Britain Is Not A Nation (?!)

Some great responses over on the right in reply to Adam Tomkins and virtually all on the same broad theme of believing him to be deliberately confusing concepts of country and nation and – to put it crudely – making it up about what the UK is and what its supporters actually believe.


I’m grateful to him for responding – he didn’t have to. And also because it is so rare that we get a real live Unionist spelling out in some detail exactly what his country means to him and how Unionism justifies itself. That’s true. It is an unusual event in this long, long debate to have a detailed case spelled out for the Union. Most of its adherents run in the other direction, jeer from the sidelines or produce miniscule soundbites and totally negative opinions of independence. Here at last is something definitive delving deep into the belief system of Unionism. And very revealing it is…

The striking theme for me is how our country –the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland – is whatever its supporters want it to be.

To Adam Tomkins it is not a nation. He is a Unionist but not a Nationalist. So he can love his country but, unlike those with deep feelings for their homeland in every other country on earth, that does not confer the word Nationalist upon him. Does that mean when David Cameron boasts about ‘this proud nation of ours – Britain’ that is not an expression of nationalism, as it would be on any logical definition? When members of the Lords say independence is a betrayal of the memory of those who died fighting for this country – Britain – that also is not an expression of nationalism? When an aircraft carrier is named and there is an outpouring of pride in this symbol of a ‘powerful nation’ – again Britain – it is not nationalism? When the Foreign Secretary talks about British values of democracy and decency in the world, could there not be a clearer statement on British nationalism?

Union jack: hugely symbolic.

If you walked into any street in England and asked voters if they were proud British Unionists or Nationalists, what do you suppose they would answer? I fear the carefully crafted distinction designed to deny the very emotion and credo that made Britain Great reads like sophistry…something that may carry conviction for its author but which would not be understood by the voters. The Victorians who drove the Empire project and built and canals and railways and created the legacy on which so much of Britain’s self-worth is still based, were the most nationalistic, chauvinistic, imperialistic, self-glorifying nation on earth, not because they were Unionist but because they were British. Indeed, they mostly went further and conflated their Englishness with Britishness – a still common failing which contradicts the Professor’s rather airy idea of a Union of Nations.

The people of the UK (possibly exclusion coming up for parts of NI) do not think of themselves or call themselves proud British Unionists, they think of themselves as proud Britons. They are nationalistic about Britain. (I know for some of you we shouldn’t mix up the terms UK and Britain but let’s face it, the people do it all the time).

I also don’t have a ‘fragile identity’ which needs statehood to ‘reinforce’ it. My identity is immutable and constant and it is mine. I am a Scot. I stand with my friends around the globe who declare: I am a Finn. I am German. I am Palestinian. What my belief in Scotland – my Nationalism, if you like – means is that I want to take those powerful feelings for my country and my people and use them to run my country…as all the others do. It isn’t about the Professor’s narrow view of identity – it’s about taking the powers to run our country as we wish and you don’t even have to be Nationalist to want that. My identity extends to European, a condition I fear a diminishing number of British Unionists adhere to. (I think the Professor’s rather shifting national loyalties is deliberate obfuscation on his part. The old Unionist trick is to ‘brand’ Scottish Nationalists as dangerous while campaigning for British Nationalism by pretending it is a superior, more refined species of belief. On this note, it is always a dead giveaway when you read the word ‘separatist’. That’s not an academic’s word but a politician’s and its use concedes that the author is afraid to use the correct terminology because of its inspiring implications. I am content to use self-determination, the term of the United Nations and we shouldn’t forget that the ‘separation’ of which the Unionists speak is a deliberate insult to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.)


Hold on! What’s this…‘I am a Scottish Nationalist, in that I believe that Scotland is a nation. But I am also a Unionist, in that I believe that the best future for Scotland is one in which she maintains her uniquely privileged position within the UK.’ So Adam Tomkins is also a Scottish Nationalist…although not a British Nationalist. I’m afraid that my O Level application of Common Sense would insist that denying your country self government tends to suggest a view somewhat lacking in the normal definition of Nationalism.

This takes us from sophistry to obfuscation. But the killer point is surely the second, that we have a uniquely privileged position. Assuming he doesn’t mean privileged just to be allowed into the UK (having been partner to forming the thing in the first place) but that we have a special deal that benefits us. Well, we certainly do get more powers than the other members but why exactly is that? Because we fought the British state and threatened it until they relented –exactly as the party leaders are doing today in pretending more powers are on offer to buy us off. I’m not sure that’s a bouquet for the benevolence of Union.

