Professor Adam Tomkins – A Visionary or a Plonker? – The Scottish Jury Is Still out – But a Verdict is expected Very Soon (Part 3)

 

 

 

 

2 March 2015 – Prof Tomkins close links with Jewish society brings unwelcome results

The Palestine Alliance, formed by the Association of Palestinian Communities in Scotland and a number of Palestine solidarity groups, has called on Glasgow University to halt plans to develop links with an Israeli University. Collaboration between the universities is believed to be behind a planned visit to Glasgow University by the Israeli Ambassador to Britain, Daniel Taub, on 2 March 2015.

The plans to link Glasgow University with the Hebrew University in Jerusalem have long been promoted by Professor Adam Tomkins of the university’s law faculty. Tomkins, a prominent no campaigner who served as one of the Tory Party nominees on the Smith Commission, was the recipient of a prestigious scholarship prize from the Hebrew University in 2011 following a period as a visiting professor the previous year. He is reported as saying that the prize would facilitate the next stage of what he hoped would be “a lifelong series of collaborations with colleagues at the Hebrew University. If, as a result, links between Glasgow Law School and legal scholars in Israel are strengthened, this will be an added bonus.”

Dr Essam Hijjawi of the Palestine Alliance, and chair of the Association of Palestinian Communities in Scotland said “Far from being a seat of learning the Hebrew University of Jerusalem has shown itself to be a discriminatory body, denying equal treatment to Arab Palestinians who are citizens of Israel; failing to provide teaching services to the local Palestinian population in Jerusalem whilst providing such services to Jewish groups and has part of its campus is built land stolen from Palestinians and now housing illegal settlements. “Glasgow is home to Palestinians who have been denied the right to live in their home city of Jerusalem and cannot access education at the Hebrew University.

http://www.thefreelibrary.com/Israeli+Ambassador+to+Face+Protests+at+Glasgow+University.-a0403795918

http://glasgowguardian.co.uk/2015/03/02/university-denies-protesters-claims-that-israeli-ambassador-is-here-formalise-links-with-hebrew-university/

 

 
24 March 2015 – Professor Adam Tomkins comments on Salmond’s threat to install the labour party in Downing Street

Alex Salmond pledged to lock David Cameron out of Downing Street by saying he would be “voting down” any Conservative minority government using provisions in the Fixed-Term Parliaments Act that would allow Labour to try to form a government.

Professor Adam Tomkins, an expert on constitutional law at the University of Glasgow and a Tory delegate to the Smith commission on extra powers for Scotland, said Salmond’s gambit was “designed to anger the English. He is being very clever. He is modelling the strategy on moves by Charles Stewart Parnell, Irish nationalist leader whose Irish Parliamentary Party used disruptive tactics and filibustering in the Commons in the 1880s to anger British politicians.

He wants the English to give him what he wants, with his fun and games, just to get the English to say bugger off. The threat for us Scottish unionists is that the English aren’t ready for this and the English will overreact in the way that Salmond calculates. He’s going to carry on doing this for as long as he possibly can.” http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2015/mar/24/conservatives-slam-salmond-deeply-sinister-threat-miliband

 

 

 

 

12 May 2015 – Scotland ‘will not consent’ to Tory plans to scrap Human Rights Act

The Scottish government has said that it will withhold legislative consent on the Conservative proposals to scrap the 1998 Human Rights Act, as it emerged that the SNP has already had informal discussions with Tory backbenchers who oppose the move. The social justice secretary, Alex Neil, told the Holyrood chamber on Tuesday afternoon:  “The Scottish government’s position is that implementation of the Conservative government’s proposals would require legislative consent and that this parliament should make clear that such consent will not be given.”

Tory plans to repeal the act and replace it with a UK bill of rights could lead to a “complete standoff” between Westminster and Holyrood, according to a Scottish government source. A senior SNP source confirmed that the party had been in contact with potential Conservative backbench with a view to bolstering cross-party opposition to the move.

http://www.theguardian.com/law/2015/may/12/scottish-government-human-rights-act-conservatives

Comment: sanz1820

Tompkins is being disingenuous in his assumption that the UK is somehow a family of nations. It is not – it is a completely unbalanced polity where the dominant nation – England – is ten times the size of all the others. Thus the claim that ‘England is not a state’ may be accurate from a constitutional lawyer’s perspective, but ignores the truth that the English do indeed think of themselves as living in a state – one which is variously called ‘England’ or Britain’, the two terms being seen as interchangeable.

The result of this lack of balance within the ‘family’ is the cultural hegemony which manifests itself in ways which probably seem trivial to the good Professor, but which –repeated day after day and year after year – are profoundly dispiriting and ultimately enfeebling.

Whether it’s shipping in southern journalists to BBC Scotland to cover the referendum, employing that ludicrous weather map on BBC TV which makes Skye look half the size of the Isle of Wight, claiming that there exists something called ‘received pronunciation’ which by definition denigrates those of us who speak in our own nation’s voice – I could go on all day.  Sorry Prof – but this is a dysfunctional family, and I want out.

http://derekbateman.co.uk/2014/08/04/write-of-reply/

 

 

 
25 May 2015 – Appointment of Scottish Tory Party Chair Richard Keen QC to the post of Advocate General for Scotland signals Tory backtrack on powers

His appointment follows yesterday’s publication of the Scotland Bill – which falls far short of implementing the Smith Commission recommendations. Previously, Richard Keen stated  “I don’t think it’s the answer just to say ‘more powers’” and has also argued that the rest of the UK should be consulted on what powers should be transferred.  In February last year, Richard Keen said: “I don’t think it’s the answer just to say ‘more powers’. What is the answer to the devolved settlement is to ensure that the powers that Holyrood has are used properly and there is accountability.”

He also stated that any future transfer of powers to Holyrood must involve the rest of the UK, particularly if that involved a federal solution. “I’m not saying no to federalism, because if that’s what the majority want by way of a devolved settlement, that’s what we’ll have,” he said. “But if you want to go that far then you have to consult everybody in the UK, because it affects everybody.”

Richard Keen QC

 
Earlier in the week, Professor Adam Tomkins, who was appointed as an advisor to Scottish Secretary David Mundell, made fun of the fact that the current devolution settlement results in the Scottish Government having to mitigate swingeing cuts made by the UK Government as part of their austerity regime.

See his Twitter exchange with Ian Smart,  a prominent Labour supporter:

* Adam Tomkins: Key test of new Scotland Bill will be whether the welfare clauses deliver Smith. This was where January’s draft clauses fell short.

* Ian Smart?: Indeed. Let’s allow the virtuous Scottish Government to restore the benefits of those sanctioned by the evil UK government

* Adam Tomkins: Exactly. Money where mouth is. https://twitter.com/ianssmart/status/603680320739737600

http://snp.org/media-centre/news/2015/may/keen-appointment-signals-tory-backtrack-powers

 

Ian Smart Labour friend of  Prof. Adam Tomkins

 

Adam Tomkins

 

 
Earlier this month, the Tories ennobled then appointed Andrew Dunlop – the architect of the hated Poll Tax – to the position of Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Scotland. Poll tax peer ‘scandal’

Responding to the ennoblement of Andrew Dunlop, and his appointment as the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Scotland, the Leader of the SNP Westminster Group Angus Robertson MP said: “This appointment is a scandal. If one thing demonstrates how out of touch the Tories are, it’s the appointment as a government minister for Scotland of an unelected Lord who played a leading role in the imposition of the hated Poll Tax on Scotland. It is hard to believe that following the worst Tory result in a General Election in Scotland since universal sufferage that they could have fallen further in people’s estimation, but they just have with this appalling and anti-democratic appointment. It’s further evidence of the need for a strong Scottish voice at Westminster to hold the Tories to account, that only SNP MPs can provide.” http://www.snp.org/media-centre/news/2015/may/poll-tax-peer-scandal

 

Dunlop & Cameron

 

 

 

Questions over Cameron’s new independence adviser’s link to poll tax

David Cameron’s right hand man in the fight to save the Union was last night under pressure to explain his role in bringing the hated Poll Tax to Scotland.  Dunlop, who graduated in economics from Glasgow University before moving south, was a special adviser to former Defence Secretary George Younger. By 1988, he had graduated to Mrs Thatcher’s inner circle as one of the seven members of her “policy unit”, specialising in defence, employment, tax reform and Scotland. In that capacity, he must have played a key role in the discussions over the introduction of the hated Poll Tax in Scotland in 1989 – a year earlier than the rest of Britain. After leaving No 10 Downing Street, Dunlop became the managing director of top lobbying firm Politics International. http://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/308827/Questions-over-Cameron-s-new-independence-adviser-s-link-to-poll-tax

 

 

Tories used Scotland for poll tax experiment

Secret files released under the 30 year rule have confirmed that senior Tories plotted to “experiment” on Scotland by introducing the Poll Tax. Oliver Letwin – who was then part of Margaret Thatcher’s Policy Unit – wrote a letter in which he suggested using Scotland as an “experiment”, to avoid accusations of “being rash” by proposing it for England and Wales at the same time. The letter concludes “we therefore recommend that, if you are not willing to move to a pure residence charge in England and Wales immediately, you should introduce a mixture of taxes but should rather use the Scots as a trailblazer for the real thing.” Meanwhile his colleague David Willetts – who was part of the same Policy Unit – wrote a memo stating “Scotland and Northern Ireland have their snouts well and truly in the public expenditure trough. The challenge is to find a politically acceptable way of putting them on the same diet as the English.” http://www.snp.org/media-centre/news/2014/dec/filestories-used-scotland-poll-tax-experiment

 

David Willets MP

 

 
20 May 2015 – Study by Bingham Centre for the Rule of Law says UK has reached constitutional crossroads and needs major changes to work effectively

There should be English votes for English laws, according to the study report, whose authors include Prof Sir Jeffrey Jowell QC, the centre director; the historian Prof Linda Colley; Prof Adam Tomkins, professor of public law at Glasgow University; and Prof Tony Travers, director of British government at the London School of Economics. “The United Kingdom has reached a constitutional crossroads and needs major changes to work effectively,” the report says. “The piecemeal development of devolution means that the overall constitutional fabric of the UK has been weakened. “The process should start with a new charter of the union to provide the framework for a fair and durable settlement between the four nations [England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland].”

Further transfer of powers to the Scottish parliament at Holyrood could endanger relationships, the report points out. The SNP’s preferred “extreme form of devolution would seem not designed to preserve the union with the rest of the United Kingdom but to break it” it says. The report, entitled A Constitutional Crossroads: Ways Forward for the United Kingdom, also warns that a constitutional clash between Westminster and the Scottish parliament could be triggered by plans to replace the Human Rights Act with a UK bill of rights.

