This will be my last post as a co-editor at Better Nation. I did my best to keep myself (and hopefully others) entertained with random scribblings on Scottish Politics not to mention the distant, and occasionally dim, referendum. It is now, alas, time to pack up and move on to pastures no doubt less green and for perfectly healthy offline reasons, I may add.
I won’t be leaving any rules or regulations behind that current and future editors will have to abide by.
I can’t help be struck however that, on that last point, my view of how to leave the past behind is at odds with many within Yes Scotland. Everyone wants to leave a legacy behind them wherever they go, be it big or small, but an eternal written constitution is something else entirely. First Minister Alex Salmond is often disparagingly referred to as the ‘dear Leader’ in the North Korean mould, but setting his and his party’s views in stone for future generations is, for me, a troubling prospect. The First Minister stated back in January that he wanted the right to a house, a ban on nuclear weapons and free education to be included in a written constitution, which looks eerily like a party manifesto rather than a wider, balanced document.
There’s enough partisan bickering at the Parliament without the need for scrabbling over the chisel of a national tablet of stone. The current, lamentable SNP vs Labour bunfight over how Scotland should mitigate the Bedroom Tax should help highlight how any constitutional debate would go. Best to just not go there.
Looking at constitutions around the world they seem to be millstones around a nation’s neck or a handy way to muddy the waters of a given argument, rather than a guarantee of equality and statehood. Crazed gun nuts hide behind the U.S. Constitution to defend their supposed right to carry deadly weapons while the eye-watering death toll in that corner of the world mounts higher by the day. That same constitution, in its original form, measured a black person as equal to three fifths of a white person and, more recently, ensured Barack Obama’s healthcare proposals was one Supreme Court vote away from being against the law, despite an electoral mandate. In France, Hollande’s wildly popular 75% tax on the rich was struck down as being unconstitutional.
Scotland would not necessarily create these same elephant traps and roadblocks for itself if the wording of any such constitution was sufficiently obtuse, but then one has to ask what the point of it would be. Surely the Government and law courts of the day should be able to manage the country in line with the views of the public at that time, without the need for a constitution, or a revising Chamber or a House of Lords for that matter.
After all, what is so fantastic about our current crop of MSPs and civic leaders that require their views to be enshrined in statute for ever more?
We need to trust future generations to improve upon the current, be that on written constitutions, climate change or blogs. For the latter, I have no fears that the media (via the dead tree press or otherwise), and Better Nation in particular, has the potential to constantly improve and be even better than it has been in the recent past, whoever may be writing the content or providing the guest posts.
(Yes, that was one final hint to you, yes you dear reader, to send something in to the rest of the team for consideration).
Good luck comrades!