The Claim of Right
In 1689, an act was passed by the Scottish parliament. It was called the Claim of Right. It set out in statute an ancient right of the people to limit the power of their government and is often referred to as the Scottish Constitution.
If you have heard of the Claim of Right at all (and most haven’t) it may be in its modern context that the people of Scotland have the inalienable right to ‘determine the form of Government best suited to their needs’. But it was, and remains, more than that.
Just because it was passed in 1689 doesn’t mean that it’s some crusty old legislation that has no relevance today and can safely be ignored – although that’s exactly what the Westminster government would like you to do. After all, it’s ignored the Claim of Right since it came into being 315 years ago following the union of Scotland and England.
But the Claim of Right should definitely not be ignored by us. It is a fundamental and crucial condition of the Treaty of Union itself. And it offers us a route out of that union.
Unlike the English Bill of Rights, passed in the same year, which simply transferred the absolute power of the monarch over to the English parliament, the Claim of Right codified the rights of the people of Scotland over their parliament.
Bluntly put, and unlike in England, it affirms the power of the people. In Scotland, Parliament does not reign sovereign; the people do. Think of it this way: the people (the lenders) lend their power to their elected representatives (the borrowers). This is the popular sovereignty of the people.
Should the people wish to challenge the governing power and forfeit its right to govern, we have both the right and the constitutional mechanism to declare it. The mechanism is the Convention of the Estates – the assemblies of the communities.
We have a modern Claim of Right and the means by which to enforce it. We can use it to end the Union. Expect to hear a lot more about the Claim of Right over the coming months.