A refusal by the Scottish parliament to pass a motion of consent could establish different human rights regimes in different parts of the UK, it suggests. “There is a growing sense of unease that the union is at risk of becoming unstuck,” the study notes. “A new settlement is urgent because the present lack of clarity conveys an impression of instability, which can harm our dealings with the outside world.”

http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2015/may/20/urgent-action-needed-to-preserve-united-kingdom-thinktank-says

 

Professor Sir Jeffrey Jowell KCMG QC, the founding Director of the Bingham Centre for the Rule of Law,

 
20 May 2015 – Second independence referendum should not be held for at least 15 years, according to a group of devolution experts.

The academics also warned that the SNP’s call for ‘devo max’, or full fiscal autonomy, would break up the Union, in a new report published today. Called A Constitutional  Crossroads: Ways Forward for the United Kingdom it calls for the abolition of the Barnett formula, which helps to calculate the block grant to Scotland, because it does not offer a fair solution across the UK. The group also recommend a new ‘charter of the Union’ to protect the UK, English votes for English laws at Westminster and greater decentralisation within England.

Last night the SNP said that a second referendum on independence would be a matter for future Holyrood elections and the Scottish people. Last week SNP sources suggested that Scottish ministers did not need David Cameron’s permission to hold another vote. Technically, the legal right to stage a referendum lies with Westminster. In recent days the Prime Minister outlined his opposition to another vote. But First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said he has no right to rule one out.

The report, compiled by experts including Professor John Kay, a former adviser to Alex Salmond, Prof Sir Jeffrey Jowell, director of the Bingham Centre for the Rule of Law, Prof Linda Colley, from Princeton University, Prof Adam Tomkins, from Glasgow University, Prof Tony Travers, from the London School of Economics and devolution expert Alan Trench, suggests a Scottish independence referendum be held “no more than once in a generation…. (and) a generation should be considered at least 15 years.”

SNP Justice and Home Affairs spokesman Joanna Cherry said: “Westminster needs to deliver the additional powers which Scotland has been promised – and the recent election result is a huge mandate for further powers beyond those recommended by the Smith Commission. “In terms of a second independence referendum, that is a matter for future Holyrood elections, and whether or not there will be one is ultimately a matter for the people of Scotland.”

http://www.eveningtimes.co.uk/news/13308486.Experts_call_for_no_new_independence_referendum_for_15_years/

 

Rule of Law

 

 
25 May 2015 – Smith Commission academic who pushed for more devolved powers is to advise Tories on turning them into law

Professor Adam Tomkins, who negotiated for the Tories alongside peer Annabel Goldie on the cross-party Smith Commission, has been invited to advise the Secretary of State for Scotland on constitutional matters. The unpaid advisory role will see Prof Tomkins provide advice on a range of constitutional matters, with a primary focus on the passage of the Scotland Bill through Parliament and the delivery of new powers for the Scottish Parliament. He is a legal scholar and John Millar Professor of Public Law at the School of Law of the University of Glasgow. Professor Tomkins said: “It is a great privilege to have been asked to support the Secretary of State for Scotland through this crucial period for Scotland. I look forward to working with the minister and his wider team to provide support for the Scotland Bill process.” The Secretary of State for Scotland David Mundell said: “Professor Tomkins brings unparalleled expertise and depth of knowledge to further support the Scotland Office. His advice and insight will be invaluable as we deliver new powers for the Scottish Parliament.” http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/politics/smith-commission-academic-who-pushed-5760869

 

Former Scottish Tory leader Annabel Goldie (right) and Professor Adam Tomkins arrive ahead of the first all party talks at the Smith Commission in EdinburghAdam Tomkins

 

 
7 June 2015 – From Roundhead to Cavalier: how Tory Scottish Secretary’s advisor wanted to axe the Royal family

The Scottish Secretary’s adviser on the constitution has tried to distance himself from his fiery republican past, admitting some of his views on the monarchy were “a bit extreme”.

Professor Adam Tomkins, who became an unpaid adviser to David Mundell last month, had previously railed against “the weirdness of the present generation of Windsors”. Tomkins, the John Millar Professor of Public Law at Glasgow University, also attacked “the degrading rituals of pomp and servility that accompany majesty”, the “sheer unfairness” of an hereditary head of state, and claimed the royals had a “long history of tax avoidance”. He complained that monarchy was “fundamentally incompatible with democracy” because the Queen confers huge power on ministers allowing them to bypass parliament and escape scrutiny. “You’re either a monarchist or you’re a democrat. You can’t be both,” he wrote. “If you want an accountable government you have to choose to abandon the monarchy.”

Tomkins laid bare his feelings in an article in May 2004, in which he listed the “many arguments against monarchy”. Five months later, he spoke at the ‘Declaration of Calton Hill,’ an event staged by the Scottish Socialist Party to rival the Queen’s official opening of the new Holyrood building.

 

 

The Declaration began: “We the undersigned call for an independent Scottish republic”. According to a contemporary report, Tomkins “delivering a damning indictment of the monarchy” and said it was incompatible with democracy. Tomkins also met the artist and author Alasdair Gray at the event, and they went on to co-author a book arguing for a republic called “How we should rule ourselves”. In it, the pair said they were both “of the left” but neither belonged to or endorsed to any party. Tomkins is now an active Conservative.

Gray said he was “sorry” that Tomkins had dropped the republican cause. “I suppose it depends on your degree of prosperity,” he told the Sunday Herald. Tomkins’s past views are sharply at odds with those of his Tory boss in the Scotland Office. In 2013, Mundell said pro-independence republicans were “out of touch… with the people of Scotland” and insisted “the Royal Family are part of the fabric of Scottish life”.

Asked about his republicanism, Tomkins said his interest had been of a “dusty, antiquarian academic” kind and he “didn’t know” if he ever signed the Declaration of Calton Hill. I quite like the pomp and ceremony these days. My republicanism has softened,” he said. Reminded of his written article, he said: “Yes, that sounds like me. That sounds a bit extreme. “It’s the kind of thing I probably would used to have said, but I wouldn’t say that [now]. One of the reasons I don’t worry as much about these things as I did 10 years ago is because many of the legal powers of the Crown have been taken into parliament. The Fixed Terms Parliament Act (FTPA) is a really good example. It used to be the case that the Prime Minister could decide when the next general election was…because they effectively wielded the old prerogative Crown power of dissolution.

“The FTPA rips all that up and it puts that power in the hands of backbenchers. “In the sense of being a parliament man, who thinks parliament should make [key] decisions and not judges or members of the royal family or even ministers, I’m still fully signed up. “But in terms of getting rid of the Queen and having a presidency, I’m probably not signed up to that anymore, because I just don’t see the point. It’s not a priority. It’s not happening.” Former Socialist MSP Colin Fox, who spoke alongside Tomkins at the Declaration of Calton Hill, said: “He’s gone from Cromwell’s side to the Cavaliers. He should be ashamed of giving up on democracy in favour of the divine right of kings and hereditary privileges. Although that does make him pretty much at home in the Tory party.”

http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/13411783.From_Roundhead_to_Cavalier_how_Tory_Scottish_Secretary_s_advisor_wanted_to_axe_the_Royal_family/

 

 

Comment: Lorna Campbell,
Odd, to say the least. Youthful rebellion? Perhaps. The kind of One Nation Britain/UK, where Scotland is North Britain, absolutely depends on its structure for our hierarchical society, with the Royal Family at its apex and the hoi polloi at the base. Adam Tomkins has never shown the slightest sensitivity towards separate Scottish institutions, and his entire thrust of argument vis-a-vis human rights is based wholly on English constitutional principles.

He reminds me constantly of a British nabob during the Raj. His adulation of Magna Carta as, seemingly, the foundation on which all our “British” freedoms rest may explain a little his anti royalty views. Unfortunately, it also goes some way to explaining his determined efforts to keep Scotland within the Union.

 

Adam Tomkins

 

8 June 2015 – Scottish devolution is finally about to come of age.

Our adolescent politics of grievance is at last to mature into grown-up responsibility. This is what the Smith Commission promised and it’s what the new Scotland Bill delivers. No longer will Scottish ministers be able to blame Westminster for tax and spending decisions they claim not to like. The First Minister and her team will have all the powers they need to take action to reverse their effects or to point Scotland in a different direction.

This for two critical reasons.  Firstly, Scottish ministers will have the power to top up any welfare benefit which they consider to be insufficient. They will also have the power to create wholly new welfare benefits. And secondly, they will have the power to raise taxes in Scotland to pay for this additional public spending.

If John Swinney objects to the Chancellor’s cuts, the new Scotland Bill will enable him to do something about it. He can bring a budget of his own to Holyrood, put up taxes for Scottish taxpayers and spend as lavishly as he wants. Finally, we will find out if the SNP’s actions will meet their rhetoric and, if they do, we will find out if Scotland really is any more Nordic in its commitment to social justice than the rest of the UK is.

Will Scots vote for higher taxes? This is a more pressing – and a far more important – question than whether we might have a second independence referendum any time soon. This is what real, adult politics is about – not the gesture politics of nationalism, but the tough, grown-up questions of what public services we want and how do we propose to pay for them.

The Smith Commission and the new Scotland Bill bring these questions home to Scotland. That’s what home rule is and that’s what it’s getting. All of this will change the nature of the political conversation in Scotland. No longer will it be dominated by bleating about the powers it doesn’t have. Instead, it will focus much more sharply on the ways in which the SNP Government are making such a mess of the powers they do have.

The new Scotland Bill is important because it means the SNP can no longer pretend that governing requires no more than finger-pointing and childish blame-game politics. It’s time for Scotland to come of age, for the Nationalists’ bluff to be called and for home rule.

http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/politics/now-vow-adam-tomkins-changes-5844557

 

John Swinney

 

 

Swinney’s rebuttal
8 June 2015 – Now The Vow: John Swinney: The UK Government has failed miserably in implementing the Smith Commission

Delivering the Smith Commission recommendations was the minimum the UK Government had to deliver – and they have failed miserably. Backed by all parties in the Scottish Parliament, the report proposed new, limited powers for Holyrood in areas such as welfare, employment support and income tax.

Published 10 days ago, the Scotland Bill serves Scotland badly and falls well short of fully implementing the Smith proposals. With our existing powers, we have demonstrated we can make a difference for hard-pressed families – through boosting childcare, freezing the council tax, encouraging more employers to pay the living wage and spending more than £100million a year just to mitigate UK welfare cuts.

With new powers, we can make even more of a difference by using additional economic and welfare policies to protect vulnerable households but also to create jobs, boost investment and grow the economy. Yet the Scotland Bill badly lets Scotland down.

It restricts who the Scottish Government would be able to pay certain benefits to. It fails to devolve the full range of employment support services currently delivered by the Department for Work and Pensions. It contains no powers to create new benefits in devolved areas, if we wanted to, having considered how new welfare powers will complement existing devolved services.

