The United Kingdom has no written constitution and that puts it very firmly in a global minority.

So it is of little surprise that we sometimes look in on other countries domestic affairs with a degree of bafflement and confusion.

Take Spain and the USA today.

The Spanish constitution was adopted overwhelmingly in 1978 by a referendum of the people.

Those with long enough memories will remember it was a critical step for the country to take after the fascist Franco.

A document designed to protect the people from oppressors.

It’s therefore of little wonder that the Spanish government are so reluctant to see the constitution, which explicitly bans the break-up of Spain, be ignored.

The rule of law must prevail.

Meanwhile the citizens of Catalonia elect a parliament with a nationalist majority, who after being denied the opportunity to have a legitimate referendum, conduct their own.

The result of which sees 43 per cent of public vote 90 per cent in favour of independence. Catalonians then shout that the democratic will of the people must prevail.

In amongst the police brutality and the imprisonment of elected politicians for treachery, we have two fundamental principles of a civilised society clashing with each other.

Democracy and the rule of law with precious little being done to find a resolution.

Meanwhile, across the Atlantic, a very sick and twisted man walks into a Texan church and massacres 26 people with an assault rifle.

It comes just a matter of weeks after another man shot 500 people from the window of a Las Vegas casino.

The political response from one Donald Trump is to assert that guns are not the problem, reiterating his commitment to the second amendment of US Constitution which gives US citizens the right to bear arms.

My point here is this. There comes a time when people have to be brave enough to accept that a constitution designed to protect and progress the interests of citizens becomes a problem in and of itself.

An inhibitor to those very rights being realised.

US Republicans are currently using the US Constitution as the reason to block reforms of gun laws that would see mentally ill people banned from buying weapons.

It’s one of over 100 different measures American legislators have tried to amend gun laws in last five years. Each and every one of them has failed.

Catalonians right to self-determination couldn’t be a more different issue than a Californians right not to be shot by an insane gun wielder – yet in each country a constitution designed to protect their rights is actually infringing upon them.

In Spain, the only possible answer to avoid bloodshed and civil unrest is a surely a legitimate referendum and in the US, the only way to stem the tide of blood on the streets is a repeal of that second amendment.

Surely when a constitution stands in the way of common sense, we can drop the historical romanticism and start doing the right thing by the rights of people.

 

This column first appeared in the Daily Record newspaper on the 7th of November 2017.

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