Scottish nationals have two supra-national citizenships. One is UK citizenship, the second is EU citizenship. In democratic referenda over the past two years, Scots have voted clearly to retain both citizenships.
Unfortunately it is not possible to respect both democratic decisions of the Scottish people, due to a vote by other nationalities. So where you have democratic decisions which cannot both be implemented, which does democracy demand should take precedence?
It is not a simple question. The vote to retain EU citizenship was more recent and carried a much larger majority than the earlier vote. In addition it was made crystal clear during the campaign that it may require the overturning of the earlier vote. So on these grounds I believe the most recent vote must, as an exercise in democracy, have precedence.
In these circumstances the announcement by the First Minister that she is initiating the procedure on a new referendum for Scottish independence from the UK, in order to retain Scottish membership of the EU, is a sensible step.
But I believe there is another step she should take. The democratic conflict of decisions brings about a conflict of interests between the institutions to which Scotland elects national representatives.
To resolve this requires a supplementing of current constitutional arrangements. The First Minister should therefore convene a National Convention consisting of all Scotland’s elected national representatives – its MEPs, MPs and MSPs united in a single democratic body merged on a one member one vote basis.
This body should draw up recommendations for the independence referendum, including on the future constitution, economy including currency, and international alliances of an independent Scotland, and should oversee negotiations with the EU. The next referendum could therefore present voters with a more definite prospectus for what the new Scotland will look like.
The world has changed radically. We must not be afraid to think outside the UK prescribed box in defining Scottish solutions.