Jan 272012
 

One of America’s biggest stars, Rosie O’Donnell, has admitted to millions that she was “moved to tears” by the hit feature documentary You’ve Been Trumped when the film’s director was the main guest on her show last week.

Footage of what the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) described as filmmaker Anthony Baxter’s “violent arrest” was broadcast across  America for the first time.

The broadcast prompted scores of outraged viewers to hit Twitter and Facebook to voice their anger at the actions of Donald Trump, the Scottish Government and Grampian Police.

On The Rosie Show, Baxter revealed how Freedom of Information requests made by the Sunday Herald have only heightened concerns that Grampian Police “have been acting like Donald Trump’s private security force”.  He also accused the force of carrying out a “whitewash cover up enquiry’ into his arrest.

The arrests of Baxter and his colleague Richard Phinney whilst making their film in 2010 prompted fierce criticism from the NUJ. The union described the police’s actions as “a breach of human rights” with “important implications for press freedom”.  

Meanwhile, O’Donnell is urging Americans to watch what she describes as “an amazing film”. She admits to crying during the scene where hundreds of people walk across the bulldozed dunes of the Menie Estate, to show of support for local resident Michael Forbes, accused by Mr Trump of “living like a pig in a slum”.

You’ve Been Trumped will be screened again in Chicago on 22 March, prior to its being rolled out for screenings in Europe as well as in Washington DC, Miami, New York, San Francisco, Arizona and other major American cities.

Clips from The Rosie Show…
http://www.oprah.com/rosie/The-Rosie-Show-Rosie-Takes-on-Trump

You’ve Been Trumped has won a total of eight international film festival awards

WINNER: Starz Denver Film Festival, USA
WINNER: Take One Action Film Festival, Scotland
WINNER: Michael Moore’s Traverse City Film Festival, Michigan
WINNER: DaKINO International Film Festival, Bucharest
WINNER: Hamptons International Film Festival, New York
WINNER: Edindocs Film Festival, Edinburgh
WINNER: Wild & Scenic Environmental Film Festival, Nevada City
WINNER: Sheffield International Documentary Festival UK

Michael Moore hand-picked You’ve Been Trumped for his Traverse City Film Festival in Michigan where it won the Special Jury Prize. It is now well on course to be the most successful cinema feature documentary ever produced in Scotland.

Jan 272012
 

Maggie Craig’s writing catalogue includes highly-rated and very readable insights into the 1745 Jacobite Rebellion and Red Clydeside. It was only natural then, when David Innes and Maggie met that a political discussion would ensue.

You’re obviously a radical, given the content and viewpoint of the Jacobite and Red Clydeside books.

I think the worst thing that happened to Britain was Margaret Thatcher. Someone tried to tell me that she had a human side. I said that I didn’t want to talk about Margaret Thatcher as we would fall out if we did.

I wouldn’t wish ill on anyone, but that’s one grave I would dance on because she skewed Britain. I’m not at all anti-English and I hate the Scottish nationalism that is, because that’s a divide and conquer thing.

I remember when she was in power and I was a tourist guide taking German visitors around and they would often say, “I really admire your Mrs Thatcher”, and I’d think, “I’m working, I must be careful here”, but I knew I was tired when I said, “We wouldn’t have had beggars in the street like we do now before Margaret Thatcher”. If you’ve got beggars in the street, there’s something seriously wrong with your society.

I was in Aberdeen for the book signing at Waterstones in October. It was about 6 o’ clock and I’d parked up Huntly Street way and I passed the Cyrenians where there was a crowd of mainly men. I thought, “It’s a soup kitchen! Here in the oil capital of Europe there are people queuing up for a bowl of soup”. You wonder if there shouldn’t be a levy on the oil companies – they haven’t really done much for Aberdeen, have they? They haven’t really left any sort of cultural development behind them.

I think people don’t realise that they themselves have power. Maybe the one blessing of the financial crisis is that people who have been turned into consumers may think again. Shopping centres are the new cathedrals, and it’s almost become like ‘Brave New World’ where people just have to get the latest model of phone. It used to be that you just worked and didn’t have the money to buy the goods you produced, but now we’ve got this circle where you can buy all these goods; but do we need them all?

There’s nothing wrong with honest trade. We need oil to keep our houses powered. I don’t want to go back to candles, to that simple greeny thing. I think I’m quite anti-green and that there’s quite a Fascist strand in a lot of green thought. I went to see the Trump development.

