Trump, Salmond, Megrahi and the eroding of Scottish democracy

Donald Trump's plans to build a golf resort expose the shortfalls of democracy in Scotland.


This Sunday a documentary will be aired on BBC Two on Donald Trump’s plans to build a golf resort in Aberdeenshire. The film’s director, Anthony Baxter, has described it as a “David and Goliath” story.

Trump’s plan for the resort involves two full golf courses, 1,500 houses and a skyscraper on what is meant to be protected land. The application was allowed to go ahead because the Scottish government overturned its own environmental laws.

The plans have come under criticism for many reasons, but one major area of criticism is the environmental impact. In wildlife terms it is an extremely delicate and valuable area – the Scottish Wildlife Trust expressed concern at one of the UK’s most important sand dune systems being at risk.

On top of this Trump has made sustained attacks upon plans by the Scottish government to build an offshore wind farm near the site.

The building plans for the site resulted in many people being forced from their homes, water being shut off and for those that didn’t move, a vast building site constructed around them.

Trump, the Scottish government and other supporters of the project claim it will create jobs for local people. Baxter, however, says their claim of 6,000 new jobs is far removed from the reality of the “few dozen” he says it will actually create.

During the filming of the documentary Baxter and his cameraman were arrested in an attempt by Trump to stop the filming. Upon hearing the documentary would be aired on the BBC, Trump continued his tirade on Twitter when he described Baxter as a “stupid fool”.

This documentary airs on the back of increased focus on the relationship between Trump and the Scottish government. Last week saw revelations and accusations concerning first minister Alex Salmond attempting to secure Trump’s backing for the release of accused Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi. This attempt failed but Salmond, after taking a meeting with executives of the Trump organisation, went ahead with overruling the local council so as to aid Trump’s plans. Salmond has denied any impropriety in the relationship.

However, when the chief executive of Aberdeenshire council Alan Campbell rang the chief planner for the Scottish government Jim McKinnon, he was alarmed there were representatives from Trump’s organisation there and terminated the conversation.

You’ve Been Trumped airs at 10:00 on Sunday on BBC Two.

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