Salmond Wants A Written Constitution

Creating a written constitution for an independent Scotland will help the country move away from a ``profoundly undemocratic'' system at Westminster, First Minister Alex Salmond will say today.

He will outline his plan to give everyone in Scotland a say during a speech in Campbeltown, Argyll, where he is holding a cabinet meeting with his key ministerial team. 

``The process of drawing up a constitution in itself will energise and inspire people,'' he is expected to say. 

``It will provide us with a chance to reflect on the democracy and society we want to live in, the values that we most cherish. 

``Independence offers the opportunity for Scotland to move away from that outdated and profoundly undemocratic Westminster system - one which, for two-thirds of my life, has delivered governments with no popular mandate in Scotland. 

``We will move instead to a more transparent, democratic and effective system of government - a government of the people, by the people and for the people of Scotland.'' 

Mr Salmond is speaking on the same day as Michael Moore, the Scottish Secretary in the UK Government, who is making a speech in Glasgow to defend the union. 

Mr Moore is expected to focus on accusations that the SNP is trying to ``de-risk, deflect and distract'' from what he calls the hard realities of independence. 

The First Minister says he wants to break the political union but retain other ties, such as the European Union, the defence union, the currency union and the union of the crowns. 

``The social union - the ties of family and friendship connecting the people of these islands - will endure, regardless of the choices of governments,'' he will say. 

``An independent Scotland will also retain the monarchy. Her Majesty will remain Queen of Scots, just as she is Queen of 16 other independent nations throughout the Commonwealth. 

``But just because some things stay the same, that doesn't mean that nothing changes. Independence gives us the power to choose - we can choose to renew, recast and improve arrangements which no longer work for us. 

``The United Kingdom calls itself a constitutional monarchy. But it's the only country in the European Union which doesn't have a written constitution. 

``In the entire Commonwealth - even including countries which took their parliamentary system from the United Kingdom - we are the only nation without a written constitution or Constitution Act.'' 

Assuming a Yes vote in the referendum in September next year, Mr Salmond says the devolved Scottish Parliament will set out a constitutional platform for independence. 

One of the most ``exciting'' tasks will be to draft a constitution, he argues. 

``Since no single party or individual has a monopoly on good ideas, all parties and the people of Scotland will be encouraged to contribute to drawing up a constitution,'' he will say. 

``Modern countries use their constitutions to articulate their values, to define who they are. 

``They don't only protect human rights, they enhance liberties and define responsibilities. Scotland's constitution will do the same. 

``It will make clear that it will uphold the values, rights and responsibilities of the people, of the community of the realm of Scotland. By doing so, it will make a real difference to people's lives. 

``In all of this, we will adhere to one fundamental principle. In Scotland, the people are sovereign. Not the government, not the parliament, not even the monarch, but the people. 

``In Ireland, citizen participation is a crucial part of the current convention on the constitution. In Scotland, we have a chance to learn from that example and others.'' 

Mr Salmond is in Campbeltown as part of a regular summer tour held by his cabinet each year. 

The formal meetings are normally held in Mr Salmond's official Edinburgh residence, Bute House. 

Already this summer the cabinet has staged its discussions in Lerwick, Shetland, and Hawick, in the Borders. 

Next week they will meet in Fraserburgh, Aberdeenshire.