The revolution must be constitutionalised

by Elias Blum

‘It is extremely easy to break down an existing form of government, but to build up anything substantial in its place is a matter of considerable difficulty [….] and a long period of disorder must ensue during which the best efforts of the best men will not suffice to prevent ridiculous situations from arising.’ (Maj-Gen Lionel Dunsterville)

The above quote emphasises the centrality of the constitution-building process to Scottish independence. The aim of the Scottish independence movement cannot be simply to free Scotland from the UK and ‘London rule’. It must aim, rather, to build in its place a new Scottish state – a stable, well-functioning, capable and responsive state, built upon sound democratic constitutional foundations.

The text of a Scottish constitution should be agreed in advance of the next independence referendum. There’s nothing to stop the Scottish Government establishing a Constitutional Conference to start discussions now. Ideally, when the people vote in that referendum they should be able to make their decision on the basis of specific constitutional proposal, which would then – if approved – come into effect on independence day. 

Only in this way can Scottish independence be offered on terms that provide legal continuity, institutional clarity, and a legitimate and inclusive political order. If we leave constitution-building until after independence, there’s too much risk of failure, diversion, deliberate delay, or state-capture. 

No leaps into the dark. No politicians’ promises. No replacement of an absolute Westminster with an absolute Holyrood. No sacrificing of fundamental rights,  electoral integrity, judicial independence, or impartial administration. 

The revolution must be constitutionalised.