Principles and Guidelines for a Constitution for Scotland

These principles aim to incorporate the Key Principles enunciated by the Consultative Steering Group, together with the Claim of Right on which the 1990’s Constitutional Convention was based, and the work done by various groups since, re-formulated for the 21st century. They represent a draft for comment and further development, and were originally submitted to The National Conversation website in mid-August 2007. They could be summarised as:


I welcome this national conversation and hope it is a new stage in our progress towards a genuinely participative democracy. Responding to Alex Salmond’s challenge to think about what Scotland could and should be, I tried to formulate the principles on which I would wish a Constitution (preferably a written one) to be based. I started from the Claim of Right’s sovereignty of the people, and the CSG’s four principles already accepted by our Parliament, and developed them for the 21st Century:


  • This Constitution asserts the sovereignty of the Scottish people in respect of the governance of Scotland, including its natural resources,  and their right to determine the form of government and relations with other nations best suited to their needs.
  • The Scottish people recognize the equal worth of all human beings, and their right to pursue equal opportunities for the well-being of themselves and their families, within the recognition of the same right of all others. Human well-being encompasses health, education, economic and social, cultural and spiritual life, and a balance of rights and responsibilities.
  • The Scottish people claim the right to a representative and participative democracy, in which the Parliament is fairly elected and power is shared between the elected legislature and the people.
  • The Scottish Government is subject to the Constitution and accountable to the Parliament, and both the Government and the Parliament are accountable to the people.
  • The Scottish Government and Parliament must be accessible, open and responsive, providing means for the participation of the people in the development, consideration, design, scrutiny and assessment of policy and legislation.
  • The Scottish people recognize global inter-dependence and the necessity of co-operation at all levels of society and require their government and legislature to promote a culture of justice, tolerance, non-violence and peace in local, national and international relations.
  • The Scottish people recognize the necessity of ecological integrity and sustainable policy and practice  in all areas of life and all parts of the Earth, and require their government and legislature to protect and restore the integrity of Scotland’s ecological systems and support ecological integrity in international negotiations.

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