Sunday, 1 July 2012

How Should Scotland Function After Independence?

The most important thing to remember about independence is that it is not and cannot simply be a matter of ripping the British flag down and replacing it with our own. It cannot be a matter of replacing the discredited and failed, centralised and corrupt British government merely with different accents. 

Therefore, independence cannot be - and is not - a manifestation of nationalism: it is the recognition that to change our system of government for the benefit of the many, not the few, cannot be achieved through the Westminster system: an affront to democracy which has three branches of legislature, only one of which is elected. 

The Westminster system is autoresistant to attempts to reform it: the system itself is inherently unreformable, for if it was to be reformed, and was it to transition to a democratic system, then the system would cease to exist. Just as the Soviet Union found out that you can't reform the Soviet system without destroying it in the process, so it is with Westminster. 

With that in mind, and bearing in mind that if a reformed, fair Britain was on the agenda, one which treated Scotland with the respect and esteem we demand and deserve, support for an independent Scotland would dip, we cannot simply transfer the functions of Westminster to Holyrood. 

We have to genuinely make our case for how Scotland should look after independence is regained. And it must be substantially and visibly fairer than Westminster. We should also remember that within every country, one group holds too much power and another is marginalised. In the United Kingdom, the marginalised part is played by Scotland. We must remember this as we build our new republic. 

So, here's my 2 eurocents on how the administration of the country should work. 

Scotland should be operated as a symmetric, co-operative federal republic, taking as much power as possible out of the hands of the bureaucrats and central ministers, and placing power over local affairs into the hands of local people. 

But we have to balance that against the dangers of having duplicated layers of salaried politicians.

The Head of State should be the Chairman of the Council of Federation Ministers - elected directly by universal suffrage for a maximum of two consecutive or nonconsecutive seven year terms. 

The Council of Federation Ministers would be the Federal Cabinet, comprising the Ministries of the Interior, Foreign Affairs, Economy, International Assistance and Defence. This Cabinet would be selected from the Federal Assembly using the d'Hondt method of proportional representation.

The Federal Assembly should be a unicameral assembly with of fifty members serving four-year terms - 26 elected by the Single Transferable Vote using a nationwide slate, and two members appointed by each of the 12 constituent parliaments. 

In terms of the constituent regions (provinces, republics, states, whatever), the 12 should be designed to maximise the diversity of Scotland, following a mix of the old Regions and the current Parliamentary Regions:

1. Strathclyde
2. Glasgow
3. Galloway
4. Lothian/Border
5. Central Scotland
6. Fife
7. Tay
8. Grampian
9. Highland
10. Western Isles
11. Orkney
12. Shetland

This ensures that genuine devolution of powers go to the more isolated regions of Scotland, which often feel themselves as distant from Holyrood as they do from London. Going "too far" in terms of devolution may be preferable. 

Each province would be in control of all powers (local taxation, sales taxes, police budgets  etc) that the Federal Cabinet does not control. 

It would be up to each province to design its own internal parliamentary structures and its own measure of internal devolution as long as these comply with the provisions of the constitution.

I'm sure there are many reasons why this would be unworkable! However, this is my vision of how a Federal Republic of Scotland could look. 

No comments:

Post a Comment