But what also goes unsaid is that whatever powers Scotland has now and will have, they are entirely and totally in the gift of Westminster – theirs to give or take away at will. Without entrenchment, powers are charity, gifts of patronage, to be bestowed or withdrawn depending on merit.

I also think the characterization of Yes as seeking a socialist utopia is fatuous. It ignores the serious centre right involvement, the business engagement and betrays a shallow perspective, like me claiming that all No voters are anti-immigrant welfare-slashers.

What Professor Tomkins has done though is to do us a great favour. I always imagine that clever people must know more than I do or have arguments I can’t dispute. This reply exposes how lacking in clear logical thought the No side’s intellectual argument is. Unionism is a many-headed beast that is Scottish Nationalist when it wishes, British Nationalist when appropriate, non-Nationalist by default apparently, ever benign and even successful. Sorry, Professor. I doubt if you’d find many takers either side of the Border who would say Britain right now is successful, except perhaps in covering up the awful accounting that will follow the next General Election.

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28 thoughts on “Britain Is Not A Nation (?!)

  1. I knew holding off in reply to the professor’s odd ramblings in anticipation of Mr Bateman’s incisive riposte would be a wise move. Well said sir.

    I wish I could bring you to the pub with me every weekend, arguments would be so much less frustrating.

  2. Top marks to you, Derek.
    I have to say the professor failed………48%…… and that high mark awarded only because he had the courage to make a valiant stab at the subject.

    Comment: Must try harder.

  3. Well who knew? I’m a Scottish Nationalist. 😀

    Yeah, the average unionist does have some difficulty in explaining just what the difference is between good and bad nationalism. They’re not short on darkly hinting that Scottish Nationalism is somehow deeply wrong, dark and sinister with more than a hint of ethnic cleansing, Balkanisation or outright Nazism inferred. Yet have a Jubilee or an Olympics and feel free to break out ‘national’ pride along with the flags and bunting.

    I’m a Scottish nationalist and I simply want an accountable parliament that reflects the will and needs of the Scottish electorate, of all the peoples of Scotland regardless of point of origin, gender, race or religion. A government answerable to the people.

    Not rocket science really. The day the last food bank closes and we see a government that puts babies before bombs, that’s when I’ll consider it job done and that’s my nationalism.

  4. The professor obviously lives in the fantasy land dubbed Ukania by the great Tom Nairn. It is almost the definition of a Britnat to be one who denies they are a nationalist whilst maintaining an air of patronising superiority to all those who are not like themselves. It is the conflict between such delusions and the reality of the current UK which has given rise to UKIP in much of England.

  5. The nation he so loves makes it impossible for Scotland to have an independent voice in the world. Everything that happens outside Scotland is done in Scotlands name by London and by default England. No proper nation relies upon another nation to decide how far,how high,how long that country can go in making decisions about its future.

  6. The professor tied himself up in knots. 2/10 – only because he made a sort of attempt to explain his “reasoning”.

  7. Yes, all nationalism at heart is a question of identification. Professor Tomkins’ declaration is just about his identity with a system. Of course he identifies with a system in which he has been successful and it is basically what the United Kingdom is. He values that system for what it delivers for him personally. If he were honest, he would say that, but instead he, like other Unionist apologists, dresses it up in flags and ephemera and “feelings” of pretended solidarity.

    All that his side of the argument can offer us as rationale for their strong support of this establishment is to pretend that we all share in some way in the benefits of this system which is why they fall back on emotional obfuscation, since it is apparent that it is neither an equal union or a system which delivers equality.

    Tomkins’ opinions are that of an establishment which flatters to deceive. In every foreign war recruiting sergeants for the establishment call on every one to be mindful of loyalty to flag and crown and that ” we are all in this together”. What they demand is ragged-trousered philanthropy, homage to a system which pays ordinary people no attention until they are required as voting or cannon fodder to offer up whatever is necessary to keep the people of the establishment safe and in the style to which they are accustomed.

    There is nothing new in what he has to say, which is why he and people like Simon Schama come over sounding just like Victorian sentimentalists, waxing lyrical about a system which has served them well. They peddled the same sentiments from gentlemen’s clubs in the last days of Empire. Same old self-justifications slightly modified to suit modern tastes and the same old mind-set underneath.

