But one thing that needed a bit more expansion is why we need a written constitution. It would be nice if the UK was offering one, but since they aren't, an independent Scotland is the only way to get one.
It seems a little dry and abstract, not something that you would be aware of every day, but to me it's really important.
Let's look at what government is for at all. Done well, a government is just a mechanism of coordination, so that the things for which there is a broad consensus can be organised by paid experts, and this can all be paid for by collecting taxes (again, at a level that the population consent to, overall).
Here's the thing: we know this can go wrong. There are several failure modes, and so many historical examples of it going wrong (or being constructed on entirely different principles such as absolute monarchy or single-party state that don't even value the consent of the population), that it's only right to ask how we can make this giant, complicated machine less dangerous.
Government of the people, by the people, for the people, right? Yes, but some of the people are dicks all of the time, and all of the people are dicks some of the time. The saving grace is that all of the people are not dicks all of the time. Bad economic ideas, political dogmas, bogeyman scares, ranting demagogues and general self-interest-driven bullshit by corporate butt-lickers have temporary force: a time window during which they can do the most damage, after which they fall gradually to examination of the facts.
The role of the constitution is to preserve a few well-chosen limitations on government power while these childhood illnesses pass, after which hopefully at least one generation of the people get immune to them.
You wouldn't live in a house wired with no circuit breakers, next to a nuclear reactor without control rods, or take a cruise on a ship with no lifeboats. Why the fuck would you want to live in a country with no constitutional protection for free speech and due process?
In my opinion, those are the limitations that we most need to impose on our government. That they cannot silence dissent, or cover up wrongdoing. This is the internet age, in which the truth can chase a lie around the world, catch it, and give it a damn good kicking before breakfast.
The reason we need to make this a constitutional protection rather than a mere law, is that we need to make it take so long to remove the safety measures that people have plenty of time to catch the bastards at it and kick them out.
Looking at how quickly and eagerly the House of Commons passed the "emergency" DRIP bill (which they had had plenty of time to debate if they had wanted to) I saw two things:
- There is no effective opposition party at Westminster. The main opposition party, Labour, voted with the government. This is one basic failure mode of a democracy, where it effectively becomes a one-party state for issues touching on state power itself. Minority parties like the SNP, Plaid Cymru and Green stood against DRIP, along with a very few principled objectors from the other parties, but it wasn't enough.
- If it had required a supermajority of say 75% of MPs and one full term's notice for consultation to amend a constitutional prohibition on mass warrantless surveillance of the population, this would not have happened.