Scots law, long distinct from the Anglo-Norman legal tradition, would outpace it on human-rights protections, too. The Scottish constitution would explicitly forbid discrimination on the basis of age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage or civil partnership, pregnancy or maternity, race, religion or belief, sex, and/or sexual orientation. To safeguard these rights, the constitution would also enshrine total judicial independence. With few exceptions, U.K. courts cannot strike down laws passed by Parliament.
In some areas of governance, the Scottish constitution would also break new ground. Revenue from the North Sea oil fields would be crucial to Scotland's post-independence economy, but Section 32 of its draft constitution would also prioritize environmental protection:
(1) Every person is entitled to live in a healthy environment.
(2) Accordingly, and in recognition of the importance of the environment to the people of Scotland, the Scottish Government and public authorities must, in carrying out their functions, seek to protect and enhance the quality of the environment.
(3) In particular, they must seek to promote—
(a) the conservation of biodiversity,
(b) measures to tackle climate change.
The Scots would follow Ecuador, the Dominican Republic, and Tunisia in adding the fight against climate change to their nation's supreme law. Another section requires the "safe and expeditious" removal of all nuclear weapons from Scottish territory, imperiling Britain's nuclear deterrent.
The draft constitution suggests important differences in Scottish and British political philosophy. Since a Scottish devolution referendum narrowly failed in 1979—largely because of low voter turnout—the British welfare state has been gradually curtailed, first by Margaret Thatcher's Conservative governments and then by Tony Blair's "New Labour" governments. By contrast, 'Yes' supporters frequently cite Scandinavian social democracies like Norway, which leveraged its oil resources into a vast sovereign-wealth fund and robust welfare state, as models for independent Scotland to follow.
So what can Westminster promise to both save the Union and make it more democratic? One option would be full federalism. When a similar debate raged in 1912 over Ireland's constitutional status and the possibility of independence there, then-MP Winston Churchill proposed a dramatic reform scheme called "Home Rule All Around." Under his proposal, the U.K. would have created 10 regional parliaments to add another level of governance and representation. Three would go to Ireland, Scotland, and Wales to satisfy their desires for home rule. The remaining seven parliaments would go to regions of England, the largest and most populous part of the United Kingdom.
His logic was clear. "The United States has a great many Parliaments," Churchill told a crowd of his constituents in 1912. "Germany has separate kingdoms and principalities with armies woven into a strong federation; and Canada, South Africa, and Australia have found the federal system the only way to reconcile the general interests of the Commonwealth with the special development of each part of it." The United Kingdom is already a multinational country, he reasoned. Why not govern it like one?