It is missing or restricts powers in areas of consumer protection, energy and the Crown Estate. And if that wasn’t bad enough, the proposed Bill gives Westminster a veto over key policies.

That means I or my Scottish Cabinet colleagues would still have to seek the explicit approval of the relevant Secretary of State before implementing new policies – such as scrapping the bedroom tax. By any definition, that isn’t devolution.

That is why the Scotland Bill must be improved. And if it is to have any credibility, it must be changed to implement the Smith Commission recommendations in full. Doing so should not be seen as some kind of concession from David Cameron’s Government. It would only be delivering what they have already signed up to and already promised the people of Scotland.

This week, the Scotland Bill will be debated at Westminster – and the real work begins to get it into shape. If the Westminster parties are not prepared to honour the promises they made to people of Scotland in the days before the referendum, then SNP MPs will seek to amend the Bill to do just that. We want to remove the UK Government’s veto over key decisions, give the Scottish Parliament an explicit power to create new benefits in devolved areas and ensure that the Scottish Parliament cannot be abolished without the consent of the Scottish people.

These basic changes to the Bill will give future Scottish governments the freedom to exercise new powers without interference. But going forward, we regard what is currently being proposed as the floor – not the ceiling. That’s why we’ll also put forward proposals shortly for more powers to be devolved through the Scotland Bill including employment policy, the minimum wage, welfare, business taxes, national insurance and equality policy – the powers we need to create jobs, grow revenues and lift people out of poverty.

http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/scottish-news/now-vow-john-swinney-uk-5844469

 

 

 

 

 

15 June 2015 – UK Government rejects SNP call for full fiscal autonomy

The UK Government has confirmed it is to reject the SNP’s call for full fiscal autonomy, while describing the controversial policy as a “shambles”. David Mundell, the Scottish Secretary, said ministers would not accept an SNP amendment on the issue when the Scotland Bill is debated in the House of Commons on Monday.

Prof Adam Tomkins, a constitutional law expert and adviser to the Scottish Secretary, said that allowing fiscal autonomy would effectively reverse the result of the independence referendum. “What we said last year in the independence referendum was no thanks to independence, and full fiscal autonomy isn’t devolution max, it is independence light,” added Prof Tomkins.

John Swinney, the Deputy First Minister, will call this week for extra powers to give Holyrood further “levers to grow our economy and tackle inequality”. Speaking at the weekend he said: “The Scottish Government believes we should move towards full fiscal autonomy as the best route to fulfil Scotland’s potential. “In the meantime, we are prioritising the transfer of additional powers to incentivise key sectors, raise productivity and attract investment. “Powers over the minimum wage, employment policy and benefits would allow us to build a coherent approach to training, education and support for people out of work or experiencing in-work poverty.”

But Prof Tomkins told the BBC’s Sunday Politics programme it would be irresponsible of the British government to “devolve the national minimum wage, or employers’ national insurance contributions or corporation tax”. He said: “We talked about all of these things around the Smith Commission table and Mr Swinney brought all of these things to the Smith Commission. “We didn’t reject them because of some blind unionist intransigence, we rejected them because they significantly undercut the reason why we have the Union that we voted to stay in last September.” http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/SNP/11674501/UK-Government-rejects-SNP-call-for-full-fiscal-autonomy.html

 

 
17 June 2015 – The BBC is a major problem for Scotland because so many Scots believe it is not impartial.

Well what do you know, we’ve barely had time to recover from the air-raid bombardment that was Project Fear Mk1 when along comes its equally terrifying sibling. Project Fear, you may recall, was what the anti-independence Better Together campaign informally christened its strategy of instilling fear into Scottish voters during the referendum.

Project Fear Mk2 was launched last week and the target of this attack was not independence but its little cousin, Full Fiscal Autonomy. Full Fiscal Autonomy is also known as Devo Max. It is also sometimes technically referred to as Federalism or Home Rule. For those who may not recall, Devo Max/FFA/Federalism/Home Rule was what Scots were promised if they voted No in the independence referendum, as the clip shows. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CKC93MzuILk#t=17)

 

You’ll note that the clip shows senior BBC presenters telling Scots what was on offer in the event of a No vote. It was garbage. None of the three London based parties had any intention of handing over Devo Max or anything like it. But it was presented as though pledged as such by the BBC.

Thus, the SNP entered May’s General Election pledging to hold these three parties to account. Nicola Sturgeon very specifically spelt out what the SNP would pursue on behalf of the Scottish people. In the short term SNP MPs would seek to have the spirit of the Smith Commission honoured. With more austerity looming the SNP would seek to obtain powers initially in the draft report from Smith, but that were subsequently removed after pressure from Labour. The First Minister also made it clear that the SNP would seek a mandate to pursue what Scots were promised prior to the referendum. The SNP group at Westminster would seek Full Fiscal Autonomy.

During the election campaign, there was much debate surrounding this pledge. Unionists appeared across the media warning Scottish voters that a vote for the SNP would mean a loss of £7.6 billion to Scotland. The message from Labour, the Tories and the Lib Dems was hammered home in phone-ins, debates, interviews and news bulletins.

 

 

There was worse though when Ultra-Unionist Professor Adam Tomkins appeared on the Sunday Politics Show in order to provide his views on the SNP’s proposals. Tomkins’ Unionism is of the hard-line variety. The views he expressed on BBC Scotland were not surprising.

But why was he there at all?  Tomkins is an advisor to David Mundell, the sole Tory MP in Scotland. Mundell is also the Secretary of State for Scotland. Mundell has a mandate to represent his local constituents and nothing more. Tomkins doesn’t even have that. Yet here he was making pronouncements on how the UK Government would be responding to the SNP mandate.

During his interview, Tomkins stated that the SNP had not accepted the referendum result. He wasn’t challenged by Gordon Brewer. The irony of his politically bigoted comment was lost on Mundell’s advisor. The SNP is seeking FFA precisely because they have accepted the referendum result. Tomkins and his ilk are in fact refusing to accept the General Election result which saw Scottish voters hand the SNP a whopping mandate.

 

 

In fact it isn’t just Tomkins who wants to ignore the General Election result, the BBC in Scotland seems intent on doing the same. The BBC destroyed its reputation during the referendum. It hasn’t changed in any way shape or form.

On Monday June 15th, Radio Scotland covered the issue of FFA. Quotes from Mundell claiming FFA would mean a £5000 bill for all Scottish people peppered news bulletins. But the Tory MP was nowhere to be seen. He apparently refused to be interviewed. There was no representative from the UK Government whatsoever throughout the broadcasts. However in another quite bizarre clip Tomkins was apparently presented as the voice of the UK Government.

The academic appeared again in another clip just before Deputy First Minister John Swinney was interviewed by Gary Robertson. Robertson adopted a now familiar tone and threw every Unionist argument he could find at Swinney. Not one solitary representative of the UK Government faced any scrutiny at all. Whether Mundell’s deputy at the Scotland Office was asked to appear was never revealed. The coverage of FFA was an all-out attack on the SNP.  http://www.ponsonbypost.com/index.php/comment/29-bbc-scotland-is-continuing-where-it-left-off

 

Bernard Ponsonby

 
18 June 2015 – JK Rowling in Twitter row after questioning claim SNP no longer has ‘anti-English sentiment

Following the general election result – the English-born author, who lives in Edinburgh – spoke out about the abuse she had received after Labour’s crushing defeat. She claimed she was described as “Blairite scum”, a traitor to Scotland and urged to leave the country. She also said that she had SNP friends for whom it was “all about self-determination” and she respected their view, and said she hoped the overwhelming majority of the SNP were not anti-English. However, independence supporters told her to “grow up” and claimed they were tired of her using her influence to “mislead the public”.

Prof Adam Tomkins, an expert on constitutional law and an adviser to David Mundell, the Scottish Secretary, tweeted that as a high profile No voter and an Englishman who had spent 12 years in Scotland he had “experienced no anti-Englishness from SNP”.

Nigel Don, the SNP MSP, said the party counted many people originally from England among its supporters, adding “There is no place for personal abuse of any kind in politics on any side of the debate and the SNP has been crystal clear that such abuse must stop, full stop.” http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/SNP/11684501/JK-Rowling-in-Twitter-row-after-questioning-claim-SNP-no-longer-has-anti-English-sentiment.html

 

 

 

 

 

14 June 2015 – Adam Tomkins on FFA: Sunday Politics Scotland. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5HAgntSmuK4
2 July 2015 – Another imbalanced ‘debate’ – Scotland2015.  Sarah Smith Out of Order. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_20p3F3Jk_U

 

 

 

 

28 August 2015 – Joining us now is North Britain’s most impartial Tory.

Spare a thought today for the media.  It was stretching credulity for them to wheel out Adam “IT’S THE LAW!!!!” Tomkins as an ‘impartial expert’ when he was working for the Tory party.  It was even harder for them to do it when he became a special adviser to the Secretary of State for Scotland.  But can they still pull it off now that he’s planning to stand as a Tory candidate in next year’s Scottish Parliament election?  Rest assured that they’ll give it a go.

Tomkins’ announcement of his intentions comes in possibly his funniest blogpost to date.  He tells the story of how he became a Tory, and it basically consists of : “I offered my services to all the unionist parties, and it was the Tories who wanted me unconditionally, so clearly their instincts are correct.”

http://scotgoespop.blogspot.co.uk/2015/08/joining-us-now-is-north-britain-most.html28 August 2015 – I am seeking election to the Scottish Parliament.

 

ruthconf12ruthconf9

Scottish Conservative Party Conference 2015 – Anyone under 65 awake!!!?

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Professor Adam Tomkins – A Visionary or a Plonker? – The Scottish Jury Is Still out – But a Verdict is expected Very Soon (Part 2)

 

 

 

 

 

25 January 2014 – Opinion on the SNP’s White Paper Professor Adam Tomkins. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dD5iH8YSqiw
30 January 2014 – The hidden costs of independence – Adam Tomkins. https://www.reddit.com/r/Scotland/comments/1wjoin/the_hidden_costs_of_independence_adam_tomkins/

 

 

 

 

2 April 2014 – Reasons to be Cheerful

The mood music in much of the Scottish press is that it’s all doom and gloom for the No campaign, and that “momentum” is building in favour of a Yes vote in September. Some of my Nationalist friends are making the basic political mistake of believing their own propaganda and are beginning to lose their heads. One even wrote to me last weekend suggesting that it was time I self-administered some Hemlock. Such a lovely thought, that even one’s friends wish upon their political opponents the curse of suicide.

Never has it been more important to remember that we Unionists will win this referendum campaign by being the reasonable ones. Let the petty Nationalists trade in poison. The one thing we won’t do is to win the argument by descending to their gutter level. So … time for a cool, hard-headed and clear-eyed analysis of why it is that the media mood has turned up the heat on the No campaign.