  8. At All Back to Bowie’s on the Edinburgh Festival Fringe at lunchtime today, David Torrance kicked off a discussion of “Britishness”, with the provocative assertion that the SNP had become its principal proponent. Tell that to Professor Tomkins! There were alternative perspectives from James Robertson, Isobel Lindsay, Neal Ascherson and Andrew Tickell.

    Perhaps David was talking about what are sometimes referred to as traditional British values, but I think he was right to challenge the suggestion that our notion of Britishness in the post-War period was entirely bound up with the Health Service. Other institutions were also important. The only Britishness I ever bought into was that served up by Blue Peter in its Golden Age, when it was produced by the formidable Biddy Baxter. There was always a lot about local events in London, but the programme was conscientious in marking our national days. At that time, the BBC was still sufficiently in touch with its Reithian heritage to be able to present an idea of Britishness with confidence and conviction. By the time Nationwide left our screens in the 1980s the Corporation’s ability to project Britishness convincingly was clearly faltering. With the arrival of John Birt, all hope was lost.

  9. TwoPandasOneTory

    Professor Tomkins is an elitist with delusions of grandeur, bordering on narcissism, he couldn’t fail to reply.
    He is also one of the worst Britnat trolls there is and can often be found on the Guardian website cutting and pasting screeds of useless text, for some obscure reason only he knows.
    I wonder if his superiors and colleagues at Glasgow Uni knows what he does for kicks?

  10. Steve Asaneilean

    Throughout all the posts I read here and on Wings and Bella and WGD I keep coming back to the same issue.
    September 18th is not about Nationalism or the SNP. It’s not about all these faux issues and problems that keep being aired – currency, the NHS, pensions, Trident, or whatever.
    It’s purely and simply about the kind of society we want to live in and the kind of governance we want to have.
    Ultimately the idea that somehow we would be better off being governed, at least in substantial part, by a Parliament in which we have less than 10% of the seats (and, therefore, say) rather than by a parliament in which we have 100% of the say 100% of the time is just nuts.
    Don’t play the NO game of throwing everything into the pot to confuse the issue. Keep it simple as Derek does – “it’s about taking the powers to run our country as we wish”. It’s nothing more and nothing less.

    • Yes, it’s primarily a governance issue, a democratic issue.

      But that is intrinsically bound up with history and identity.

      The very fact that we can argue that Scotland is misgoverned under distant Tory Westminster rule presupposes that Scotland exists in the first place.

      That Scotland exists is a product of history and history (and geography) produces identity.

      So you can’t really separate them.

      But I agree that for most people the issues prompting a Yes vote are practical, not romantic or nostalgic.

      • ‘Yes, it’s primarily a governance issue, a democratic issue.

        But that is intrinsically bound up with history and identity.’

        That may be your choice, but it’s certainly not mine.

        I’m not a nationalist, there’s nothing about my democratic choices that could be described as nationalist, which inevitably are defined by Nazis or the British Empire in our society. Mention Nationalist and these are the two movements that most people will immediately think of.

        I refute that.

        My democratic and peaceful choices, to rid ourselves of nuclear arms, to not get involved in illegal wars, to reduce our military spending, to not preach to the rest of the world as the USA’s handbag carrying little friend – but to take our place in a peaceful society of nations in a co-operative and positive manner have nothing to do with the nationalism we are smeared with everyday by the likes of Tomkins.

        What Scotland offers me is a map – a reference frame if you like, a geographical space in which the people that reside there can come together and have a democratic vote. That’s it.

        No Braveheart, no Flower of Scotland, no tartan shortbread Scottie dugs, just a rational mindset bent on critically examining the current political and social systems we find ourselves governed by.

        That’s what the Independence vote means in rational terms. Anything added to that is just your own superstitious baggage. Deal with it personally, don’t project it onto the rest of the population.

        • Well put.

          It’s not nationalism. It’s not separation. It’s common decency.

          If that had not been abandoned in the rUK Scotland would not be trying to get out.

          • I hear what you guys are saying, but you are missing my point. You say that Scotland offers you a platform but you are not into the Nat stuff. Fine with me. It’s not obligatory.

            All I am saying is that the platform was created by history, and if it wasn’t for the history, there wouldn’t be the platform.

