Since Donald Trump and the Birthers are everywhere today, I wonder if Alex Salmond winces at the memory of being described by Trump as “an amazing man”? I hope so. For Salmond’s role in the saga of Trump’s plans to build a golf course and, just as importantly, hundreds of “villas” on one of the more spectacular pieces of Aberdeenshire coastline was not one of the SNP ministry’s finer moments.
To recap, Aberdeenshire council rejected Trump’s application to build two golf courses, a hotel and his houses on the Menie Estate (pictured above). The Scottish government, as it is wont* to do, called in the application and to precisely no-one’s surprise over-ruled the council and gave Trump permission to build the “greatest golf course in the world”. It is, supposedly, a £750m development and the government was evidently enthused by the project’s claimed potential and, let us be blunt, by the celebrity behind it. That’s certainly how Trump chose to see it: “I got it built because they wanted Trump. If my name was anything else than Donald Trump, zero chance. Zero.”
A parliamentary enquiry gave Salmond a rap across the knuckles but no more than that. Of rather greater concern than the appearance of political interference or impropriety (of which there may well have been none) was the longstanding concern – covered here and here – that the Trump organisation would use compulsory purchase orders to evict four households who opposed his plans but had the misfortune to find their land claimed by “The Donald’s” increasingly-expansive claims for more land. (He has 1400 acres for his course and houses). That danger is now said to be passed but, like Michael Forbes** and the others, I’ll wait and see before believing anything the Trump organisation says.
Meanwhile, Trump is objecting