Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Brit Nat Tomkins isn't quite the king of the castle

Not for the first time, Professor Adam Tomkins took part in a discussion on Newsnight Scotland last night without having his hard-line anti-independence views sufficiently flagged up by the presenter. (He was described as an "adviser" to Better Together, but really it should have been "anti-independence lawyer", or more realistically "member of the No campaign".) In a characteristically ill-mannered and pompous display, Tomkins evidently thought he was comprehensively wiping the floor with uppity Yes-supporting non-lawyer Andy Myles, and at least one journalist on Twitter appeared to agree with that verdict. But I suspect he significantly over-reached himself at one point.

"And what those negotiations will be about is the distribution, the equitable apportionment as we lawyers call it {pause for self-satisfied micro-smirk}, of the United Kingdom's assets and liabilities. But not the United Kingdom's institutions. The UK would have no greater share of Edinburgh Castle than an independent Scotland would have of the Westminster Parliament or of the Bank of England."

Now wait just a cotton-pickin' minute here. As far as I can see, the sole basis on which an independent Scotland would have a greater claim than the rest of the UK to the state-owned Edinburgh Castle is the building's geographical location. That certainly seems to be the 'common sense' logic that Tomkins was appealing to. Therefore, the only conclusion it is possible to draw is that he was implying that the state-owned Bank of England would exclusively become an institution of the continuing United Kingdom due to the simple fact that it is located in England rather than Scotland. But there is nothing inevitable about a key institution of the state being physically located outside any specific geographical part of that state - and if there is something inevitable about it in the imperially-organised United Kingdom, that's something Tomkins and his ilk ought to be reflecting on at considerable length.

So let's imagine for a moment that we live in a parallel universe where the UK's central bank is located in Scotland rather than London. If the Edinburgh Castle analogy holds true, that means Scotland would inherit both the bank and the currency after independence, and the rest of the UK would (absurdly) be completely frozen out in spite of its supposedly all-important status as the successor state.

And there really is no point in whinging about this surprise development - Adam Tomkins has spoken. THAT'S THE LAW, don't-cha-know.

With that, he devoured the entire logic of his own argument without even noticing.

15 comments:

  1. By that logic, if the Welsh were to go independent, they would get to keep the whole DVLA, right?

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  2. The coldest HibbyApril 1, 2014 at 6:33 AM

    But the Welsh would share Dr Who though. Wouldn't they?
    I gotta learn Welsh Gaelic

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  3. there is no welsh 'gaelic' it's just Welsh hth.

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  4. Tomkins layed out his argument in his blog back in January.

    His argument is based on the idea that an independent Scotland is leaving the UK not dissolving it.

    In other words the rUK gets to keep every UK institution and even the bits of the military in Scotland which have a UK wide function stay with the UK.

    It's an argument the Better Together mob fail to recognise as one which emphasises the fact that Scotland is really part of Greater England not a partner in the UK.


    If the UK simply carries on without Scotland then Scottish identity, culture or even geography have no real part to play in the identity of Britain.

    Simple proof that we're part of someone else's country not a partner in a Union.

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  5. I'm sure Tomkins is a very good lawyer in normal circumstances, but his legal opinion is seriously clouded when it comes to Scottish independence. And I dunno who he thought he was kidding with his "THAT IS THE LAW" mantra, but if things were really that clear-cut, there wouldn't be lawyers saying the opposite to him.

    I dunno, if Newsnicht had put him up against a pro-indy lawyer, would he have gone "I'M THE BESTEST LAWYER, SO EVERYTHING I SAY IS RIGHT AND YOU'RE WRONG"?

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  6. Johann LambingseasonApril 1, 2014 at 11:47 AM

    So according to his logic, Scotland owns all the nukes? So we can put them on eBay after all?

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  7. Is this the April Fool?

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  8. It was kind of him to explain 'equitable apportionment' for us lesser intellects.

    We'd never have worked it out without him.

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  9. "In other words the rUK gets to keep every UK institution and even the bits of the military in Scotland which have a UK wide function stay with the UK."

    If he really does believe that, I'm struggling to understand why he thinks it's so obvious that an independent Scotland would automatically and exclusively take ownership of Edinburgh Castle without any negotiation whatsoever. Part of it is a British Army base, and the rest of it is the property of the devolved Scottish Government - "power devolved is power retained", which means that it's ultimately owned by the state, and the United Kingdom is the state.

    Perhaps an explanation is given in the lengthy blogpost you linked to, but I've had about as much of Tomkins' self-importance as I can stand for this week. As Doug Daniel pointed out, what was so objectionable about putting Tomkins up against a non-lawyer last night was that it allowed him to get away with pretending that his own personal legal opinion was the only game in town, and that his word (quite literally) was law.

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  10. Have a look at his CV on Wiki.

    Educated England, and taught in England before he came up here.

    Nuff said.

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  11. Just another sad racist who thinks that Scots don't exist.

    Why are they not prosecuted in the same way that anybody expressing such a hatred of jews or blacks would be?

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  12. Its not about Geography as it is about ownership. You should read the blog post he wrote in another week.

    BoE, Defense, BBC are all owned by UKGOV. Since they are the successor state, they will inherit most of the former things. What is property of the Scottish Government as well as things owned by scotland in scotland is Scotland's. Thus, the English will not get any stake in the Holyrood building.

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  13. Its not about Geography as it is about ownership. You should read the blog post he wrote in another week.

    BoE, Defense, BBC are all owned by UKGOV. Since they are the successor state, they will inherit most of the former things. What is property of the Scottish Government as well as things owned by scotland in scotland is Scotland's. Thus, the English will not get any stake in the Holyrood building.

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  14. Well, it sounds like the two governments won't have anything left to negotiate after independence - Adam Tomkins will have settled everything for them well in advance. What an extraordinary and wondrous man he is, to be sure. Can he tell us next week's lottery numbers? Oh, and shouldn't he be Secretary-General of the UN by now, or something?

    I presume you're American judging from your spelling of 'defense'? If so, you might not realise this, but nothing 'belongs' to Scotland - we're not a sovereign state-within-a-state like Florida or Texas. According to the UK's chosen legal experts (who presumably Tomkins agrees with) Scotland was legally extinguished in 1707. So how he can claim that matters of ownership are legally clear-cut and will not be subject to negotiation is beyond me.

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