            Is all.

  11. Yes, Birt was the one who made regional news and events only happen at regional level. Thus eroding the sense of Britain as the rainbow, which meant if you were on the periphery in the Celtic fringes, you no longer felt you counted as part of Britain.

    I was at the show today too, Graham.

    As I recollect, the consensus of opinion was that we had not left Britain, but Britain had left us.

    Chris Whatley in his updated 2014 edition of The Scots and the Union: then and Now, concludes that the erosion of British identity and the ties to the idea of Britain have come about since 1945 by the steady dissolution of the pillars on which the Union was built. The largest of which was the British Empire. This was all gone by the 1960s bar a few tiny island groups. Our great industries too, which provided the financial muscle for the Empire.

    Without the Empire there is really nothing in Britain for the Scots. You don’t sacrifice your national sovereignty for a small thing like the privilege of being ruled by Eton educated Tory toffs, but for a large thing, the chance to build a whole new global order. There is nothing in the Union for us now.

    It’s time has past.

  12. Some people in Scotland would like to be ruled by Westminster, and are prepared to look at the question”Do you think Scotland should be an independent country” and answer No?

    If you asked someone in Portugal if they would like to be ruled and have decisions made about their future from Madrid, they’d say No.

    If you asked someone in Pakistan if they would liked to be ruled and have decisions made about their future from New Delhi, they’d say No.

    If you asked people in England do”Do you think England should be an independent country” you’d get a resounding Yes.

  13. Would you rather have a government which holds sessions around the country at which you can ask questions and afterwards chat to government ministers, or one which is ensconced in London, remote and ignorant of our needs? The answer seems so obviously Yes. An ability to watch Eastenders, wave a union jack at the royals and take part in the political snakes and ladders of the Westminster system is a poor substitute for a system under which we can have a loud voice in how our country is run.

  14. “When the Foreign Secretary talks about British values of democracy and decency in the world, could there not be a clearer statement on British nationalism?”

    That bastion of democratic principle, the ‘House of Lords,’ having the cheek to comment on Democracy – all the while carefully avoiding any democratic scrutiny of themselves?

  15. Rosa Alba Macdonald

    I think as with so many terms and positions in this – and other – debates, the words Nationalist, and the concept of Nation have become tainted. It has been a very subversive engagement or when not engagement shouty-match followed by satirising thus far.

    I am not pro-American, nor do I want to fall into a blood and soil camp, but it is a question of “we the people” who “live in and work this land”, In many ways the geographical is both central and arbitrary, but while Scotland could contain Carlisle and Berwick as it has in past times, it does not stretch that far in recent history.

    I am not sure there is a national identity such as I grew up on, far less the one I sing of in Bothy Ballads – that identity was not entirely homogenous from Caithness to Kirkcudbright or from fisher village to mining community anyway. The Scottish Identity is Scots Asian, Scots English, Scots Working Class, Scots Landed Class, Scots Middle Scotlander Bourgeois, Scots immigrant, Scots service industry worker, Scots third sector worker, the Scots academic and overshadow the Burns-lover, the Catholic, the Protestant, the more coalesced identies of the past. We all know the tartan-shortbread identity was a construct born in the Victorian times and to serve tourism post-war.

    Ultimately it will come down to a multiplicity of reasons for voting Yes, and whether more people vote Yes than no. My blog here explains, towards the end, why I – admittedly a utopian and Catholic socialist – vote Yes.

  16. Professor Tomkins’ and, I’m afraid, your own exposition, Derek, are following the Naysayers’ line of obfuscation and emotive slogans. Why? Because that Eurocentric imperialist ideology is an irrelevance whose time was over even before it was consigned to the trenches 100 years ago. So the likes of David Cameron or Andrew Tomkins want to believe that it offers something worthwhile to the 21st century? They have more than a century of evidence telling them otherwise, and just don’t want to believe it. That’s why they cavil.

    It’s entirely practical and reasonable for those of us dwelling in Scotland to decide we’re better off, whether for financial or democratic reasons, running our own affairs.

  17. It’s not a social utopia we want, but social justice. That is simply not possible to achieve in today’s day and age within the UK, but with a bit more faith in ourselves, it is entirely possible to go some way towards achieving that here in Scotland.

