Sunday, 4 May 2014

Adam Tomkins: Two Positive Cases for the Union?


Professor Tomkins, in his words ‘a Justified Unionist’, writes very well and very persuasively.  If you haven’t read his latest post (long) in which he describes ‘Two Positive Cases’ then please take the time.  At more than 2700 words this is more an essay than a post but, hopefully like me, you will get to the end and be unconvinced by Tomkin’s arguments.

I am not going to review the entire essay, rather I’ll dip in and out.

I’ve been aware of Adam Tomkins for some time but never bothered to get to know ‘him’.  The main reason is that I detect an arrogance in his writing and in his video appearances, although this is a criticism which could be made of many on both sides.  He could be saying, ‘I’m good, I’m bright, I’m right.  I dare you to challenge me.’  Perhaps I’ve got him wrong.  He may be very humble in which case I’ll apologise.

Enough preamble!  Tomkins writes


There is so much in this little snippet.


A Global Force for Good’ 

Not even a ‘?’ at the end.  This stated as fact.  There’ll be no mention of Iraq, Afghanistan, involvement in extraordinary rendition or cyber-snooping or many, many more examples where our actions were not for global good but for our good.


Being at the Helm … ’  [definition: in the position of being in control of something]

of the EU, the UN Security Council, NATO, the G7, the G8 and the G20.

There’s always a risk that those who are very sure of themselves will over-reach.  Whatever the reasons, Tomkins has gone way too far with these words.  The UK has a role within these organisations but ‘at the helm’?  No!

At first sight, Tomkins’ essay appears to be perfectly argued but once small chinks and flaws are seen the essay becomes something very different.  You can decide what it becomes.


Sheltering Behind Our Larger Neighbour

Tomkins has set up a strawman here with a staggeringly arrogant picture.  Does Tomkins believe that all countries which are not part of these organisations are sheltering behind those which are. 

Are there only two positions: at the top table or sheltering?  Tomkins would have us believe this.

Is there only value from being at the top table?  Two paragraphs later Tomkins gives himself away when he writes,

But it is only through such a privileged position [at the top table] in the world that we are able to drive through the changes we want to see

Tomkins takes the testosterone position.  It’s what we want not what is best.  Power, influence are all.  We play with the big boys or we are useless wimps.

Does he not see that this desire for power takes £billions away from our needy to buy a Trident replacement and to fight unnecessary wars.  There’s always money for a war!

But there’s more to ‘sheltering behind our larger neighbour’ than Tomkins lets on.  For years the UK has hidden behind the might of the USA every so often poking our heads out saying, ‘coming to get you’.  This is weakness not strength but the illusion of strength is there and even that might well go when Scotland becomes independent.  Therein lies unionist fear.  But that can’t be acknowledged and so the issue is turned round to tell us how insignificant Scotland would be.

Frankly, I don’t care.  I’d rather live in a country without testosterone positioning, a country with integrity and compassion.


One of the World’s Most Influential and Extraordinary States

My comments here carry on very much from above.  When we deign to proclaim our desire to live in an independent Scotland we are assailed by cries that our nationalism is toxic but when, for example, Tomkins asserts the UK as ‘one of the world’s most influential and extraordinary states’ this nationalism is to be celebrated.


Britain is the Soft Power Superpower of the World

Arrogance reaches new levels as Tomkins continues

Our heritage, culture and language, the strength of our education and culture sectors, our promotion of free speech, parliamentary democracy and the rule of law are unrivalled anywhere in the world.

The arrogance and the narrow-mindedness that can assert this is mind-boggling.

culture and language 
strength of our education and culture sectors
promotion of free speech
parliamentary democracy
rule of law

In all these areas we are unrivalled!  Let them remove their blinkers and see the world as it truly is. 


Finally, Tomkins states,

We’re more prone to beating ourselves up about our mistakes than we are to moments of self-congratulation.

Tomkins has attempted to correct that balance here and he has achieved his aim brilliantly.  His article is a piece of extravagant and arrogant self-congratulation.

Fortunately his success in extravagant and arrogant self-congratulation highlights the chinks and flaws in his case for the union.


Two positive cases for the union?

Adam, you should have added the question mark too.  You succeeded in self-congratulation but failed to make your cases.


  1. Ach it's not arrogant to state a case having said that is what you intend to do.

    He's certainly on the winning side of the argument so far.

    In my opinion (a preface inserted just in case you feel I am arrogantly stating opinion as fact) Salmond has made several crucial mis-steps which are threatening his plan very seriously.

    But I remain available to be convinced.

  2. Line by line:

    (1) I have abs no problem with Tomkins stating his case having said that was what he as going to do. I have no problem even if he hadn't said that was what he was going to do. The arrogance is in his writing and his appearances.

    (2) Yes but the race isn't over

    (3) Preface not required :) but you're right re mis-steps.

    (4) If I bought you a coffee would that help?

  3. It would take more than coffee, or whisky even, to buy my vote, although it may yet be given for free.

  4. Sorry, can't go beyond coffee. Have to hope you decide to give your vote to us.