I know people don’t like him and his ways, but I was quite impressed by the people telling us what they were going to do. I thought, “That means I can get down to those dunes where I couldn’t get down before when Menie was a shooting estate”. I’m horrified too, by how we’re being forced to accept windfarms, industrialising the countryside. It’s just people making a buck, little to do with greenness.

  I believed in that and now it’s been destroyed. Now it’s been shown to be brutal

I suppose there have been entrepreneurs who have had social consciences but then they claw their way over everyone else. I don’t know the full story of Andrew Carnegie, but I don’t suppose he was lily-white as he made his way up the greasy pole.

I do think there is a ‘zeitgeist’ thing going on, where people are saying that we ought to think about society and community. I slightly despair of the anti-capitalist protestors because they don’t seem to know what they want, what they’re in favour of. It seems a bit vague and woolly. Someone said it was irrelevant that they went to Starbucks to buy their coffee, but to me that’s an issue.

My dad was a member of the Scottish-USSR Friendship Society based in Belmont Street in Glasgow’s west end, and we would meet people from the USSR, who were probably carefully selected, and here on holiday, and they would talk about Robert Burns. Then Prague happened and things went downhill after that. I was about 17 and it felt personal. I thought, “I believed in that and now it’s been destroyed. Now it’s been shown to be brutal.”

The Communist experiment failed. You think about the Russian people, “How much more can they suffer?” because a strong man like Putin always seems to emerge in Russia and just take the country and use it. You wonder, “Is old-fashioned socialism really the answer?” but capitalism stinks, so maybe I’m as bad as the anti-capitalist protestors and don’t know what is the middle ground and what we should be doing. I’m not sure how we can use the old left and right thing any more.

I’m coming round to thinking that everybody should get some sort of a basic wage, but that’s too radical isn’t it?

There’s this dichotomy with the Scottish left. There’s a nationalism and a pride in Scottishness, but there’s also the feeling that the workers don’t have a country – but they do. The workers of Germany, for example, have lots of reasons to be proud of Germany and their own culture.

The Labour Party has moved too far away from its roots and has become perceived as an anti-Scottish party. I think Johann Lamont has a helluva mountain to climb to persuade people that they’re not. I like Alex Salmond. I think he’s very sharp operator, like when he swooped down on to the lawn at Prestonfield House in the helicopter. Someone had produced a poster with Alex Salmond as Che Guevara, “El Presidente” and you can see how that could be dangerous, so I’m angry with the Labour Party for being useless, for taking their eye off the ball.

I think people who are working class kids made good felt that the Labour Party was saying to them that they had to pay higher taxes. But they’d only just clawed their way up to a better situation, so there was to be no help to get your kids to university, that you had to do it all yourself. There’s a problem there in that the politicians themselves were in quite comfortable positions, but they were almost preaching.

I think it’s been advanced before, but I’m coming round to thinking that everybody should get some sort of a basic wage, but that’s too radical isn’t it? It would also give you buying power which would help the economy. If you’re making widgets, someone’s got to be buying them.

I was talking to a woman earlier who said that she couldn’t afford to work and look after her children so she decided to give up work. I wondered when we’d got to the stage where a woman looking after her children was considered not to be contributing to society. It disturbs me that you’re expected to be out there doing some god-awful job rather than being with your kids.

Although Maggie’s only lived in the North East for 20 years, she still sometimes feels like an ‘inabootcomer’. In the concluding part of our chat, she talks about this corner of the planet, and drops a hint that she may find inspiration to write about North East Scotland.

Dec 012011
 

Old Susannah looks back at the week that was, who said what to whom about what, and wonders what Saint Andrew would have made of it all.

Happy St Andrew’s Day! Old Suz is having haggis and whisky, or ‘swishky’ as the man at the next table is calling it. St Andrew’s Day reminds us of our national identity, more on that later. I read that Aberdeen is climbing up the list of ‘best places to live in the world’ and has reached the dazzling height of No. 52.

Well done everyone! And that’s before we get our glowing stadium at Loirston or our giant glass worm. We’ll be number 51 in the world before you know it.  Apparently factors like our low crime level feed into how the ratings are calculated. Congratulations to us all for living in this desirable paradise.

These statistics may or may not include the small minority of people who aren’t rolling in dosh like most of us are. The statistics on crime may or may not be being ‘massaged’ – after all, the top brass get nice bonuses if the crime levels are low. How could I think such a thing? Well, the newspapers this week may have something to do with it.

