Socialist Worker

SNP row over billionaire Donald Trump's golf course plans

by Joe Hartney
Issue No. 2082

A deal to hand over hundreds of acres of beautiful coastline in north east Scotland to golf-loving US billionaire Donald Trump is causing what started as a local planning dispute to spill over into a major crisis about the nature of democracy in Scotland.

Aberdeenshire council voted last week to fire the Liberal Democrat councillor Martin Ford from his position as planning committee chair for using his casting vote to reject Trump's plans to build a £1 billion golf course and luxury hotel on a stretch of land on the north east coast of Scotland.

The sacking represents a total failure of 'local democracy' in the face of pressure from big business.

Ford himself only had the casting vote, which he exercised in favour of the 'status quo' – apparently the normal practice when the vote is tied.

Trump's response to the rejection of his plans was to effectively issue a 30-day ultimatum for the council to do a u-turn.

Ford's removal indicates the willingness of the councillors to dance to Trump's tune.

Trump's ultimatum led to a cry of support from local business people and to a controversial meeting between Alex Salmond, Scotland's first minister and MSP for the area, and representatives of the Trump Organisation.

SNP minister John Swinney 'called in' the planning application in a totally unprecedented manner, arguing that it was a matter of national importance that could not be decided by a local council.


No doubt many SNP supporters who believed Salmond's party would be a breath of fresh air compared to Labour are horrified at how quickly it has moved to placate Trump, and in the process become the subject of sleaze allegations.

However, this is a party whose basic economic prescription for Scotland consists of offering low-tax incentives for big business to come and exploit poorly paid workers.

Genuine concerns have been raised about potential environmental damage, but beyond that, does a luxury gated community and hotel really offer 'progress' to ordinary working people in the area?

Are jobs servicing the wealthy patrons of Trumpton really the best that can be hoped for?

The SNP's slavish attitude to big business is responsible for this mess.

It clearly shows the need for an alternative that can take up the slogan heard so clearly a few years go at the protests at the G8 summit in Gleneagles – a better world is possible!

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Article information

Mon 17 Dec 2007, 17:16 GMT
Issue No. 2082
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