I have followed this project since coming across it during its ‘crowdfunding’ phase when director Anthony Baxter was seeking to ensure that successive knock-backs from more traditional funding sources wouldn’t prevent him making the film. Everything about the intention to document the impact of such a vast and overbearing project on a Special Site Of Scientific Interest, and one of the last truly wild places in Scotland, just seemed so right.
I have watched via regular updates as the film was completed and steadily gained much positive critical acclaim as it managed to get featured in a range of film festivals around the world.
I have to admit that the bullying and blustering behaviour demonstrated by Donald Trump came as no surprise. What did come as a surprise (even for a cynic like me) was the ease with which The Scottish Government capitulated to the bully, calling in the planning application refusal and reversing it to allow the environmental vandalism to proceed. Coming as another surprise was the regularity with which Scottish First Minister, Alex Salmond, always claimed to be too busy to attend screenings of the film – even when one was brought to his doorstep and delivered in The Scottish Parliament Building. This is all the more remarkable given that the controversy had taken place in his own constituency.
One of two golf courses has now been completed and opened but the rest of the overly ambitious project has been put on hold as ‘The Donald’ waits to see if he can again force a change if Scottish Government behaviour regarding the siting of a proposed offshore wind farm which he claims would spoil the view from his course.
The documentary was screened last night on BBC2 and certainly caused a bit of a Twitter storm with #trumped trending highly throughout and after the broadcast. Some critics claim that the documentary was very one-sided; it needn’t have been if the Trump organisation, Grampian Police, Aberdeenshire Council and the Scottish Government had accepted invitations to provide their points of view.
As the full disgusting, shameful horror of the maltreatment of the dignified local residents who refused to be bullied unfolded, I was enraged. I also noted a few rather ironic things:
people who don’t want to have to suffer the sight of a working farm should buy a neighbouring plot of land – on the other hand I saw no signs of any pigs on Michael Forbes’ property, and certainly couldn’t see anything remotely resembling a slum (aesthetics can all be a bit relative anyway, I personally feel that the proposed Trump buildings would have been eyesores and far prefer properties with individual character);
Mr. Trump stated that when he wished to be able to look out from his golf course and see the ocean should perhaps have bought a site from where that was actually possible as the nearest ocean is on the other side of Scotland (although he later underscored his utter ignorance of Scottish geography by stating that his development was on the west coast of Scotland).
It would appear that some SNP stalwarts have been outraged by the decision to screen the film on the closing day of their conference – ‘don’t shoot the messenger’ springs to mind. Perhaps Mr. Salmond should have had the common decency to accept one of the invitations to view the film and comment on it in advance, it certainly couldn’t have been the case that they didn’t know about the existence of the film. I can only imagine that such complaints actually emphasise how badly their leader has behaved. Then again the SNP do seem to have a penchant for dictating timetables. It seemed to be a different story when the First Minister managed to travel to the USA to participate in the premier of a cartoon telling a fictional story (‘Brave’), no doubt at the expense of the taxpayer.
In the aftermath of the national screening of this truly brave film, and it’s availability on i-player, I would really like to see people taking a closer interest in the actual operation of our politicians and be more determined to challenge abuses of power. I also rather look forward to mother nature gradually reclaiming the landscape and returning it to those locals who had learned to live in harmony with the dynamic landscape. Karine Polwart’s haunting song ‘Cover Your Eyes’, which featured at the end of the movie, was certainly an excellent choice.
Yet again, this documentary has helped to reinforce my conviction that politicians frequently change their positions, and continually fail to deliver on pre-election promises. As for those who seem to believe that having some cash to spread around, gives them the right to impose their delusions on others – it is true that money can buy lots of ‘things’, but ‘the best things in life aren’t things’!
My greatest respect and admiration goes out to director Anthony Baxter and all the residents who refused to be intimidated by the big bully from across the pond.