Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Davids v Goliath

Call it perverse if you want, but the thing that infuriated me most in You've Been Trumped - Anthony Baxter's excellent documentary film focusing on Donald Trump's controversial multi-million-pound golf development near Aberdeen - was the fact that Robert Gordon University would even contemplate handing him an honorary doctorate. Speaking as someone who's actually worked for a PhD, it was frankly appalling to watch the oafish moneyed bully-boy with the ludicrous hair receive the award.

And for what? Riding roughshod over the feelings and views of local residents. Casually besmirching their names and characters at every opportunity in the media. Instructing his high-vis-jacketed goons to encroach onto their land, pull down power lines and leave them without running water for a week. Destroying a unique Site of Special Scientific Interest.

But what was perhaps most shocking - more shocking than Trump behaving like the arrogant, ruthless Gordon Gecko-esque uber-capitalist that he is - was the collusion of both the SNP and Grampian Police. After the initial planning application was thrown out by the local council, the Scottish government took the extraordinary step of intervening and giving the go-ahead, arguing it would be in the country's best interests, and that these outweighed any environmental concerns. Officers from Grampian Police, meanwhile, were shown acting like mercenaries within Trump's private security force, roughing up and intimidating Baxter and threatening chief thorn-in-Trump's-side Michael Forbes with a jail sentence for removing flag markers illegally placed on his own land.

Baxter's film, broadcast on BBC2 on Sunday, drew out the intimate connections between place and people and skewered Trump's brazen lies that the project had the support of environmental groups, before leaving the killer blow until last - even the central case in favour of the development is flawed, the estimated economic benefits to the region and Scotland as a whole grossly overinflated.

(Thanks to Wan for directing me to the film.)

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