If the heart problem which the NHS is going to sort out next Friday were stress-related, watching last night’s documentary, You’ve been Trumped, might well have saved them the trouble. It was about an item that’s been very big news in my area for a long time now. It should be just as big in the rest of Scotland and, indeed, the UK and any other country which prizes democracy and respects its citizens, but there are many people who’d prefer not to acknowledge what’s been happening.
In brief, Donald Trump has destroyed a site of Special Scientific Interest, one of the very few of its kind (some people say the only one) in Scotland in order to build a vanity project golf course. It’s on a stretch of coast that already boasts, in the 22 miles between Aberdeen and Cruden Bay, 3 excellent championship links courses. I play golf (badly, sometimes very badly indeed), but like it a lot and I’ve had some great times on the many wonderful courses all over Scotland. But this is not about golf, it’s about hubris and corruption; the proof that waving money at governments and the police has a greater impact than principles or ideologies.
Trump is self-parody taken to extremes. His hair is too easy a target. I mean, if he looks in the mirror and thinks what he sees is an acceptable self-image, what value can you put on his judgement of anything? He flies in and out of places in his private jet, is surrounded by sycophants and recites his ill-considered (if considered at all) opinions as facts. (According to him, Aberdeen is on the West coast of Scotland and lots of the top environmental experts have approved of his destruction of the Menie links.)
We know there are such people and there’s little we can do to shake their self-belief, challenge their world view or match the power they derive from their money. But far more depressing is the fact that, in this case, his corporate vandalism, his disregard for the environment and, above all, his despicable treatment of local residents has been condoned and even facilitated by the Scottish government and Grampian police. The Robert Gordon University, an excellent institution whose record of graduate employment is exemplary, was even craven enough to award him an honorary degree.
The full extent of the spread of culpability in this whole sorry affair was revealed in that multi-award-winning documentary, made by a persistent and very courageous journalist, Anthony Baxter. You can see it here on the BBC iPlayer.
Our First Minister is a highly intelligent man and probably the most astute politician in the UK. He is passionate about Scotland achieving independence through the 2014 referendum. When the Aberdeenshire Council rejected the Trump application to build the course (admittedly needing the Chairman’s casting vote to do so), it was overruled by his government. He is far too canny not to have recognised the irony in a context where independence is fairly won through democratic processes and then overridden with ease by the power of corporations which simply threaten to move their money elsewhere. A highly respected economics expert has questioned the validity of the arguments which Trump and his political allies have cited for allowing the development to go ahead (more jobs for locals, visitors spending more money in the region). But even if they ARE valid, the way in which Trump, aided by the police, has treated the residents whose lives he’s ruined is inexcusable and taints the whole scheme with its disregard for individuals, and its explicit demonstration that their needs and values are less important than his own.
The whole deplorable project is a direct negation of the proud, long-standing Scottish values of compassion, community and respect..