We’ve had a charming man just sent to prison; he kicked a four-year-old child in the head. Fair enough, they had been having an argument apparently.  You know what these toddlers can be like.

Another similar humanitarian’s gone down for 3 years for robbing children of their pocket money and jewellery, threatening to ‘slash’ some of them. The fact the victims were boys, girls and an autistic person just show that this particular thief was running his business in a non-discriminatory way.  He should be congratulated really. To be even more inclusive, this particular robber tried putting on a ‘Scouse’ accent.

Perhaps his career is inspiring to young people – a nine year old’s been caught stealing a car as well.  You’re never too young to learn.  I wonder if he at least brought a child safety seat on the job with him?

We’ve had older people robbed, conned and abused. Yes, in our 21st Century world, Aberdeen is the 52nd best place to live.  I’d say ‘safe as houses’, but we’ve had burglaries and fire-raising in the news as well.  Still, statistics don’t lie, and if there are experts who say we’re no. 52 in the planet, who are we to question it.

I heard something about some disruptive elements holding something called a ‘strike’. I just hope this won’t affect our place in the world quality standing. I can’t for the life of me see why anyone in such a highly-ranked city would have any reasons for unhappiness, although frozen salaries, cut pensions, closed schools, closed recreational facilities, cut school lessons, cut services and cuts to care homes might play a small role.

Someone should look into this.  Maybe if we just all looked at the brand new festive lights on Union Street, the rest of it wouldn’t matter so much.

That nice Mr Jeremy Clarkson had a solution for these ‘striking’ workers – he apparently said on air that he’d have them all shot in front of their families.  He thinks they get great pensions.  Please be a bit patient and don’t judge Mr Clarkson too harshly.  He’s got to work for a living, and probably only has a modest pension to look forward to.

It is not like him to be intolerant of other people, and as it’s the season of good will (or is it the season of ‘buy one get one free’ – I can never remember), let’s let Jeremy off the hook. We should be more tolerant, like he is.

Perhaps it’s time for some definitions.

Nationalism: (noun), The belief that a person or thing’s national origin is its most important and most defining characteristic.

Incidents of racism and nationalism are on the rise – not just in the UK at large, but here in 52nd best city, Aberdeen. Still, it’s important to remember just how important a person’s nationality is. If Donald Trump hadn’t reminded us that he has a granny from Skye, we might not have given his development the wink and the nod.

Pretty soon we’ll have the number one golf course in the world near the 52nd greatest city: it will be like paradise on earth. Believe it or not, on my mother’s side I can trace my direct ancestry all the way back to King Duncan, King Alexander and St Margaret of Scotland.

Armed with this information, I intend to ask Alex Salmond to give me privileges as well.  Maybe someone will even sell me some land in Westhills for a fraction of its value. National origin is where it’s at.

Of course if someone’s not Scottish, it’s OK to discriminate against them and you can always tell someone’s national origin by looking at them.

We know what a pure Scottish person looks like because of their Scottish characteristics. These Scottish traits come from the Egyptian princess Scota (for whom the country may be named). They also come from the Phoenicians who sailed here, the Celts who came here and the Vikings, Danes, and Norsemen who raided now and then. These pure Scottish traits also come from the Picts, and the Romans (whatever they may have done for us).

Later on continental settlers from travellers and sailors to kings and queens came from the continent. St Colomba came from Ireland, and the movement of people between Ireland and Scotland was massive. So yes – be proud you’re Scottish. After all, it’s not like a Scot is some kind of foreigner or something.

We could learn a lot from that nice lady on Youtube who had a wee bit of a go at foreigners coming over here to live.  It’s only been going on for three and a half thousand years or more as far as I can tell.  The lady in question is now helping the police with their enquiries.

St Andrew, for those who didn’t know, came from Galilee, and was Jewish-born convert to Christianity.  He had this crazy idea of preaching his religion (something to do with ‘turning the other cheek’, loving one another, and so on) to people in every country he could manage to travel to.

He travelled extensively in Europe and is also revered in half a dozen countries and the Greek Orthodox Church.  No doubt he’d be proud of the nationalism that seems to be taking hold of a few people here.  What he’d say to the giant worm or the monolith plans for Union Terrace Gardens is another matter.

Aberdeen Citizens Party: (noun) A facebook site with some 35 friends.