There are four reasons for it:

The polls.

The Labour party’s latest proposals for further devolution.

Tensions within the Better Together campaign.

The idiot rogue minister who told the Guardian that there could be a currency union between an independent Scotland and the rest of the UK.

In this post I consider each of these in turn and I show that, on analysis, none is actually bad for the No camp and, moreover, that none will help Yes.   https://notesfromnorthbritain.wordpress.com/2014/04/02/reasons-to-be-cheerful/

 

 

 
1 April 2014 – United Kingdom(s)? Scotland’s Referendum & Britain’s Future (Part 1). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_yXgZtTTTs8&list=PLTJ17sZJveQNiKHEOuHs-1Ewlt4qV0Qv-

United Kingdom(s)? Scotland’s Referendum & Britain’s Future (Part 2). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FtDXT5qcI6E&index=2&list=PLTJ17sZJveQNiKHEOuHs-1Ewlt4qV0Qv-

United Kingdom(s)? Scotland’s Referendum & Britain’s Future (Part 3). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sEzSDQ6GHss&list=PLTJ17sZJveQNiKHEOuHs-1Ewlt4qV0Qv-&index=3

United Kingdom(s)? Scotland’s Referendum & Britain’s Future (Part 4). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MI2BQRcPm90&index=4&list=PLTJ17sZJveQNiKHEOuHs-1Ewlt4qV0Qv-

 

 

 
1 April 2014 – Nicola Sturgeon withdrew from her debate with Adam Tomkins. https://www.reddit.com/r/Scotland/comments/21yra9/it_appears_nicola_sturgeon_has_withdrew_from_her/

2 April 2014 – The Legal Implications of Scottish Independence Professor Adam Tomkins. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GLWc1jKXU4E

7 April 2014 – Scottish Independence: Q&A (Part 1) Tomkins 3.35. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GZYjylpovfQ

7 April 2014 – Scottish Independence: Q&A (Part 2) Tomkins 4.20. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vSTxO9kQgYs

 

 

 

 

14 June 2014 – An independent Scotland would have no claim to a share of the UK’s assets

Professor Adam Tomkins, said a separate Scotland would only keep UK assets located in Scotland. Scotland would have no claim on a share of assets like military bases and embassies outside its territory. He said Scotland would be entitled to a share of all liquid assets, as well as debt.

First Minister Alex Salmond has claimed Scotland would be due an 8.5 per cent share of all UK assets, including the contents of the British Museum. But Professor Tomkins said:  “The UK’s fixed property in Scotland would become the property of the new Scottish state. Conversely, Scotland would have no claim on the UK’s fixed property in the rest of the UK or overseas. International law provides that State property would remain the property of the continuator State (the UK) unless it was located in the territory of the new State (Scotland). The consequence of this is that institutions of the United Kingdom would automatically become institutions of the rest of the United Kingdom in the event of Scottish independence.” The UK Government backed the claims, saying: “A vote to leave the UK is a vote to leave its institutions.”

But a Scottish Government spokesman said: “Scottish taxpayers have contributed to funding all the assets owned by the UK state over many years. It is only fair and reasonable that Scotland should receive a fair share of the value of these assets on independence.” http://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/457842/Breakaway-Scottish-state-could-not-claim-a-cut-of-UK-assets
Comment:  Tomkins quoted:   International law provides that State property would remain the property of the continuator State (the UK) unless it was located in the territory of the new State (Scotland).”

But if the UK splits into its constituent parts then Scotland and England are the result (as the UK is a treaty joining the countries), no treaty, no UK . No Continuator State. At the ending of the treaty England and Scotland, the new countries would be entitled to a fair share of the former UK’s assets.

If Westminster persisted on insisting Scotland had been extinguished when the UK was formed (but England was not), then how could Scotland continue to have its own laws, courts, borders etc? In fact how can there be a border if Scotland is no more?

Will the EU recognize the former UK government as representing the English? They are neither elected nor recognized as such. Or will the non-existent Scotland walk away from any residual debt held by the Bank of England as they are fully entitled to do?

 

 

 
2 June 2014 – Scottish Tory tax plans Marco Biagi and Adam Tomkins. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=waXe_UGiW44

13 June 2014 – Tomkins given hard time by Scottish Parliaments European and External Relations Committee. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R5bfewl6cjw

11 July 2014 – Devolution and an Evolving UK – Professor Adam Tomkins. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LmPAWq3gpV0

 

 

 

 

 

20 July 2014 – Adam Tomkins – I am being forced to choose … would I want to stay in an independent Scotland as a No voter?

It is not difficult to tell which side Adam Tomkins is taking in the independence debate. The professor of public law at Glasgow University is sporting a wristband from the pro-union campaign Vote No Borders, while his office in the university’s law school is adorned with a “No thanks” postcard and large Team GB union flag. On his website he describes himself as one of the leading constitutional law scholars in the UK and he’s certainly one of the leading voices arguing the union’s case on the internet. He does so under his own name on Twitter and in various blogs, and he is the force behind Notes From North Britain, the website which bears the tagline “Confessions of a Justified Unionist”.

That said, the pro-union space on the internet is not exactly crowded. There are no pro-union campaigns on the web to rival those of independence supporters such as Wings over Scotland. Tomkins had 3385 followers on Twitter. Wings Over Scotland had 15,200, and fellow independence supporter Bella Caledonia had 16,300.

Tomkins says he could have decided not to take part in the referendum debate, a decision he describes as perfectly valid. Instead, he declared as a No voter early on in the debate as he did not want to “just be an observer”. “I decided I cared so much about this particular issue I was not going to approach it from the position of independent neutrality,” he explains. “Although I hope I have been objective, fair and accurate in my assessment of the legal issues. “I am not a partisan, in the sense I don’t toe anybody’s line.”

Tomkins has been involved in various aspects of the independence debate, including advising the UK Government on legal issues surrounding independence as part of an informal group of lawyers put together by Advocate General Jim Wallace. He was one of two independent advisers to the Strathclyde Commission – the Conservative review of how Scottish devolution should work – and has written a series of blogs for Vote No Borders tackling topics such as such as the legal and political “realities” of what independence would mean.

But his views on the issue have a personal basis. Tomkins was born in England and spent the first 33 years of his life south of the Border, before moving to Scotland in 2003.”I am English and British, but I live in Scotland,” he said. “My wife is Jewish and American, but lives in Britain as she would see it. My kids have dual US and UK nationality and they are Jewish: so multiple identities feel natural and normal. “For me, that is what the independence referendum is all about – it is forcing me to choose, would I want to stay in an independent Scotland as a no supporter? I really don’t want to have to choose between staying in an independent Scotland and returning to the much diminished rump of the UK.”

His best result for Scotland? A “narrow-ish” win for the No campaign – an outcome he argues would trigger much-needed discussion where devolution should go. He says devolving income tax to the Scottish Parliament would transform politics in the country by triggering a “grown-up” argument about tax and spend. He would like to see unionists and nationalists work together to develop devolution further, arguing there has been a “silo” approach to constitutional politics for too long. “The independence referendum has been divisive – it is necessarily divisive because it is a very emotive issue and because it is a binary question of yes or no – so it is necessarily polarising,” he says. “Once we have moved on from that polarising nature of the referendum, we need to move on to something we have never had – an all-party conversation about where we take Scotland’s constitution next.”

http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/13170868._I_am_being_forced_to_choose___would_I_want_to_stay_in_an_independent_Scotland_as_a_No_voter__/

 

 

 

 

 

24 July 2014 – Public Institutions after Separation – Professor Adam Tomkins. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xBhqTsuEy2k

28 July 2014 – What would happen to the Border? – Professor Adam Tomkins. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2gUKR7tb1PE

 

 

 

2 August 2014 – My Country is Britain

‘For me Scottish independence means putting an international border across my country. My country is Britain.’ And there, ladies and gentlemen, is the definitive statement of Unionism in this whole campaign. It comes, not from a BNP online nutter, but from one of the most esteemed Unionist commentators in the debate, the Professor of Public Law at Glasgow University, Adam Tomkins.

Tomkins was hailed by Angus Macleod, Scottish editor of the Times, as the best brain on the subject when he opined against Holyrood having the powers to stage a referendum. He was chosen as the key adviser on the constitution by Ruth Davidson when she set up her devolution commission. He is adviser to the House of Lords Constitution Committee. He is commentator of choice for the BBC on legal issues surrounding independence.

He is the definitive Unionist, happily domiciled in Scotland and totally committed to the retention of the United Kingdom. He makes his declaration at the very top not of a pro Union production but in the intro to Scotland Yet, a documentary on the referendum story from the Yes perspective featuring many faces from the campaign. http://derekbateman.co.uk/2014/08/02/my-country-is-britain/

 

 

 
8 August 2014 – Scotland and the EU – Professor Adam Tomkins. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=chYmNSfVlWk

25 August 2014 – Experts say No Thanks – Prof Adam Tomkins. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TSqgfvDDyg0

 

 

 

 

19 August 2014 – Crawford Beveridge, Chairman of Scotland’s Fiscal Commission and Council of Economic Advisers says Scotland could refuse to accept any UK debt and comfortably use sterling without a formal deal

Adam Tomkins, a pro-UK constitutional lawyer and adviser to the Tories, said that Sterlingisation would raise significant problems for Scotland’s entry to the European Union, because currency stability is an essential requirement for new member states. He said any doubts about Scotland’s long term currency and its failure to have its own central bank would raise significant questions about its ability to meet the EU’s legal tests for new member states.

“This doesn’t mean that an independent Scotland can’t become a member of the EU; it means that an independent Scotland’s negotiations would be more difficult,” Tomkins said. He claimed that using sterling informally, a policy known as  “sterlingisation”, would require Scotland to have its own financial authorities, use international banks to lend, and to have its own central bank rich enough to bail out Scottish financial institutions in an emergency.

Crawford Beveridge insisted that Scotland had several viable options for its currency, and could refuse to carry forward any of the Bank of England’s debt after independence, if UK ministers vetod a sterling pact after a yes vote. He said the country could comfortably use sterling without a formal deal, or move to set up its own currency as an alternative after independence.

He added that if “politics trumped economics” and the UK rejected a formal sterling pact, an independent Scotland would have the right to pay much less of the UK’s historic debt – or none at all. “There are many other viable options so I’m not that worried about currency, because every other country has one and we’re going to have one too,” Beveridge said, accusing UK ministers of “posturing” over a currency deal.

Fuelling the controversy that Scotland would favour using sterling without a currency union as an alternative “plan B”, Beveridge said sterlingisation could clearly work, as could a new Scottish currency. Pressed during a question and answer session on why the Scottish Fiscal Commission said last year that sterlingisation was only a temporary, transitory option and not a permanent solution, Beveridge agreed that was still the position. “It would be an unwanted transition issue,” he said. “It could last a short period or it could last a long period, I don’t have a specific number of years in my mind.”

http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2014/aug/19/scotland-chief-economics-adviser-renege-uk-debt.

