After the Referendum: Options For a Constitutional Convention – Join Us For the Launch

The Constitution Society is happy to announce the launch of a new paper After the Referendum: Options For a Constitutional Convention. Worked on in conjunction with Unlock Democracy and authored by eminent constitutional expert, Dr Alan Renwick, the paper explores different models for a constitutional convention, citing the importance if Scotland votes ‘yes’ or ‘no’.

To join us for the launch of this paper in Parliament on 29th April with the author, Graham Allan MP and Lord MacLennan, please sign-up here. Physical copies of the report will be available on the night and PDFs will be available for download on the website shortly afterwards.

A summary of the paper is set out below:

Whatever the result of Scotland’s independence referendum, careful constitutional thinking will be needed. If Scots vote Yes, Scotland will need a new constitution and the rest of the UK will have to rethink its governing structures. Even in the event of a No vote, everyone agrees that the shape of the Union will need to change over the coming years. This paper examines how such constitution-making should take place. It sets out the options, gathers evidence from around the world on how those Read more ›

9th April 2014

“If Scotland says ‘No’ – what next for the Union” – launch at the party conferences

The Constitution Society was delighted to partner with three leading think tanks to launch our new pamphlet If Scotland says ‘No’ – what next for the Union at Liberal Democrat, Labour and Conservative party conferences. 

Working with CentreForum we launched the paper in Glasgow with a panel made up of Rt Hon Michael Moore MP (then Secretary of State for Scotland, Professor Michael Keating (University of Aberdeen), Magnus Linklater (senior journalist) with Mure Dickie (Financial Times) chairing. 

The report attracted a packed audience down in Brighton at Labour Conference with a panel made up of Margaret Curran MP (Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland), Owen Smith MP (Shadow Secretary of State for Wales), James Hallwood (The Constitution Society), Sarah Boyack MSP and Marcus Roberts from the Fabian Society chairing. 

Finally at Conservative Party conference we were joined by Jacob Rees-Mogg MP, Rt Hon David Mundell MP, Nat le Roux (The Constitution Society), Phillip Blond (ResPublica) with Alan Cochrane (Scottish Telegraph) in the chair. A video of the final session can be found here.

We were pleased with the keen interest with which our paper was met and the informed questions and opinions of the audiences at all three party conferences. 

Discussion ranged from whether the referendum will be won or lost to the ‘English question’ with many topics amongst that mix. Let us know what your thoughts are by tweeting us via @Con_Soc 

25th October 2013

Sir John Elvidge APPG Meeting On Scottish Referendum

The latest meeting of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on the British Constitution was honoured to have as its main speaker, Sir John Elvidge, former Permanent Secretary to the Scottish government 2003 – 2010.

Sir John opened the discussion of the issues surrounding the upcoming independence vote by: firstly laying out what he believed were three misjudgments about the nature of constitutional change relating to it, secondly stating what he believed were the two most interesting judgments the UK government has made in its wrangling with the independence movement, and finally outlining the most difficult decision the Scottish government has to consider and get right in this process. Following his introduction, the distinguished guest fielded questions from a room full of parliamentarians and interested observers on the nature of the upcoming referendum, its most important developments so far, and where it might go in the future. 

 Topics discussed included:

  • The calculated risks taken by both governments in framing how the referendum will take place.
  • The extent to which voters’ decisions will be driven by emotional and idealistic notions tied to culture or hard-headed economic reasoning.
  • How the SNP plans to deal with fiscal issues of social security spending and its investment in renewable energy.
  • How important the UK’s continuing EU membership is to Scottish voters.

  And perhaps most intriguingly…

  • The continuing future of ‘DevoMax’ as an alternative option to a Yes/No decision.
  • What a close-margin outcome to the vote could mean for the future of Scotland, independent or not.
  • The possible future of the Orkney, Shetland, and Western Isles if the rest of the country decides to vote Yes.

The full audio recording of this meeting can be found here to listen to or download along with a host of other APPG podcasts.

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13th August 2013

Professor Michael Keating speaks about Scotland’s future

Professor Michael Keating is currently writing a paper for The Constitution Society on the important topic of Scotland’s future after the independence referendum in 2014. We will be launching his piece along with responses from CentreForum, the Fabian Society and ResPublica at the party conferences.

In the meanwhile, Professor Keating was kind enough to join us for a quick talk on the issues facing Scotland and her relationship with the rest of the UK. Click here to watch the video.

Professor Keating is the Chair in Scottish Politics at the University of Aberdeen and a key voice on the topics of devolution and nationalism.

The Constitution Society looks forward to launching this timely piece of research in Glasgow at Liberal Democrat party conference, before taking it to Brighton and Manchester platforming the groundbreaking work before Labour and Conservative party conferences respectively. 

The Coalition’s mid-term constitutional plans

It’s been a furiously busy two years of constitutional news: from the AV referendum and failed Lords reform to elected Police Commissioners and fixed-term parliaments. But now with the Coalition reaching mid-point in this parliament what constitutional issues will be raised in the run-up to 2015?

The downgrading of Chloe Smith’s role from that of her predecessor’s indicates that the Coalition will be placing less priority on parliamentary and constitutional reform, but there still remain huge constitutional matters that will be addressed before the end of this parliament.

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11th January 2013

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Scottish Independence: asking the wrong question?

Following last month’s agreement between David Cameron and Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond,  the Scottish Government has now rubber-stamped the SNP’s proposed question for the 2014 referendum on Scottish independence: ‘Do you agree that Scotland should be an independent country?

The proposed question has yet to be approved by the Electoral Commission. The  Commission’s role in determining the intelligibility of proposed referendum questions is, strictly, merely consultative. However it would be at best embarrassing for the SNP to ignore the Commission’s recommendation. 

 Dr Matt Qvortrup, a member of The Constitution Society’s Working party on Scottish Independence and a leading authority on referendums, said last week that in his view the Electoral Commission are unlikely to endorse the proposed question on the grounds that the word ‘agree’ biaised the question towards an affirmative answer.

 Earlier this year a group of academics including Dr Qvortrup proposed an alternative, neutral, phrasing of the question which is broadly supported by the opposition parties: ‘Scotland should become an independent state: I agree/I do not agree

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