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Constitutional authority and the people of Scotland

How many of our politicians understand what "sovereignty of the people of Scotland" means in practice (Letters, January 31 & February 1)?

From comments in the media, not all have an understanding of the democratic rights of the people of Scotland ahead of the independence referendum.

Prior to the recall of Scotland's Parliament all politicians of all political parties agreed that under Scotland's ancient Claim of Right (1689) within our written constitution, uncompromised by the Union Treaty of 1707, "Sovereignty resides with the people".

I am not sure whether all our politicians knew what they were signing up to because they only understood the Westminster notion of political practice. Here was something quite new, the sovereignty of the people as opposed to Westminster's idea of parliamentary sovereignty. Scotland was heading to a government of the people by the people for the people. Popular sovereignty had returned to Scotland. The people of Scotland are the superior constitutional authority, Parliament exists to do the bidding of the people; democratic government, as it was meant to be, here in Scotland.

In practice this means that while the monarch reigns, Parliament legislates for and on behalf of the superior constitutional authority in Scotland: the registered electorate, the people.

While there is growing evidence the people of Scotland are beginning to reconnect with their ancient written constitution and coming to understand what their sovereignty means, some of our politicians, who learned their politics through the Westminster system, remain infected by the virus of Westminster's political osmosis.

Until the political leadership at Holyrood learn the politics of the new democratic freedom of the people of Scotland they are putting Scotland's independent future at risk.

There is a correlation between recent polls showing a decrease in support for a Yes vote and the SNP Government leadership not understanding the new politics of the people in Scotland by, for example, trying to legislate controversial policy issues not in pre-election manifestos. Such policy issues are being preconceived as policy without the sovereign authority of the people being sought. To rectify this situation the Scottish Government should consider promising such policy issues will be dealt with on the far side of a successful Yes vote by putting them to the people of an independent Scotland in a multi-option referendum.

Issues of policy such as the EU, Trident, gay marriage, the monarchy and Nato are fulfilling in practice the right of the sovereign people of Scotland to decide their own nation's future, given that these policy issues were not in political manifestos prior to the recall of the Scottish Parliament.

John J G McGill,

25 Wallace View,

Kilmarnock.

I agree with Iain AD Mann that the Treaty of Union of 1707 did not intend to result in the "incorporation of two nations" (Letters, February 1). Indeed I do not think that outcome would be possible. When I drive over the Border northwards I have always been conscious I am entering my homeland, from within the Union, and I do not need a referendum question to remind me.

Nevertheless I feel in referring to the "ownership of the title UK" his argument is not comprehensive enough to draw, in my mind, a conclusion. Clearly a Yes vote in the independence referendum would only affect our 1707 Treaty, but it would not affect our 1603 Union of the Crowns. Technically the kingdoms per se would remain united and the Union flag would still be a valid emblem of that union of the crowns although its use would be more than likely a ceremonial one only where the crown was involved.

What James VI of Scotland thought and hoped for can be read into what he said to the House of Commons the year of the Union of 1603: "What God hath conjoined let no man separate. I am the husband and the whole isle is my lawful wife; I am the head and it is my body; I am the shepherd and it is my flock. I hope thereafter that no man will think that I, a Christian King under the gospel, should be a polygamist and husband two wives."

Iain Mann does not seem to acknowledge the precedent of the creation of the Irish Free State in 1922 and the Ireland Act 1949.On both occasions the term UK remained intact regardless of a large part of the UK – the new republic of Ireland – leaving it. if Scotland left the politically united Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland they might have to start calling what remained Lesser Britain.

Bill Brown,

46 Breadie Drive,

Milngavie.

What a relief it is to have the wording of the referendum question ("Poll question agreed but voters demand answers", & "Thumbs up for the question", The Herald, January 31).

It does leave us wondering, had the wording been: "Do you agree that Scotland should remain in the United Kingdom?", if there would have been one word of protest from the Unionists on the grounds it would elicit a Yes vote. And would: "Do you agree that the referendum question, as now drafted, is decisive, fair and clear?" be regarded as a valid question with which to ascertain its suitability, or would voters be unduly swayed in its favour?

Never before can Scottish (and UK) politics have been put through such an immature and childish process as we have experienced on this issue. Let's hope for something better from now on.

The prospects are not good, the tribal truth versus the infallible facts will stand in the way.

The remarkable thing is, having been charged with sorting out the clarity of the question, the Electoral Commission failed to define exactly what was intended regarding discussion in advance of the referendum of what would happen in the event of a Yes vote, and more importantly, after a No vote.

The latter cannot be more of the same. Already the politicians are at sixes and sevens.

Douglas R Mayer,

76 Thomson Crescent, Currie, Midlothian.

Iain AD Mann has given us an excellent, but more importantly, logical analysis of the future position of the two countries signatory to the Treaty of Union of 1707 after its demise. There will be two kingdoms, Scotland and England, and the entity known as the United Kingdom will cease to exist.

I find it depressing that the Yes campaign is neglecting to emphasise this correct position and allowing the No campaign to continue to perpetrate the fallacy that England would inherit the name and the position of the United Kingdom.

As Iain Mann rightly comments, people in other countries suffer from a lack of understanding of the constitutional arrangement of the present UK. The Yes campaign seems to be reluctant to educate them in this reality. By doing so, it allows the other side to seize misguided statements made by European politicians and give them prominence they do not deserve.

That is not to say the misconception is confined only to other countries. It is, I am sure, held by many in Scotland and England.

John Scott Roy,

42 Galloway Avenue, Ayr.

Ellen Thomas reports that Tony Blair was "Labour's most successful leader" ("Miliband's blue collar pledge", The Herald, February 1). I disagree. If you are a socialist then Keir Hardie was the most successful in establishing the party. Clement Attlee was the most successful in legislating for a welfare state. Mr Blair abandoned socialism and started the destruction of the welfare state now being completed by the Lib Dem-Tory Coalition.

Bob Holman,

76 Balgonie Road, Glasgow.

My neighbour, who is French but has lived in Scotland for many years, can watch the French news channels on her television. In discussion with her about the latest daft utterances from David Cameron on a European referendum, she told me that in all the surveys in France, about 70% of the French people want the UK to leave the European Union. Be careful what you wish for Mr Cameron, it just might come true.

Sheila Duffy,

3 Hamilton Drive, Glasgow.

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