 

 

 

 

 

29 August 2014 – Scotland and the EU

I have no doubt that, were there to be a Yes vote in next month’s referendum, an independent Scotland would accede to membership of the EU. Eventually. But how this would be done, how quickly it could be done, and on what terms it should be done are three of the “known unknowns” of the independence debate. To pretend otherwise – by insisting that there would be a straightforward, smooth and seamless transition – lacks all credibility. What is clear, however, is that were we to vote Yes, we’d inevitably not be a full member state of the European Union by the SNP’s projected independence day in March 2016. An independent Scotland would start life outside the EU; even thereafter Scotland would enjoy EU membership on terms far less beneficial and generous than those enjoyed now by the UK. https://notesfromnorthbritain.wordpress.com/2014/08/29/scotland-and-the-eu/

 

Comment: Tomkins view of Scotland and the EU demeans his status as an expert in contitutional Law. The European view would take precedence.

 

 

 
Comment: – French Minister for European Affairs and British Expert on Constitutional Reform back EU membership of an independent Scotland

The former Chief of Staff of the French Minister for European Affairs, Yves Gounin, argues that the independence of Scotland would not cause their immediate expulsion from the European Union but neither could it result in their automatic inclusion. Gounin states that a political negotiation should be undertaken; it would be “the most realistic” approach, he says. Therefore, according to this study published in the journal Politique Étrangère, “the most reasonable” would be to negotiate independence and the EU membership at the same time; therefore the implementation of EU Treaties would not be interrupted at any moment.

Gounin underlines that there are legal and political arguments to defend that an independent Scotland would not be expelled from the EU. He argues that, according to European jurisdiction, the EU is also a union of citizens. He also discusses the founding principles of the EU (such as freedom and democracy), the obligation to negotiate a Member State’s withdrawal from the EU and the “interior enlargement” concept.

In this study, the French expert in EU affairs analyses the succession of states and their effect on international treaties. He assumes that the United Kingdom would be the “continuing state”, while Scotland would be the “successor state”. However, the United Kingdom has not signed the 1978 Vienna Convention on Succession of States in respect of Treaties.

Gounin concludes that, while Scotland would have to be recognised by the United Nations, he also believes that, regarding the EU, the issue has to be resolved following the EU’s own rules. However, there are no precedents of such case within the EU, since the withdrawal of Greenland from the Union, which continued to be part of Denmark, is not applicable.

The former Chief of Staff of the French Minister for the European Union highlights that EU Treaties do not explicitly deal with the issue of secession within a Member State and the membership status of such part. Therefore, the matter is open to interpretation.

Gounin admits there are arguments to defend the necessity to reapply for membership but he also states they are neither “realistic” nor follow “common sense”. He points out that “Brussels” is traditionally not in favour of “state implosions” and that the European Commission has publicly stated that “if a part of a territory of a Member State is no longer part of this State, the [EU] treaties would no longer be applicable”. However, Gounin states that this legal argument is not absolute, since there are other legal and political arguments to be taken into account.

In this vein, Gounin cites the report drafted by David Edward, who used to be the British Judge within the Court of Justice of the European Union between 1992 and 2004. Edward was rejecting Scotland’s automatic expulsion from the EU and was advising for negotiating independence and EU membership at the same time.

Those negotiations would be held between the referendum day and the day independence would be effective, having more than a year to amend EU Treaties accordingly. The former Chief of Staff of the French Minister for European Affairs is supporting such a way out for both Catalonia and Scotland. “A good will negotiation would be in everybody’s interest”

The French expert firmly rejects the idea of placing Scotland in the accession queue. “Common sense prohibits assimilating Scotland to Moldavia, Montenegro or Turkey regarding their right to (re-)accessing the Union”. Gounin argues that is “not realistic” to imagine the return of border controls, the cancellation of EU fundamental rights for citizens or abandoning the Euro. In this vein, he backs the concept of “interior enlargement”, although he acknowledged that this concept is not defined in the treaties.

However, this idea makes a clear distinction between states that are not part of the EU and therefore might not have their legislation in line with the EU and territories that are currently part of the Union, whose citizens are EU citizens and their laws follow European legislation. In addition, Gouning highlights the legal argument resulting from article 50 of the EU Treaty, which deals with the withdrawal of a Member State from the Union.

The Treaties clearly say that the withdrawal is not automatic and has to be negotiated, specifically regarding the relationship of the State with the EU. Therefore, automatically excluding Scotland, without a negotiation, would be quite problematic regarding Article 50.

A third argument presented by the former Chief of Staff of France’s European Affairs Department refers to “the founding principles of the Union: freedom, democracy, equality and rule of law”. Gounin emphasises that it would be “a paradox for the EU to deny the people of Scotland the right to self-determination or, to be more precise, by linking this right to the automatic expulsion from the Union, [which] decreases its effectiveness to zero”.

On top of this, he points out that by doing so, the EU would in fact be interfering with the Member States’ interior policy, something it wants to avoid. By “vetoing” Scotland’s continuity within the EU, Brussels would completely interfere with the self-determination debate.

Finally, “the strongest argument” to support the continuity of Scotland within the EU is that referring to the link between the Union and its citizens. The Court of Justice of the European Union stated that the EU is “a new” international law entity where “subjects are not only the States but also their people”. This makes the EU a completely different international organisation, since there is a European citizenry.

Gounin points out that this dimension has been strengthened over time by numerous treaties and charters. “Even though the European citizenship is added to the national” one and “it does not replace it”, the French expert argues that Scottish citizens could not have their EU rights taken away without seriously “harming” the case-law issued by the Court of Justice of the European Union and therefore damaging the EU’s legal and democratic principles.

http://www.catalannewsagency.com/politics/item/french-study-backs-eu-membership-of-independent-catalonia-and-scotland

 

 

 

 

3 September 2014 – Scotland might vote no, but the key question is ‘what happens next?’

If there is a Yes vote in September, everything changes. The shock to the rest of the UK will be profound and the asymmetries of the country will be even more pronounced: England would constitute 92 per cent of the rest of the UK instead of its current 85 per cent. If there is a No vote this will mark Scots’ collective recommitment to the Union. But the Union would be foolish to react by breathing a sigh of relief and carrying on as if nothing had happened. The United Kingdom needs a sustainable solution to its territorial constitution: one that works for each of the four nations comprising the state, and one that works for the centre, too.

At the moment we do not even have the institutional architecture through which such a solution may found. We need to build it and we need to set it to work. It should aim at nothing less than a new Act of Union: a framework for the coming generations that will set the nations of the UK at ease with one another. Something extraordinary is happening in Scotland, but it may yet be that its result will be extraordinary for the whole of the United Kingdom. http://www.democraticaudit.com/?p=7774

 

 

 

 

 

13 September 2014 – A shattered union: the final days of the Scottish referendum campaign

“My view is that the Union can be saved once,” Adam Tomkins, John Millar Professor of Public Law at the University of Glasgow and an adviser to the No campaign, said. “If No win narrowly, the British state must reinvigorate itself – and that means more devolution. If circumstances require a second referendum in a parliament or two’s time, (5-10 years) “Yes” will win by a country mile.”

Alex Salmond highlighted in his resignation speech, some of the guarantees made in Brown’s timetable already appear hollow – and if the grassroots activism of the continued “Yes” campaign is to have a role, then one must be to ensure that the British state stands by its promises of meaningful devolution.

Cameron’s greatest fear was that he would go down in history as the man who lost the Union. However, the concessions he’ll have to make to save it may be seen among irritated Tory back benchers (http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/scottish-independence/david-cameron-faces-backbench-pressure-over-english-votes-for-english-laws-following-scottish-referendum-vow-9747266.html) as exactly that – losing the asymmetrical Union they know and cherish.

Time will tell whether they see 45% of Scotland as nearly half of one of the nations in the Union, or merely less than 4% of the UK population as a whole. http://www.newstatesman.com/2014/09/shattered-union-final-days-scottish-referendum-campaign

 

 

 

 

 

14 September 2014 – Legal consequences of Scottish independence, Prof Adam Tomkins. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VqpQclCnb6s
16 September 2014 – Professor Adam Tomkins, University of Glasgow. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CS36FqVn7ek

 

 

 

 

 

17 September 2014 – Adam Tomkins – What Better Together learned too late

I suspect that when the history of the Scottish independence referendum campaign is written neither of the official “designated lead organisations” will come out of it shining. Yes Scotland’s relationship with the Scottish National Party government in Edinburgh has been far too close. Their attempts to make the argument for Yes into a cross-party affair failed.

In the final weeks of the campaign, Yes Scotland disappeared from the airwaves almost entirely, as SNP minister after minister dominated the TV debates (with Patrick Harvie MSP, co-convenor of the Scottish Greens, more or less the only non-SNP Yesser on prominent display). Away from the official Yes Scotland outfit, it is certainly true that the broader Yes movement has been cross-party, but that has had much more to do with the plethora of unofficial grass-roots groups (Women for Independence, National Collective, Common Weal, Bella Caledonia, etc) than it has had to do with the Yes Scotland leader, Blair Jenkins, and his team on Hope Street.

Only 200 metres away, on another of the main arteries in Glasgow city centre, Sauchiehall Street, was the headquarters of Better Together. They had to bear a far greater load than their counterparts in Yes Scotland, for two reasons. First, the government backing them was 400 miles away and led by English Tories. And second, the No side of the argument never produced anything close to the range of grass-roots groups that so galvanised, energised and, indeed, mobilised the campaign for independence. Vote No Borders played its part, as did Working for Scotland and George Galloway’s “Just Say Naw” tour, but their contributions were neither designed nor able to match what was happening on the other side.

There are some things Better Together did brilliantly and some others where, as they say, lessons may be learned. Let’s do the opposite of how the campaign was so often perceived, and start with the positives. First, it should never be overlooked just how unusual a beast in British politics was the Better Together campaign. Even in this era of coalition government in London, can there have been co-operation in peacetime between Conservatives, Labour and Liberal Democrats of the kind we have seen here?

Of course it was sometimes a bit rough. There were disagreements along the way. Yet these occurred as much within the parties as between them. When it was stormy, the calm authority of Alistair Darling anchored the campaign. He may not be the most florid orator, but he had a steady determination and no little steel and, in private, he showed warmth and remarkable generosity. There are few in the No camp more deserving of our admiration than he, whatever the result.

What Better Together did well was to identify the problems with the independence proposals that were put forward by the SNP. Not that this was always very difficult. The No camp’s campaign was about: “What state do you want to live in?” It won that argument hands down. We want to live in a state that keeps the Queen, that keeps the pound, that keeps the UK’s EU membership (opt-outs and all), that stays in Nato and that retains a social union across the whole of Britain.

