The Scottish government has outlined Scotland's transition from
part of the Union to an independent state
Scottish independence: written constitution part of road to statehood
The Scottish government has plotted the transition from being part of the Union to an independent country in a 16-page paper.
Under the assumption that Scots will vote yes in next year’s referendum, the SNP envision that independence would be gained in March 2016. The first parliament of an independent Scotland would then be elected the following May.
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Perhaps the most notable element in the document is confirmation that there will be a written constitution for Scotland.
The SNP-written document said that the Scottish government would encompass values that Scots “hold dear”, such as the right to a home and education. The party also promised to strive to “prevent weapons of mass destruction being based in Scotland; and prevent the government from engaging in illegal wars.”
Alluding to the crowd-sourced constitution in Iceland, which was crafted alongside the participation of Icelandic citizens, the paper said:
“The Government’s view is that the process of shaping the new constitution should be participative and command the support of the whole of Scotland. When the process of determining the constitution gets underway, the Scottish Government will be just one of many voices.”
Patrick Harvie, Co-convener of the Scottish Greens welcomed news of a written constitution.
Mr Harvie, whose party officially backs Scottish independence said: “The Scottish Green Party has long supported a written constitution, and we adopted support for a constitutional prohibition of weapons of mass destruction last year.
"The approach suggested by the Scottish Government will help voters and politicians alike to start considering the practical steps to be taken in the event of a Yes vote, and it will become ever clearer that independence will open up new opportunities to improve Scotland from day one.”
However, the post-referendum transition document was met with criticism from Scottish opposition leaders.
Scottish Labour Leader, Johann Lamont MSP, said that the SNP were prioritising the paper over existing problems in the country such as a struggling NHS, cut police numbers and youth unemployment.
Miss Lamont said:
“The government's shovel ready projects have stalled, unemployment is higher than the rest of the UK and thousands of students are on college waiting lists.
“And what is the Scottish Government’s response? They issue documents quoting Abraham Lincoln on written constitutions.”
Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie MSP said that that the measures required to move from a UK constituent to independence had been “underestimated” by the SNP.
Mr Rennie said:
"The SNP have hopelessly underestimated the scale and complexity of this. They would have to negotiate over 14,000 international treaties, a currency, the division of assets, membership of NATO and the host of international organisations.
"To say they will bang all this through in just 16 months is absurd. This will give most people in Scotland the shivers and fuel suspicion that the SNP are just making it up as they go along."
The SNP government’s paper calls on UK ministers to collaborate on the planning of the transition, however, the Scottish Secretary Michael Moore last month said that coalition ministers will not undergo any negotiations prior to the referendum.
SNP MSP Annabelle Ewing, who sits on the Scottish parliament’s Referendum Bill committee, said that the paper showed detailed plans on the yes side which should pressurise Better Together to provide a clearer argument for remaining in the Union.
Ms Ewing said:
"The material being published has clearly caught the No campaign on the hop - having called for the detail of an independent Scotland, they now criticise it before they have even read what is being proposed!
"The No campaign so far has done nothing except say No to every positive thing that is proposed for Scotland - that is why its support has slipped since the New Year, and why we now require a swing of just over 7.5 per cent for Yes to move ahead in the polls."
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