that the referendum debate should be about more than just money, I find it rather odd to suggest that a debate on Scotland's constitutional future might be conducted while eschewing any discussion of "constitutions". This is, in essence, a constitutional debate and all other matters, including the economics of it all, are secondary to the core consideration framed in the question, "Should Scotland be an independent country?".

How might we hope for the "integrity, accountability and transparency" that people evidently want in Scotland's politics if the conditions necessary to bring this about are not enshrined in a written constitution?

In very large part, the failings and deficiencies of British politics are a consequence of the lack of a constitution and the constraints that it provides. However much the British parties may try to convince us otherwise, that situation is not going to change any time soon - and probably not ever. The "flexibility" offered by an almost infinitely re-interpretable unwritten constitution is just too useful to the ruling elites of the British state for them ever to relinquish the advantage it gives them in favour of something which would threaten to limit their power.

This is why we need independence. We need to be able to pursue an emphasis on "integrity and community" by constitutional means. and that requires that we first restore Scotland's rightful constitutional status.

First and foremost, we demand independence because it is right. Not because we will be richer or happier, but because the people are sovereign. That "natural" sovereignty of the people of Scotland is actively denied by the British state in favour of a contrived authority vested in the ruling elites. The British state - or the synthetic "country" called Britain - is absolutely defined by its structures of power and privilege. It not only will not change, it cannot change. It cannot be both Britain and a nation in which the people are sovereign and, thereby, empowered to shape the nation according to their needs, priorities and aspirations.

To have any hope of making Scotland the kind of nation to which its people aspire we must break away from the stultifying embrace of the British state and its foetid politics. For all the high-minded rhetoric of the Kirk - and despite the distractions and diversions of those who would, for the convenience of the British nationalist cause, make it all about economics - the referendum debate is inevitably and ineluctably about "integrity and community" BECAUSE AND SO LONG AS it takes Scotland's constitutional status as its central concern.

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Wooing the undecided voter

Wooing the undecided voter | Referendum 2014 | Scoop.it

UNDECIDED -- unsure, uncertain, doubtful, dubious, unresolved, indecisive, irresolute, hesitant, tentative, wavering, vacillating, oscillating, equivocating, dithering, uncommitted, floating, shilly-shallying, wobbling, vague, hazy, unclear, ambivalent, in two minds, torn and split.


Peter A Bell's insight:

We are all by now accustomed to Lesley Riddoch constant bleating about how we're doing the referendum campaign all wrong. If she and others of her persuasion (Gerry Hassan?) are to be believed we have the wrong people talking to the wrong people about the wrong things at the wrong time in the wrong places and in the wrong way. If there are any other ways that the Yes campaign might be wrong then I'm sure we're all guilty of that as well.

If Ms Riddoch's assessment of the independence campaign is even close to being realistic then it is a wonder that we managed to get a referendum at all, far less that support for a Yes vote is steadily increasing. And, in the face of the absolute hash we are apparently making of things, it is totally inexplicable that there should be such a proliferation of groups clamouring for a place under the Yes Scotland umbrella.

But no matter how stubbornly the reality refuses to conform to Ms Riddoch's portrayal, the incessant background drone of complaint goes on. It has become as much part of the audio wallpaper of the referendum campaign as the grinding negativity of Project Fear.

But here we find a new undercurrent to Ms Riddoch's customary tut-tuttery. A shrillness, almost a nastiness, that I have not previously detected. Comments such as, "absence of all questioning, debate or hesitation amongst Yes supporters" and "uncritical, born-again supporters of the Independence campaign" would be more at home in one of Alan Cochrane's bitterly deluded diatribes.

This is certainly not the independence campaign that I see. Admittedly, I am immersed in the online side of that campaign more than the "real world" aspect of public meetings. But I attend enough meetings and encounter enough Yes activists socially to know that there is a very substantial overlap between the two prongs of the campaign. The people who go to meetings tend to be the same people who blog, post, comment and tweet online.

Neither in the virtual nor the actual realms have I found these people to be the mindless, servile, sycophantic drones of Lesley Riddoch's caricature. On the contrary, I find that all the interesting and meaningful discussion of Scotland's potential is taking place within the Yes campaign. And there is substantial disagreement among Yes campaigners about both the process of becoming independent and what being independent might mean.

Certainly, there is enthusiasm. Fervour, even. And there is common cause. Unity of purpose. But to mistake this for a homogeneous mass of unquestioning zealotry displays a shallowness that does Ms Riddoch no credit at all.

Without being complacent about the chances of success, I would insist that the independence movement is in remarkably good health. The kind of debates that Lesley Riddoch evidently wants INSTEAD of the constitutional one are actually happening. And they are happening very largely because the constitutional debate has opened up a space in which progressive thinking can flourish, and with it a breadth and depth of political discourse such as Scotland has not seen in a generation or more.

We are not children or imbeciles. We are perfectly capable of talking about the fundamental constitutional issue AND matters such as social justice and improved democracy. There is no mutual exclusivity here. Indeed, as we ponder Scotland's future, we need all the richness of vision that we can muster.

Contrary to Ms Riddoch's rather unfortunate assertions, that richness of vision, and accompanying vitality of debate, most assuredly does exist within Scotland's independence movement.

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Salmond: Scottish constitution will let us move away from undemocratic Westminster

Salmond: Scottish constitution will let us move away from undemocratic Westminster | Referendum 2014 | Scoop.it
Creating a written constitution for an independent Scotland will help the country move away from a "profoundly undemocratic" system at Westminster, First Minister Alex Salmond will say today.
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Perspectives: 'Enshrining LGBT equality in a written constitution'

Perspectives: 'Enshrining LGBT equality in a written constitution' | Referendum 2014 | Scoop.it

The main focus for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people campaigning in Scotland in the next 15 months should be the opportunity to have their rights enshrined in a written constitution, Stewart McDonald writes in the Herald.

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A Scottish Liberal: Is there a need for a UK Constitutional Convention?

The tantalising prospect of a new UK-wide constitutional convention has been advocated in recent weeks by the esteemed constitutional expert Professor Vernon Bogdanor.

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Conference calls for constitutional ban on WMDs | Scottish National Party

Conference calls for constitutional ban on WMDs | Scottish National Party | Referendum 2014 | Scoop.it

SNP Conference has today (Saturday) given its overwhelming backing for the constitution of an independent Scotland to include a ban on nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction.

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Who will say which laws are constitutional?

If SCOTLAND becomes an independent state, the Scotland Act 1998, which created the Scottish Parliament, becomes void. A new constitution will need to be drawn up; a process that on average takes about two years.
Peter A Bell's insight:

This sounds more like a consideration than an impediment.

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