But the Yes camp wasn’t too bothered if Better Together won all those arguments, because, it turned out, that was not the terrain on which it wanted to fight. For the Yes camp, particularly in the closing weeks, the campaign question was something else entirely: “What kind of Scotland do you want to build, and why do we need to vote Yes in order to build it?”

The nearer polling day drew close, the less the campaign became about statehood and the more it became about policy, from child poverty to social justice, from Gaza to Iraq, and from health service “privatisation” to the bedroom tax and welfare reform. The idea of Yes became a rhetorical vessel into which you could pour all your hopes and aspirations, all your fears and frustrations. What do you want? Vote Yes and you can have it. What’s wrong? Vote Yes and it will go away.

Better Together was slow to see that this was the ground that the Yes campaign found so fertile. Only in the last few weeks of the campaign did it finally realise that we had to do more than explain what was wrong with the other side’s proposals, and that we needed to say something ourselves about the better Scotland we wanted to build, and why we needed to vote No in order to build it. http://www.newstatesman.com/politics/2014/09/what-better-together-learned-too-late

Comment: The letter was published one day before the referendum vote. Clearly Tomkins thought Better Together had lost the argument.

 

 

 

 

 

20 September 2014 – Britain is on borrowed time: the future of Scottish independence

Scotland voted No to independence. In answer to the question, ‘Should Scotland be an independent country?’, 1,617,989 voted Yes (44.7%) and 2,001,926 voted No (55.3%) in a massively impressive turnout of 84.6%: the highest ever anywhere in the UK in post-war times.

The result, and campaign, will be rightly mulled over and analysed for years, but in the fast moving aftermath it is important to lay down some thoughts and calm-headed thinking. Scotland has changed and shifted in how it sees itself and its future, as a political community, society and nation. Crucially, how others in the rest of the UK and internationally see Scotland, has dramatically and permanently moved.

https://www.opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/gerry-hassan/britain-is-on-borrowed-time-future-of-scottish-independence

 

 

 

 

 

10 October 2014 – Strathclyde proposals a ‘floor not a ceiling’

In a letter written by the party’s two nominees – Prof Adam Tomkins and constitution spokeswoman Annabel Goldie MSP – the party sets out a vision for reform rooted in the principles of “responsibility, transparency and accountability”. The letter makes clear the party’s commitment to deliver on pledges made prior to the independence referendum to deliver more power to Holyrood. The party’s clear policy, they add, is to ensure the Scottish Parliament is responsible for setting the rates and bands of personal income tax. A share of VAT should also be assigned to Edinburgh, the letter confirms.

The letter from Prof Adam Tomkins and Scottish Conservative constitution spokeswoman Annabel Goldie MSP states:

“We stand by the recommendations and analysis of the Strathclyde Commission. We regard its recommendations as a starting point for further discussion – as a floor rather than a ceiling. It remains our clear policy that the Scottish Parliament should be responsible for setting the rates and bands of personal income tax for Scottish taxpayers and that a share of VAT receipts should be assigned to the Scottish Parliament.

Any plans for further devolution which undermined the Union would run counter to the clearly expressed, settled and sovereign will of the Scottish people. Further, a new constitutional settlement for the Union must accommodate not only the interests and aspirations of Scots, but also the legitimate interests and aspirations of our fellow citizens in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. It would be mistaken to imagine that further devolution for Scotland is of no consequence to the other nations of the United Kingdom.”

http://conservativefriendsoftheunion.com/2014/10/10/strathclyde-proposals-a-floor-not-a-ceiling/

 

 

 

 

 

 

23 October 2014 – One by one the consequences of a No vote are coming home to roost with extraordinary predictability.

The Smith Commission, pictured in the Scotsman squeezed into what looks like a small glass shed boasts all of the talent of Annabel Goldie and Tavish Scott, alongside the egregious Adam Tomkins who managed to squeeze the most contorted and bizarre nonsense about ‘ethnicity’ into his commentary over the past year. His blog ‘Notes from North Britain’ (sic) of August 29 railed against the idea that Scotland – with 1% of the population and 60% of the oil / 25% of the renewable resource – would be allowed to stay within the EU.

Tomkins, who nobody elected to sit on a commission to decide our constitutional future, wrote on May 26: “I am of the view that political differences between Scotland and her southern neighbour are much exaggerated; that it suits those who seek the break-up of Britain to perpetuate such exaggeration; and that arguments seeking to set Scotland up as if it is some sort of northern cure for English diseases are both deluded and dangerous.”

Today he is proved comprehensively wrong after The Times reports: “The results of academic research suggest that an in/out referendum on EU membership would generate a different result on either side of the border — which the first minister has said could trigger a fresh bid for Scottish independence. http://bellacaledonia.org.uk/2014/10/23/eurotrash/

 

 

 

 

30 November 2014 – Hard talk, hokey cokey and a naked Tory…welcome to Scotland’s future.

In the end it didn’t go down to the wire. One negotiator at last week’s Smith Commission talks offered a wry smile: “The wire was eight o’clock, we walked out of the room at 10 to eight.” But after weeks of bargaining behind closed doors and, frustratingly for the media, with barely a leak about what was going on, the story of what went on is beginning to be told. The SNP were first to break the consensus with John Swinney criticising the package agreed very shortly after putting his name to it. And that has brought forth a tide of niggles, nuggets and naked Annabel Goldie stories as each party jostles to claim credit for what was produced.

It’s worth looking first at whether the Smith Commission proposals are worth claiming credit for. Hogging the headlines are the steps on income tax and welfare. Scotland will get the power to set income tax bands and will collect what’s raised in Scotland. The power to set the tax-free allowance remains with Westminster, though Holyrood can vary it upwards by setting a 0% band which would have the same effect. For all that it looks like a grand gesture handing Scotland control of income tax, there are sceptics.

Professor David Bell of Stirling University and part of the Centre for Constitutional Change explained: “The most likely outcome is Scottish income tax rates will mirror those set at Westminster in the short-term and not move significantly away.” He says a 1p increase in income tax would raise around £400 million. In the grand scheme of things that won’t pay for a lot but it will lose a lot of voters. Professor Bell added: “Politically, it’s become very difficult to change the rate of income tax. It has only reduced over many years. And you have to ask how different the Scottish electorate really is to the rest of the UK. The losers from any tax change make more fuss than the winners.” However, Professor Bell believes the welfare changes are significant. And that part of the agreement was one of the most hotly-contested. The power to create new benefits has been dubbed the “hokey cokey clause” as it was often in the agreement and then back out again.

Smith Commission meeting

 

The Conservative team of Annabel Goldie and constitutional lawyer Adam Tomkins infuriated their fellow commissioners by constantly shifting position, apparently at the behest of Iain Duncan Smith and George Osborne in Westminster. One opponent called them The Grand Old Duke and Duchess of York. As negotiations became increasingly heated in the final days a break was called at one point in order to try and pin down the Conservative position on whether all elements of the new Universal Credit including unemployment benefits were up for discussion. A so-called “coffee break compromise” was drawn up, only for the Conservatives to trash it soon after on the orders of Westminster. But that then left them with little room to manoeuvre when it came to granting Scotland the power to create its own benefits, essentially giving Holyrood the power to create a separate Scottish welfare system as long as they can raise the money to pay for it.

The SNP were apparently fairly cool on the idea. One negotiator sneered: “The nationalists hate the idea there’s a power but no money with it.” Personality politics played a large part in the outcome. Many on the unionist side are poisonous about John Swinney now since he was apparently a pleasure to work with until the agreement was signed then he started slagging it. Tory Professor Tomkins particularly got up the nose of some negotiators with a number lining up to deride him as a hot shot constitutional lawyer but unused to practical politics. One person who was in the room said: “One of his contributions saw the whole room laughing. But we weren’t laughing with Adam.”

http://www.sundaypost.com/news-views/scotland/the-smith-commission-what-really-happened-behind-the-scenes-1.710504

 

English votes for English laws: a Tory power grab dressed up in constitutional jargon

Illustration of rival nationalists by Andrzej Krauze

 

 

Professor Adam Tomkins – A Visionary or a Plonker? – The Scottish Jury Is Still out – But a Verdict is expected Very Soon (Part 1)

Adam Tomkins

 

 

 

About Professor Adam Tomkins

Professor Adam Tomkins is a British legal scholar and John Millar Professor of Public Law at the School of Law of the University of Glasgow. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 2014. He was educated at the University of East Anglia (LL.B.) and the London School of Economics (LL.M.). He taught at the School of Law of King’s College London between 1991 and 2000 and became a fellow at St Catherine’s College, Oxford in 2000, before being elected to the John Millar Chair of Law at Glasgow in 2003. His research interests lie in British, EU and comparative constitutional law.

He has published numerous books in the areas of constitutional, administrative and European Union law, including two, Public Law (2003) and British Government and the Constitution (2007, with Colin Turpin), which are amongst the most widely used by law students in the United Kingdom. He has held visiting appointments at the Universities of Toronto, Queensland, New South Wales and the Australian National University, as well as in several Israeli law schools. He has lectured throughout the world. In 2014 he was a member of the Smith Commission and in the summer of 2009 he was appointed legal adviser to the House of Lords Constitution Committee. He resigned from that position in 2015 in order to become an unpaid constitutional adviser to the Scotland Office in the UK Government.

His political track record persuades the writer that he is a republican who believes in the supremacy of the people over politicans and royalty. Westminster is not therfore the best advert for democracy since it functions solely to meet the needs of the Monarchy, Politicians, business and other lobbying entities over that of the citizens of the country. But needs must and he has tempered his views in recent years advancing the belief that the 1707, “Union of the Crowns” treaty should remain to be the force driving the politics of England and Scotland in the twenty first century and beyond.

His only concession is the qualified support of a limited devolution of powers to England, Scotland, Wales & Northern Ireland. A gifted academic his recent appointment to the post of unpaid advisor to the Scottish Secretary can assist in an enhancement of the performance of the Scottish Secretary, David Mundell. Evidently his recent foray into the jungle that is politics, (taking on a high profile role in support of the Better Together campaign) has triggered a long held desire to actually bring about change he has previously only written of. To achieve the foregoing he joined the Conservative Party in Scotland and will stand for election in a Glasgow constituency. Covering the bases he is also registered as a Conservative Party List member so that he is guaranteed membership of the Scottish Parliament post the 2016 Scottish elections.

He is married to Lauren Apfel. They have 4 children, including one set of twins. Lauren is an American Jew. She was born in New York. Her parents Richard Apfel & Sharon Bickler were married in 1966. They had 3 children. The marriage ended when Lauren was still young. Her father departed the scene to operate his own Media Services Company not far from Florida. Sharon went on to marry Dr CJ Abraham. See: (http://www.scientificadvisory.com/about.html) The combined “new” family increased in size to around 8-9 in total. They reside in Great Neck, New York.