    For a long time my identity was a massive confusion. I was born a Northern Irish protestant, but with my father’s family being Scottish. I’ve spent roughly a third of my life in England, a third in Ulster, and for four years as a child, and since 1997, here in Scotland. I’ve never felt British, despite back in Ulster being constantly told I was, and I certainly never did when I lived in England. But since moving back here in 1997, I have come to view myself as Scottish – not ethnically, as on that front I have long accepted that I am a mix of both Irish and Scottish (and very honoured by that), but in a civic sense. Scotland’s aspirations and Scotland’s values are what keep me here, and are why I elected to raise a family here and build a life here. As a ‘blow-in’ I fully subscribe to the idea of being able to take on our challenges for ourselves as a fully restored Scottish nation – I’m just bewildered why so many Scots still can’t see it for themselves.

  18. Cracking read Derek

    I put this one up there with ” Tough Love”

    Elegant and simply put.

    But i have to add some of us feel an emotional tie with Scotland , shortbread , tartan etc. We are human and our emotions rule us, not always logic. I know many that don’t fully understand the ins and outs of the referendum but feel strongly that British is the English way and they want Scotland to go it’s own way. It’s too hard to be logical about the issues most of the time so emotion swings you one way or the next.

    A.Tomkins was very emotional in his response to you , i got the impression he was a “shouty man” trying to hard to get HIS points over and that’s his choice.

    Myself , i want Scotland to govern itself, for the people of Scotland. for a fairer country and for a voice which we do not have at Westminster. I want to keep our NHS free to all in need , Politicians that are answerable to the people who elected them . I want my identity to be Scots not British. I know we can have both , but i have a choice and i choose to be a Scot. (emotional .. I know ) In a country run by Scots for Scots.

    Keep up the great work Derek.

    Love the broadcasts too

    • What a result to find your site, after almost giving up searching through all the negative slanted garbage of the web on Independence Debate,by the blaggards and liars of the NO media circus.Who seem to be on 95% of the reports and comments.

      This is truly great stuff and I’ll just come here now

      Derek, you will be regarded in the the highest esteem for restoring my faith in the restoration of Honesty,Integrity and Saying exactly what needs to be said.

      keep up the good work

  19. Thank you as ever for your eloquent writings.

    As a Scot abroad, the fact that I will not be able to vote in this all important referendum kills me. I live in Japan with my Japanese husband. We definitely want to move back to Scotland in a few years and settle properly with oor bairns! And I am preggers at the moment so I am using my hormones on my keyboard as I hone my debating skills on the Scotsman comments section etc

    I have always felt Scottish, never described myself as anything else, until I moved to Japan. I came here 6 years ago when I taught English for the first few years. So obviously introducing myself and where I came from was something I had to do several times a day, as I would meet new students all the time. I always said I was Scottish, which would often leave people confused. Except some of the older students who would excitedly ask about Nessie, whisky or golf. I was told by my superiors that it was probably better to say I was from the UK, which I was fine with, but always meant me having to draw a map and explain that it is four countries yadda yadda.

    Sometimes I would teach with another teacher is we were teaching large groups of kids. Often the other teacher would be from England. Perfectly lovely and we always had lots of fun together. But what really irritated me was when we were introducing ourselves they would always hold up the Union Jack and say ‘I’m from England’. Cue excited kids screaming ‘Igirisu!’ (Japanese word for the UK which is derived from a bad pronunciation of ‘England’). Then I would step up and say my bit. I always had to hold up the Union Jack as the Saltire wasn’t allowed as it wasn’t an official flag. Fair enough. But very confusing when describing a simple thing as where I come from, when my official flag is misrepresented in such a way. I tried different things, saying ‘I’m from the UK’. Cue confused little Japanese kids. or ‘I’m from Britain’. Again confused kids. ‘I’m from Scotland’…………………………

    I got really frustrated as it was so embarassing every time. I was often the only teacher who had trouble identifying themselves. I even spoke to the English teacher and explained the difficulties I was having, and could they possibly work with me and we would both say the UK. To save confusion, but also it was a good time to teach the kids the accurate name of the country afterall. And they did try but in their excitement would often forget, and I don’t blame them. But that sort of thing, which doesn’t seem like much, really does a lot to affect your sense of nationality and your confidence in it. Especially being in Japan, where they have a very strong sense of national identity. Of course there are some regional differences and people tease each other for their different stereotypes, but nevertheless there is a strong sense of nationhood and a certain dignity and pride that goes along with that. That was something that I really became to realise that I was quite jealous of my husband actually. That he could be so proud of his great nation, and yet my identity was so mixed up and somewhat something to be a bit embarrased about.

