Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Scotland’s Constitutional Future

Last week I was involved in the submission of a response to the UK Government’s consultation on Scotland’s Constitutional future.

The debate around the whole issue of constitutional change is an important and interesting one. However any change must bring about it social justice benefits through reducing poverty and improving health and education for the people of Scotland.

This issue is not about how many questions there are but about self-determination and the right of the electorate of Scotland to vote for or against any constitutional change.

Neither independence for Scotland, not increased devolution, nor the status quo are prizes in themselves. The real victory lies in the alleviation of poverty, the reduction of ill-health and forgiveness in the criminal justice system and society. It should also be about a cultural change that leads to building better neighbourhoods, the removal of prejudice that feeds things like sectarianism and building a society that welcomes strangers without qualification.

Whatever the process it must be handled by an independent body with experience of handling referenda and there must be sufficient time for key issues to be fully debated.

Whatever your political views it is important that we all take the time to carefully consider and discuss with each other what kind of Scotland we would like to live in and make our decisions based on that and not be influenced by political pressure. If we get this wrong we cannot go back to the ballot box in four years time and try to fix it. We must get this right first time - therefore any timetable must allow sufficient time for appropriate debate by all.

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