A wide range of rather strong opinions can be found on this site.  The Citizens Party is against Halal slaughter of animals (so am I).  It is all for capital punishment, and says that since 80 percent of people (really?) want the death penalty brought back it should be done.  I guess if a few innocent people get killed like happens in the USA, then the families can be given some kind of compensation payment. Fair enough.

This page is apparently run by one Patrick Wight; I’m told he has some form of hilarious act wherein he pretends to be a camp homosexual hairdresser named ‘Patrice’.  I really must catch that some time (perhaps around the time I want to define ‘tolerance’ more fully).

Old Susannah was surprised to read this on the Citizens page:

“Lets hope that a campaign of direct action can save Union Terrace Gardens and prevent the environmental damage which is to be inflicted upon it by Ian Wood and his yes men. The right to protest peacefully is a fundamental part of our society. We tend to forget that many of the human rights we cherish today are a direct result of protests by ordinary people who were prepared to go onto the streets ..”

I of course don’t want anything to stand in the way of Stewart getting his much-needed parking spaces, and Ian getting his eventual statue.  However, I found the above just a little bit of a contradiction to what a Patrick Wight wrote to Aberdeen Voice:-

“Message:
Not affiliated to any political party?
Your having a fcuken (sic) laugh!
Your promoting the day of action rally by the political left and the unions who want to wreck economic recovery and cause public misery across Britain.”

So – a protest is fine, but not a day of action rally by the unions.  I can’t quite work out why we have unions anyway, since we’re number 52 in the world.  It might have had something to do with workers in the past not having great rights (or any rights).  It might have something to do with the infamous New York City sweatshop fire in the Triangle building–  all the workers had been locked in and none escaped the fire.

But that was then and this is now.  Public sector workers have ‘gilt edged’ pensions; Jeremy Clarkson said so.  Let’s all get behind the Aberdeen Citizens Party and protest against the gardens, but complain about unions having a day of protest.  Makes sense to me.

Next week:  more definitions, including ‘slacktivist’ – someone who likes the idea of supporting a cause, as long as it doesn’t mean doing anything much.

Nov 222011
 

‘You’ve Been Trumped’ scoops Best Documentary award at one of America’s biggest film festivals ~ Jury calls film ‘deeply troubling’ ~ Salmond stays silent.  With thanks to Tripping Up Trump.

Feature documentary ‘You’ve Been Trumped’ has won its fifth major award – clinching the Best Documentary Prize at the 34th Starz Denver Film Festival, Denver, Colorado, USA.

In winning the award, ‘You’ve Been Trumped’ topped an impressive list of 59 of the year’s very best documentaries from around the world.

Other winners at the prestigious ceremony at the city’s Ellie Caulkins Opera House included actress Judy Greer, Scottish actor Alan Cumming OBE, and Hollywood star James Cromwell – who personally congratulated Montrose based director Anthony Baxter on ‘You’ve Been Trumped’s achievement.

The jury statement read,

“We decided upon a film that tells a story about a greedy capitalist and a community trying to save its home.   We admired the filmmaker’s perseverance and his reluctance to insert himself into the David and Goliath story.

Deeply troubling, amusing, and rousing all at the same time, the winner of the 2011 Maysles Brothers Award for Best Documentary Film is You’ve Been Trumped.”

Mr Baxter told the audience of several thousand filmgoers and Denver dignitaries,

“The Trump Organisation has called our film ‘a failure’ and me ‘a fraud’ whilst the local residents have been branded ‘a national embarrassment for Scotland.’   I’m proud to accept this award on their behalf.”

You’ve Been Trumped’ has now won a total of five major film festival awards – including a Special Jury Prize at Michael Moore’s Traverse City Film Festival, the Victor Rabinowitz and Joanne Grant Social Justice Award at the Hamptons International Film Festival in New York, and the Green Award at the Sheffield International Documentary Film Festival.

The filmmakers are currently seeking distribution for ‘You’ve Been Trumped’ in the United States, and a major viral campaign supported by Karine Polwart is underway.  The Scottish singer-songwriter has donated her new song, inspired by the film and called Cover Your Eyes, to ‘You’ve Been Trumped’s crowd-funding campaign.

‘You’ve Been Trumped’ will be returning to cinemas in Scotland this weekend, when it plays at the Filmhouse in Edinburgh on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.  Scotland’s First Minister has been invited to the screenings through an open letter from the film’s director.    Alex Salmond’s private office, has yet to respond to the request.

