Constitutional and Electoral Reform and a Referendum on Independence

A referendum on Independence for Scotland

Devolution and the Scottish Parliament have been a big step forward, not least because the Scottish Parliament elections include some MSPs elected by proportional representation (though all should be).

However the Scottish Parliament lacks power over even many vital domestic policies – from energy policy and railways in Scotland to immigration, health and safety, social security and employment law.

The Afghanistan and Iraq wars, the London bombings and attempted Glasgow airport attack and the risk of British involvement in a US-led war on Iran (even under Obama), all the results of decisions which no Scottish government could have got through the Scottish Parliament, all suggest we need control of our own foreign policy too – which means independence, either inside Europe (like Sweden) or outside Europe (like Norway).

It was not a co-incidence that London and Glasgow and Madrid were all the targets of terrorist attacks, while Oslo and Stockholm were not. Britain and Spain had troops in Iraq at the time of both bombings – Norway and Sweden didn’t. Being part of the UK is not making us safer, but putting us in greater danger.

Being independent within the EU would give us the economic security and the protection of being part of a larger bloc without bringing the risks on us which British governments have by following US foreign policy.

Many people are against independence and in any referendum on whether to stay part of the UK or not they would have the same say and vote as everyone else. If a referendum is held then the majority will decide whether Scotland stays as part of the UK, is independent within the EU, or independent outside the EU.


Proportional Representation for all elections

P.R is the only fully democratic election system, because it’s the only one in which everyone’s vote counts equally. Under first-past-the-post systems (like those for the Westminster Parliament and for the first vote in Scottish Parliament elections) any votes which don’t go to the candidate who got most votes in that constituency simply don’t count at all – they’re effectively counted, then thrown in the bin as far as representatives elected goes.

There is no truth in the claim that PR results in greater control for party leaders, that’s only true where parties are not internally democratic. Any bill to make all elections by proportional representation could also include a clause to require the position of candidates on a party list to be decided by a vote by party members, with candidates for that party ranked on the party list

Independent candidates (i.e candidates who are not members of any party) and small parties would stand a much better chance of being elected under proportional representation. The Scottish Parliament’s Additional Member System (the 2nd vote on the regional list by PR in Scottish Parliament elections) shows that in Scotland it would be independent candidates, Greens, Socialists and campaigners for the elderly who would be elected under P.R here, not the BNP. In England the BNP might gain some seats for a while, but non-racist small parties and independents would gain far more.

The Alternative Vote system proposed by the Labour party would be an improvement on first-past-the-post, allowing voters to vote for three candidates in order of preference (1st, 2nd and 3rd).  However it would still mean that once one candidate got over 50% of the vote no other votes in that constituency would count. So rather than say up to 60% of the vote going uncounted in many constituencies under first-past-the-post.


A written and codified constitution, drafted by an elected constitutional assembly

The UK's 'unwritten' constitution has in effect been no constitution at all, with the exception of the general principles of the legal systems of England and Wales on the one hand, Scotland on the other and the embodiment of European Human Rights treaties into law with the Human Rights Acts (which the government 'opts out of' whenever it feels like it).

While some documents and principles exist in English and Welsh law and in Scots law they have not been codified into any kind of single written constitution. Whether the UK stays together or Scotland becomes independent we need a codified, written constitution. The best way to write one is to have elections to a temporary constitutional assembly to draft a new constitution.