Update: After publishing the blog post below, I dug a bit deeper and discovered a quite nuanced view of the controversy that was published just as it began to heat up in 2007. It’s an excellent piece by UK journalist Ed Caesar that originally ran in the Times of London, now found at Mr. Caesar’s own website. At that juncture five years ago, Trump was awaiting several of the local approvals required to build the gargantuan complex that would hold not just a golf course, but 900 vacation cottages and a ten-story hotel with 450 guest rooms. Michael Forbes was then a pesky annoyance to Trump, while many Scottish politicians favored the development. Some of it has since been built, but Forbes is still standing strong, and just won Scotsman of the Year, as noted below. While it seems that the village of Balmedie was then leaning toward support of Trump’s project, it appears that trend has since flipped in favor of the antis, of whom Forbes is the most visible symbol. The familiar dynamic has kicked in where Trump’s obnoxious personalty and bloated rhetoric has become the dominant element in the story. If you have some time, I recommend you read Caesar’s piece, as well.
The website Common Dreams reports that Donald Trump has angered lots of people in Scotland with his determination to build profit-making golf courses on pristine land that many locals do not want developed in this way. A farmer in Aberdeenshire, Michael Forbes (pictured above), has defied Trump’s demands to sell him acreage from his land, prompting the rude American to denounce Forbes as “a village idiot” who “lives like a pig.” Now, Forbes has won a national contest as Scotsman of the Year, being named over such luminaries as Wimbledon champion Andy Murray. Forbes is quoted by Common Dreams:
“I went right off him the first time I met him. He was being all nicey, nicey and talking about how successful he was and how much money he had. That was it for me. I took an instant dislike to him. He called me a village idiot …but I think everyone knows by now that he’s the clown of New York.”
The press in Britain have lionized Mr. Forbes a 21st century ‘local hero,’ reminiscent of the Scottish character in the 1983 Bill Forsyth film with Burt Lancaster and Peter Riegert “Local Hero,” who convinces his town to resist the siren song of an oil company’s money. Sticking to the film analogy, a documentary has been released on the golf course controversy, “You’ve Been Trumped.” Here’s a trailer for it:
An advocacy group has also been formed to push back against the development, Tripping Up Trump. I’ve been to Scotland several times over the years and admire people I’ve met there and remain entranced by the countryside, even seeing it only in photos. Kudos to those saying, “No” to Donald Trump! For a very nuanced view of this controversy just as it was getting started in 2007, I recommend UK journalist Ed Ceasar’s excellent story that originally ran in the Times of London. At that juncture five years ago, Trump was awaiting some of the locals approvals required to build the gargantuan complex that would hold not just a golf course, but 900 vacation cottages and a ten-story hotel. Michael Forbes was then a pesky annoyance to Trump and Scottish politicians who favored the development. H/t Don Van Natta, Jr. (@DVNjr) who shared the Common Dreams piece on Twitter.