Power to the people!

"For who is able to govern this great people of yours?” 1 Kings 3.9


In an independent Scotland there would no longer be the need for a "National" party. But why have political parties at all? They skew democracy by introducing an extra layer of bureaucracy, influence and loyalty, coming between people, communities and the nation itself. Government by political parties is also resistant to change, achieving only incremental developments, which is fine when everything is going reasonably well but inadequate when major shifts are required.


The current Scottish political system is a blend of first-past-the-post and proportional representation. Its architect(s) no doubt thought they were giving us the best of both worlds, though it could be argued that they have landed us with the opposite: inflated constituencies represented by a constituency MP who is too remote and a list of party MPs who are largely anonymous. What if we divided these constituencies into smaller areas commensurate with the total number of constituency and party MPs? At a stroke the relationship between those holding the levers of power and the people they represent would be so much closer, without expanding the size of parliament so that it becomes unwieldy.


Now what if party loyalties were abolished and the MPs returned by these more numerous and representative constituencies were able to concentrate on the interests of those who had selected them, in a parliament free of the distractions and manipulations of political parties? The first task of the new parliament would be to make key appointments, such as First Minister, Finance Minister and so on. These would form the "Cabinet", whose priority would be to draw up an agenda for its term in office and then recruit the required committees to deliver that agenda from a much wider pool of talent than is possible with governments which are formed by the party which happens to have won most seats.


Scotland faces huge challenges. Yet we possess significant opportunities too. But we need a system of government with the strength, flexibility, appetite and capacity to rise to them. Rather than the divisive and impotent system which is presently failing on so many fronts - education, transport, health, to name but three! - we need one with a fresh vision for Scotland's place in a post-Brexit, post-Covid world in the grip of climate-change, mass migration and social fragmentation. How are we going to create a pluralistic society that is inclusive and works for all? What is the industrial vision which will build the homes we need and the means for researching, developing and delivering the renewable energy, which we are blessed with and for which the planet is crying out? When shall we finally get to grips with land reform, narrow the wealth gap and provide a fair deal for all of our citizens?

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