    I tried to connect with other Scottish people here as I was feeling so homesick and wanted to find others who felt the same way. I even went to a Burns night ceilidh organised by the Scottish Society here in collaboration with the UK embassy, hoping to get a bit of a sense of home. How wrong I was! The society is run my Canadian and American Scots who are more bloody Scottish than a ginger haggis wearing a kilt, drunk on a bottle of buckie. You know, really cringeworthy with terrible Scottish accents talking about ‘the old country’ etc. They know all about their heritage and they are god darn proud to be Scottish. Good for them. But if they behaved that way IN Scotland they would get a stookie on the heid for being such a bam. This all just really got to me as this was quite a high profile event, which is not run by any Scots who had lived in the country for any length of time to actually know what modern Scotland is actually like. And yet this is Scottish culture presented to Japan as this really twee, over-the-top, and weirdly almost snobby way. Its so hard to describe how awfully cringey it was.

    I am sorry for my rambling but this is all about identity for me. Its nothing to do with ethnicity, but just my country where I grew up. We are not properly represented around the world. And it is so heartbreaking, because we are a great nation filled with fantastic people who have either been born here or have come to make their home here. We are a hard working, humble, friendly and inventive, creative people. I would really love Scotland to become independent so we could show that aspect, the TRUE aspect, of ourselves to the world, and reclaim our identity once again.

  20. The chief deficiency in the Professor’s argument lies in the failure to acknowledge any linkage between self-determination and power. Self determination means obtaining the power to choose your own destiny as a nation. Without that power, you can’t.

    Independence is for the long term. A lot of people (such as the man I met who was voting No because he didn’t want a plastic bag tax) don’t grasp this. Who knows what shape the governance of our islands will have taken on in a century’s time? There might be a confederation, or a ‘League’ – to use an out-of-fashion concept. There might be some other evolution that none of us living now would recognise.

    So, actually the argument boils down to an even more simple dichotomy than Unionism vs Nationalism. It is desire for change (on a national scale) vs desire not to change.

    Without power, there can be no self-determination
    And without self-determination, the desire for change cannot be satisfied

  21. Derek as a paid up ‘clever person’ (Science PhD) I suggest you probe deeper in response to this feeling that some academic knows more than you. Poke the buggers with a bigger stick. The best sort of academic is comfortable in her ignorance instead of complacent in his knowledge. You cannot do research on the known, by definition. Except in law, which is the study of a known human construct. So in the law, as Tomkins demonstrates, you get the latter sort who cling to their status and knowledge and uses them to clothe themselves.

    As a biologist I’m perfectly comfortable in saying ‘I don’t know’ or ‘We don’t know’ depending on the context. Tomkins may be a good legal scholar, even a good academic teacher but that doesn’t make him privy to secret knowledge or arcane understanding (though I’m sure he is happy to throw technical jargon around to obfuscate).

    What you have to remember about lawyers is that they are taught to present cases regardless of their personal views. Cases that will sway the intended audience, whether that be the other party’s lawyers, a judge, tribunal or jury. That was all he was doing, attempting to put a case. Except his inability to empathise with or understand a genuine Yes voter instead of a strawman image of one means his case fell flat and instead was simply a collection of rehashed unionist tropes strung together that anyone with half a brain could see through.

    For a start the Scottish border after independence will simply be the second international border in ‘his’ country. Just because the Irish border doesn’t impact on his life doesn’t mean he can ignore its existence or how it currently functions despite a very different security situation that will pertain on the Scottish border. So what is his beef?

    When he crosses the border today the laws that apply to him change as he must know. The currency at least superficially changes. The flags he sees flying are different. The law officers have different names to those on the other side. He has rights (to roam for eg) on one side he doesn’t on the other. On one side if he gets arrested his dna is taken and put on a database regardless of whether he is charged, on the other if he is not charged it is destroyed.

    That border is already legally and functionally meaningful. By pretending that it isn’t he is arguing dishonestly. But a dishonest and unreal picture of the current situation is the only way he can argue. That may work in a court Professor, I see right through it in an instant.

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