Lauren was a very gifted scholar who graduated from a number of “Top” universities in the USA. She then moved to England attending Oxford University studying the classics, literature and ancient history. It was there she met her future husband, Adam Tomkins. She put a very promising career in journalism on hold so that she would be able to raise her ever increasing family giving them all of her attention. A sacrifice, gleaned from her writing she does not regret. She publishes an excellent magazine for thinking mothers at:

(https://www.facebook.com/brainchildmagazine?pnref=lhc) and a learningsite for children at: (http://www.brainchildmag.com/)

 

 

 

 

2003 – Public Law – Adam Tomkins – Clarendon Press.

The content of “Public Law” is focused quite firmly on the public law of England. It is ambitious within its sphere but his discussion of general principles is illuminating. There is content that is focussed sharply on the distinctions between written and unwritten constitutions, and between legal and political constitutions. Careful consideration of the way those distinctions play out in the English system can help shed light on important debates in Scotland. English public law deals with the dual constitutional conundrums of European integration and far-reaching internal constitutional reform through devolution, revision of the House of Lords, and the like. The fundamental task of English public law at the dawn of the 21st century is to adapt a venerable and largely successful constitutional order to the fundamental challenges of globalization and the modernization of domestic society. http://www.thefreelibrary.com/Public+Law.-a0145882920

 

 

 

 

 
9 October 2004 – Adam Tomkins – Scottish Socialist Party members and other far left groups attend a – Declaration of Independence on Edinburgh’s Calton Hill

On Saturday 9th October Liz (oops, sorry, her maj) officially opened the new £431 million Scottish Parliament building at Holyrood. It was revealed that no one would face criminal charges over the fiasco of overcharging. The Crown Office and the Procurator Fiscal have found no grounds for complaint after a probe into the awarding of contracts for the Holyrood site. It had been claimed that one company, Bovis, was given an unfair advantage when bidding for work on the project.

There was an alternative event just over a mile away atop Edinburgh’s Calton Hill. The Scottish Socialist Party drew up a declaration of independence calling for “an independent Scottish republic built on the principles of liberty, equality, diversity and solidarity.” The declaration of Calton Hill ran from 11am till 1pm and there was a signing ceremony at noon. A crowd of around 500 gathered on a dry, overcast autumn day to hear speakers and entertainers. Constitutional law professor Adam Tompkins of Glasgow University reminded the crowd of the Queen’s previous reluctance to pay tax despite her massive income. He said that the queen had special powers or `prerogatives`, which included being able to appoint anyone she liked as Prime Minister. You cannot sue the monarchy. He said Tony Blair used these special powers to attack Iraq and there would have no Iraq war without the crown. In a democracy it is the people who are sovereign and not the crown! He urged the abolition of the monarchy. “If you want democracy down with the crown!” https://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/regions/scotland/2004/10/298867.html

 

 

 

 

 

August 2007 – Memorandum by Professor Adam Tomkins – Putting the Draft Constitutional Renewal Bill in Context

Perhaps of more concern however, is the fact that there appears to be considerable slimming down of ambition. It was stated that “the Government believes that the executive should draw its powers from the people, through Parliament” But there is nothing in the Draft Bill to write such a principle into constitutional law. It was further stated, of the Government’s prerogative powers to deploy troops and to ratify treaties, that “In a modern 21st century parliamentary democracy, the Government considers that basing these powers on the prerogative is out of date.” Again, while changes of detail are proposed in regard to both powers, it is clear that both are intended to remain firmly based on the prerogative, albeit that the exercise of these prerogative powers will be subject to moderately enhanced parliamentary oversight.

One of the most striking features of the discussions were the citations of history. The proposals explored were explicitly set in the context of the United Kingdom’s ongoing, historical constitutional development. A major theme of that development is the transfer of power from Crown to Parliament. A view expressed was that, “reforms have developed the country from a feudal monarchy where the King’s word is law and only a tiny minority had any real influence, to a representative democracy governed through a sovereign Parliament elected by universal suffrage” As matters stand, however, the transfer is incomplete. Britain’s constitution, even now, is not a full parliamentary or democratic one.

The Crown retains very significant powers. Some continue to be exercised by the Monarchy itself (eg, appointment of the Prime Minister, dissolution of Parliament, and royal assent to legislation) but the bulk of the Crown’s powers are now exercised by the Prime Minister and by other Cabinet Ministers and officials (eg, the making of treaties, the deployment of the Armed Forces, the conduct of diplomacy, the governance of Britain’s overseas territories, the appointment and removal of Ministers, the appointment of peers, the grant of honours, the claiming of public interest immunity, and the granting and revoking of passports, as well as others).

It is clear that, as the Government accepted “when the executive relies on the power of the royal prerogative it is difficult for Parliament to scrutinise and challenge government’s actions”. This is a reflection of the view established by the House of Commons Select Committee on Public Administration, which reported in 2004 that, when exercising the Crown’s prerogative powers, Ministers have “very wide scope to act without parliamentary approval” If, as the Government claims, the country is a “representative democracy governed through a sovereign Parliament” then it follows that current constitutional practice with regard to the royal prerogative is contrary to principle.

The transfer of power from Crown to Parliament must be completed. In a representative democracy governed through a sovereign Parliament such a claim would surely be axiomatic. There would be no reason to regard it as either bold or controversial. The starting principle for executive power should be the same for central government as it already is for local government: namely, that the government may exercise only those powers which are expressly or by necessary implication conferred upon it by statute. If this is sufficient for local government why should it not also be for central government?

The personnel of central government is already drawn from Parliament and once in office the government is of course accountable to Parliament for its policies. Given this, there is no reason not to extend the control by Parliament over the government also to its powers. Thus, Government should possess only those powers which the people, through their elected representatives in Parliament, have expressly or by necessary implication conferred upon it by statute. This, it is respectfully submitted, is the constitutional principle on which the governance of Britain and on which a programme of constitutional renewal should be based.

The “national conversation” initiated by the Scottish Executive in August 2007 has at least the potential to lead to radically more fundamental constitutional reform than any proposal contained in the Draft Constitutional Renewal Bill. Parliamentary scrutiny of the future of the Union is a matter for another day, no doubt. Nonetheless, a sense of perspective is called for. http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/jt200708/jtselect/jtconren/166/8051304.htm

 


Comment: And he argues that Scotland should be content to remain with Westminster????

 

 

 

 

 

26 May 2010 – Protecting Individual Liberty through Constitutional Reform – Getting Rid of the Human Rights Act

Adams Tomkins sought to ground his defence of parliamentary democracy in political theory. “Our Republican Constitution’, Tomkins (2005, Hart Publishing).” In it he seeks to persuade the reader that that a Bill of Rights and a written constitution fail to give effect in the way that parliamentary democracy does. With whom should power ultimately reside? Should the Courts have the power to strike down Acts of Parliament that are incompatible with our fundamental rights or should our elected representatives have the final say on where the balance between liberty and security lies?

Believers in the judicial protection of human rights, would enhance the power of the Courts with a Bill of Rights, along with a written constitution that would, together, confine the doctrine of the sovereignty of Parliament to the dustbin of history. the theoretical work of Tomkins represents a profound challenge to the belief that protection of liberty is best ensured by weakening the power of parliament in relation to the Courts, rather than strengthening the power of Parliament in relation to government.

https://www.opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/daniel-jones/protecting-liberty-through-constitutional-reform-response-to-stuart-weir

 

 
Comment: Tomkins, a constitutional lawyer, was on the Smith Commission, and is currently an advisor to the Secretary of State for Scotland. His selection by the Scottish Conservatives may be due to the Conservatives policy for a UK Bill of Rights. That requires the repeal of the Human Rights Act. Although, the SNP are signatories to the Smith Agreement they say they would withhold legislative consent with regard to the Human Rights Act. I don’t know what the other parties position is, but the Conservatives plans for a UK Bill of Rights and the impact on the Human Rights Act in Scotland could play a big part in next years elections.

 

 

 

 

 

6 May 2011 – British legal scholar Professor Adam Tomkins discusses the country’s constitutional monarchy.

Tomkins is a supporter of Republic (https://republic.org.uk/) – an organisation which calls for the people of Britain to be granted the right to democratically elect their head of state.   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vhVbamFf40E

 

 

 
11 November 2011 – Adam Tomkins: Unionist stooge?

Now it is Adam Tomkins’ turn. The University of Glasgow public law professors argument that under its current powers, Holyrood’s referendum on Scottish independence could be – and they argue, probably successfully – challenged in the courts. Despite the calumny and dismay of the newspaper headlines, Professor Tomkins argument should come as no surprise. The Scotsman invites nationalists not to deride Tomkins as a “Unionist stooge”.

There are a number of very good reasons not to do so, and to engage with the arguments he actually makes. However, I’m left with a general sense that folk are uncertain and unclear about Tomkins is actually arguing, and why. Better to understand his case, I thought it would be handy to generate a lightweight(ish!) account of the potential legal controversy surrounding the independence referendum, and to answer a few of the familiar objections many have raised. http://lallandspeatworrier.blogspot.co.uk/2011/11/adam-tomkins-unionist-stooge.html

 

document

Articles of Union with Scotland, 1707  First 3 pages

 

 

 

21 November 2011 – Scottish Independence Debate – Glasgow University Union celebrates 30 years of world-class debating. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=swWhEBbz5sk&index=12&list=PLB5d97rZOjDabYaN3O3MMLNkJO9p2lIgl

 

document

 

 
11 August 2012 – Constitutional experts in disagreement over whether the Scottish Parliament has the power to hold an independence referendum.

Speaking on Good Morning Scotland Saturday edition two constitutional experts failed to agree on the issue that has enveloped the BBC and the Labour party in a row over bias. Interviewed on the programme by show joint-host Derek Bateman, Adam Tomkins of Glasgow University claimed that the law was clear and insisted that the Scottish Parliament could not hold a referendum without Westminster permission. However, fellow guest Aileen McHarg of Strathclyde University disagreed and said that the debate was a matter of interpretation and it was possible for the referendum to be held by Holyrood.

“The Scottish Parliament was created by the Scotland Act 1998, and the Scotland Act 1998 is the instrument which delivered devolution for Scotland, it created the Scottish parliament and it provides for the powers that the Scottish parliament has.” said Mr Tomkins. He explained that the Scottish Parliament’s legislative power was limited to that which was devolved to it and as the Constitution was a reserved matter, it had no power to hold a referendum on independence. The academic claimed that to attempt to try to take on more powers would be in breach of law and would be liable to end up in court.

