A TORY MSP has caused a social media storm after he launched an attack on the Deputy First Minister on Twitter yesterday evening.

Adam Tomkins, who won his Holyrood seat on the Glasgow list and will be stepping down in May, tweeted the attack on John Swinney after the SNP minister U-turned on the decision not to publish legal advice given to the Scottish Government around the botched handling of complaints against Alex Salmond.

The case, which Salmond ultimately won, cost the taxpayer more than half a million pounds. Calls for the Scottish Government to publish the legal advice it received in the run up to that court ruling came to a head yesterday.

All four of the opposition parties in Holyrood signalled they would support a Tory motion of no confidence in Swinney in an effort to force the publication of the legal advice.

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The effort was successful and the Scottish Government agreed to publish the advice despite misgivings that doing would establish a bad precedent.

In the wake of Swinney’s U-turn, Tomkins took to Twitter to express his frustration.

The Tory MSP wrote: “Swinney does the right thing not because it’s the right thing to do but only because it’ll save his neck. Devious unscrupulous manipulative little man.”

The outburst did not go unnoticed on social media, with SNP councillor Mhairi Hunter tweeting a gif of a child throwing a tantrum in response.

The sentiment was echoed by SNP MP Chris Law, who asked: “Adam, how old are you?” followed by an emoji of a baby’s bottle.

Others highlighted how Tomkins’s issue seemed to be that the Tories had gotten their way. Pollster Mark McGeoghegan said the MSP “would rather have the scalp than the legal advice”.

A no-confidence vote would not have placed a legal obligation on Swinney to resign, but the pressure from opposition parties in its wake would have been immense.

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Many of the Deputy First Minister’s SNP colleagues came to his defence, variously accusing Tomkins of resorting to a “personal”, “revolting”, and “contemptible” attack.

Carol Monaghan, the SNP MP for Glasgow North West, wrote: “I thought you better than this, Adam. John is a kind, honest and gracious man who is respected across the political spectrum.

“Who were you hoping to engage with a tweet such as this? Really disappointing.”

John Nicolson MP added: “What a revolting tweet. John Swinney - as friends and colleagues will tell you from across the political spectrum - is a thoroughly decent, kind, and honourable man. He is the last person deserving of this venom.”

SNP MP Stewart McDonald commented: “People from all political viewpoints will tell you what a decent, honourable and conscientious public servant John Swinney has been over his near 25 years in elected office. Adam’s political career - as unremarkable as it is blessedly short - stands in the shade by comparison.”

Drew Hendry MP wrote: “Anybody who has had any dealings with @JohnSwinney knows this is a contemptible comment to make.

“Across politics, at all levels, all parties and none, over many years, I have heard countless remarks of respect and friendship for him. This says more about Mr Tomkins than John.”

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MP Gavin Newlands wrote: “How disappointing. No matter how much I vehemently disagree with him on almost everything, I genuinely thought this personal nonsense was beneath Adam. How naive of me.”

Tomkins, who is also a professor at the University of Glasgow, responded to a comment from colleague Duncan Ross on the social media platform.

Ross, who is a Dean of Graduate Studies at the university, wrote: “Adam, this is beneath you. Disagree about politics and process if you will, but there is not a person in the Scottish Parliament with more integrity than John Swinney.”

Responding, Tomkins wrote: “Integrity?! The man who told me I should be ashamed of asking him questions about his illegal and sinister named persons scheme?

“The man who won’t publish the OECD review of the SNP’s disastrous mismanagement of schools until after the election? This is honest John, is it?”