However, Mr Tomkins insistence that the debate was clear cut was challenged by Ms McHarg who pointed out that there was a difference between a consultative referendum, which was what the SNP were proposing and would have no power to bind the Westminster parliament and a legally binding referendum which would compel Westminster to act on the result. Arguing that the Scottish Parliament had the power to hold the former, Ms McHarg said: “There is an argument that there is a difference.” She explained that if the Scottish Parliament legislated to hold a referendum then it had first to be determined what the purpose of the legislation was. The academic explained that this was the key in determining legality.

“The argument that Adam and other people are putting forward is that the purpose of a statute to set up a referendum on independence is to end the Union, because the declared intention of the Scottish government is to bring about independence. “But the counter argument is that that’s not the purpose, the purpose is to consult the Scottish people on their views.”

The debate then became heated as Mr Tomkins angrily tried to intervene. In an exchange reminiscent of Tuesday night’s interview with Labour MP Ian Davidson, Derek Bateman asserted that he would conduct the interview and not Mr Tomkins. A clearly irritated Mr Tomkins insisted that this was not about consulting the Scottish people calling it a “myth that’s got to be scotched”. Mr Tomkins claimed that referendums were formal decision making devices which were about making decisions and not about being consulted. “The Scottish parliament does not have the power to make decisions” insisted the academic.

However when pressed on whether the Scottish Parliament had the power to hold a consultative referendum, Mr Tomkins appeared to concede that such a power was within the Scottish government’s competence answering, “I didn’t say it couldn’t consult, I said it does not have the legislative power to pass an act providing for a referendum on Scottish independence.”

Mr Tomkins assertion was again challenged and it was implied that he was confusing legal effect with political effect. Ms McHarg said: “The legal effect of a referendum which could be passed by the Scottish Parliament is quite clearly, purely and simply to ascertain the views of the Scottish people. It has no legal effect beyond that.” The academic explained that the political effect was something quite different, and that it was an important difference.

In short, Westminster are under no legal obligation to act on the result and thus it may or may not have an impact on the Union. Ms McHarg said that key to the debate was to determine what the referendum related to, whether it was to determine the views of the Scottish people or to end the Union.

The exchange between both academics is sure to have implications for both Government’s in that Westminster’s role is not at all clear cut. Speaking on Tuesday evening, Labour MP Ian Davidson made clear the Unionist intention was for London to take control of the referendum and to apply conditions on the ballot that related to the timing and the question posed.

The Scottish Labour MP conceded that the anti-independence parties believed a rushed referendum would ensure a win for the No campaign. In his interview with Isabel Fraser, Mr Davidson said: “we want to have a speedy referendum… We want to have a referendum because we think we’re going to win quite frankly”.

The debate has implications for both the Yes and the No campaigns, in that if Unionists are seen to be trying to wrest control of the referendum it may result in a backlash at the ballot box. The Yes campaign must ensure that any referendum is seen by the public as legitimate and that accusations of uncertainty and possible legal wrangling are removed.

However the Westminster government may already be in a catch 22 situation in that any assertion that the Scottish government’s ballot has no legally binding authority may in fact unwittingly remove any threat of legal challenge – the ballot will then very clearly be consultative. Similarly, should the Westminster government formally acknowledge that they will recognise the result of the ballot then they could be seen to be bestowing a de-facto legality on the referendum.

http://www.newsnet.scot/nns-archive/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=5574:experts-split-on-scottish-parliament-referendum-power&catid=40:referendum&Itemid=112

 

document

 

 

 

8 February 2013 – An independent Scotland can never hope to manage it’s affairs within the SNP’s suggested timescale and to suggest otherwise is just irresponsible, writes Adam Tomkins

In contrast with the SNP’s deliberate obfuscation, we can be clear about what it would mean in legal terms for Scotland to leave the UK. The rest of the UK would continue and, legally, it would continue as the UK. It would need a new name (the United Kingdom of England, Wales and Northern Ireland) and a new flag (there would be no blue on it anymore) but, in international law, it would be the continuing state. Scotland, by contrast, would be a brand new state. The continuing UK would inherit all of the international legal obligations currently in place in respect of the UK, including its EU membership, its UN and NATO memberships, its seat at the Security Council, as well as treaty obligations under 14,000 different instruments of international law. http://www.scotsman.com/news/adam-tomkins-independence-a-road-to-nowhere-1-2779831
An opposing view: SNP timescale for Scotland’s EU membership “tough but realistic”. “http://www.bbc.co.uk/democracylive/scotland-25952472

 

 

 

 

28 March 2013 – Adam Tomkins: A West Lothian Answer?

As the House of Lords Constitution Committee pointed out in its short report (http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld201012/ldselect/ldconst/184/184.pdf) on what was then the Scotland Bill in 2011, while the devolutionary principle of Home Rule has now been accepted, indeed embraced, by all three of the UK’s main political parties, the consequences of devolution for Whitehall and Westminster continue to be unresolved. For Government the key issue that remains open is the funding of devolution and, in particular, the future of the Barnett formula. (http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld200809/ldselect/ldbarnett/139/139.pdf)

For Parliament, the main ongoing tension concerns the age-old West Lothian Question. This week has seen a potentially significant intervention on each of these matters. In a breakthrough speech delivered in Edinburgh on 26 March Ruth Davidson MSP, the leader of the Scottish Tories, said that the “much-derided and little understood” Barnett formula is in its “death throes as it stands”. Well, I’m not sure about that – I detect no appetite either in Government or Opposition for the Barnett formula to be revisited for the time being – although everyone knows that it will have to be looked at one day.  http://www.scottishconstitutionalfutures.org/OpinionandAnalysis/ViewBlogPost/tabid/1767/articleType/ArticleView/articleId/1395/Adam-Tomkins-A-West-Lothian-Answer.aspx

 

 

 

 

29 March 2013 – Policies, not Powers

The McKay Commission has published its answer to the West Lothian Question:
http://www.scottishconstitutionalfutures.org/OpinionandAnalysis/ViewBlogPost/tabid/1767/articleType/ArticleView/articleId/1395/Adam-Tomkins-A-West-Lothian-Answer.aspx).

Ruth Davidson, the leader of the Scottish Tories, has said that her party was on the wrong side of the argument in seeking to resist devolution in 1997-99 and has joined the Lib Dems and Labour in pledging that devolution will continue to grow and develop — and not stand still — after we vote No in 2014. Margaret Curran, Shadow Secretary of State, delivered a speech in which she showed how difficult it still is for Labour simultaneously to oppose both the Tories in Westminster and the Nationalists in Holyrood.

I’m a constitutional lawyer. I don’t mind constitutional nerds, and I count several constitutional anoraks among my friends. But I happily recognise that these are minority pursuits. Most politics — quite rightly — is not concerned with constitutional questions, but with matters of tax and spend, social justice, public services, etc. Arguments about what powers should be devolved to Holyrood and what powers reserved to Westminster may keep us small band of constitutionalistas happy and awake into the night, but most folk would much rather hear their politicians talking about something else — anything else — whether it be the. https://notesfromnorthbritain.wordpress.com/2013/03/29/policies-not-powers/

 

 

 
7 September 2013 – Adam Tomkins – Reasons for backing the Union

Father of four Adam Tomkins, a professor of law at Glasgow University. “I regard my country as Britain. I feel neither English nor Scottish. I was born in England and I lived there for 33 years. I know I am in a minority but I don’t regard myself as English or Scottish,” he says. If Scotland were no longer to be part of the rest of the UK, he adds, “I don’t know if I would feel comfortable staying.” He “totally buys” the core message of the pro-UK campaign that Scotland currently “gets the best of both worlds”. He adds: “I have four young children and when I look at them growing up and then I look at friends in London and see the way of life down there, I thank God I don’t live in London. That’s because things have been devolved.” The way Scotland has evolved since devolution is a success story, not a stepping stone, he argues. http://www.scotsman.com/news/eddie-barnes-reasons-for-backing-the-union-1-3081868

 

 

Comment:

Mr Tomkins is very happy in Scotland. He’s glad he lives here, especially for the sake of his children. Devolution has proved to be beneficial for the people of Scotland. BUT, because the people of Scotland choose self-determination thus choosing to extend devolution to its optimum; Scottish self-determination, he feels that he may not want to live here. This is quite incredible. He enjoys living in Scotland, it benefits him and his children, he believes that limited government has been successful…but feels that he might have to give this all up because our people choose self determination?!  Sir, your “reasons” for voting against Scottish self-determination do not add up, indeed, they are clear examples of muddled thinking probably caused by the Anti-Independence Alliance’s “Project Fear’s” constant dissembling and misinformation.

 

 

 
14 September 2013 – Who owns Scotland? ..Scandal of the hidden rural lords

A Vote for independence could spark a bitter tug-of-war between Scotland and England over ‘shared’ UK property, a leading law expert warned this week. Glasgow University professor Adam Tomkins predicts that under international law, all government buildings, institutions and organisations could be up for grabs. http://www.thescottishsun.co.uk/scotsol/homepage/news/5432768/Who-owns-Scotland-Scandal-of-the-hidden-rural-lords.html

 

SNA09LANDGX3_1910098a

 

 

26 October 2013 – University Links with Israel – the debate – a bonus for whom?

On 4th February 2011, the Jewish Chronicle Online reported that Glasgow University professor Adam Tomkins was the year’s recipient of the Hailsham Scholarship by the British Friends of the Hebrew University for work promoting understanding between Israel and the UK. The previous year he had been a visiting professor at the Jerusalem university, where he ran a course on national security.

It was reported that the Scholarship would facilitate the next stage of what Prof Tomkins hoped would be “a lifelong series of collaborations with colleagues at the Hebrew University”. In addition the comment “If, as a result, links between Glasgow Law School and legal scholars in Israel are strengthened, this will be an added bonus.” was attributed to Prof Tomkins. It should be noted that Prof Tomkins neither confirmed nor denied the statements attributed to him.

 

 

For over two years, Scottish Friends of Palestine questioned the nature of this bonus with Professor Tomkins and the head of the School of Law, Professor Rosa Greaves. We questioned the apparent mandate which Prof Tomkins had to speak on behalf of the School of Law at Glasgow University. While Professor Tomkins was prepared to enter into dialogue, Professor Greaves adopted the mantra of academic freedom and the need to protect free exchange of ideas.

For over two years we supplied information to every single member of the School of Law in relation to the denial of educational opportunity and academic freedom by Israel to the Palestinian under occupation. On this subject the whole University remained mute.

The debate: The question as to why the sacrosanct nature of academic freedom with a state which consistently denies it to others remains unanswered.

Prof Jonathan Rosenhead has been asked to discuss the nature of any bonus for those academics who choose to collaborate with Israel. Why Boycott Israel’s Universities?

Prof Ilan Pappe will argue the case for the academic boycott of Israel. http://www.palestinecampaign.org/events/university-links-israel-bonus/

 

Adam Tomkins addresses Scottish Republican Rally