For further information on ‘You’ve Been Trumped’ visit www.youvebeentrumped.com or on Facebook:
http://www.facebook.com/pages/Youve-Been-Trumped/187472834621346

‘You’ve Been Trumped’ has now won the following awards:

Victor Rabinowitz Social Justice Award – Hampton’s International Film Festival
Special Jury Prize – Michael Moore’s Traverse City Film Festival
Best Documentary (Maysles Brothers Award) – Starz Denver Film Festival
Best Film – Edindocs Film Festival, Edinburgh
Green Award – Doc/Fest (UK)

Nov 172011
 

 By Mike Shepherd.

On Tuesday a Council committee voted to defer a decision on a referendum for the City Garden Project to the full Council meeting on the 14th December.

Although an amendment was introduced to propose an opinion poll as an alternative, a vote for a referendum looks more likely.

If such a referendum was to happen it would be held either two months before or two months after the local council elections on May 3rd.

This is one of many setbacks to have affected the City Garden Project (CGP). Here is a summary of the problems facing the scheme:

The City Garden Project is way behind schedule:  It is almost exactly three years since Sir Ian Wood announced his Civic Square proposal at His Majesty’s Theatre on the 11th November 2008. Although we are close to seeing a final design, the project is nowhere near planning submission and funding is very uncertain.

The vote on Tuesday looks to introduce further delays. It also probably shunts the planning decision well into the next Council, when at least one of the proponents of the scheme, John Stewart, will not be on the Council any more, having announced that he will stand down.

The City Garden Project is unpopular: This statement gets vigorously challenged by supporters of the CGP, yet it is clearly the case. The consultation held two years ago saw a ‘no’ vote for the CGP, and various online polls have shown a consistent numerical advantage to those wanting to keep the existing Gardens. The probability is that a referendum would reject the CGP.

The Design Exhibition failed to create any buzz in the city: The Friends of Union Terrace Gardens canvassed opinion outside the exhibition while it lasted. About half of those we talked to were unhappy about the designs. Many spoiled their votes.( by attempting to vote for the non-existent ‘option 7’.) Of those that voted, a common vote was for a design that appeared to preserve the Gardens (it doesn’t), although they reported they did this without much enthusiasm.

The land issue is a headache for the Council lawyers: Union Terrace Gardens lies on Common Good land and any land transaction, i.e. assigning a long term lease to a limited company or trust, would probably require an application to a court of session to apply for a change in status of the property.

The Council lawyers are well aware of the legal pitfalls that could ensue over the details of a property transaction (as witness the pending court case between Aberdeen Council and the Stewart Milne Group).

it involves the allocation of scarce public money using non-economic criteria

Currently,Union Terrace Gardens has negligible value as it is zoned as public open green space in the local plan.  However, should this status change at a later date and the property is re-zoned as commercial space, the land value will be in the tens of millions as prime down-town real estate.

The lawyers will have to be especially careful on this issue, particularly where a long term free-hold lease could potentially be assigned to a limited company.

Funding the City Garden Project is a big problem:  To date only £55M of private money has been pledged for a project nominally costing £140M. The CGP are pushing the Council to underwrite a loan of £70M through Tax Incremental Financing (TIF) to help part fund the scheme.

Aberdeen Council’s business case was so feeble it didn’t even rank in the top six schemes assessed for recommendation by the Scottish Futures Trust. Even so, the Scottish Government Cabinet Secretary for Infrastructure and Capital Investment, Alex Neil, has told Aberdeen Council that their TIF application may still be considered. However, the TIF would be awarded on a ‘geographical’ basis rather than an ostensibly ‘economic’ basis.

This can be criticised as very poor Government practice; it involves the allocation of scarce public money using non-economic criteria. It also begs the question that if the business case doesn’t stack up, why is the debt-ridden Aberdeen Council under consideration to be allowed to borrow money for it?

Questions are being asked in Holyrood about Aberdeen’s TIF funding. This is from an article by Steven Vass in last weekend’s Sunday Herald:

“First Minister Alex Salmond’s decision to permit Aberdeen’s £70M borrowing plan for redesigning the city centre will come under renewed fire when he is forced to answer questions in the Scottish Parliament this week.

“Lewis MacDonald, the Aberdeen MSP and long-time opponent of the scheme, said there was a “scandal lurking under the surface” around the permission. He has tabled a series of parliamentary questions demanding answers to speculation the Government’s approval overruled the economic advice of specialists at the Scottish Futures Trust, who were supposed to decide which projects would go ahead.”

Another potential show-stopper is that last year the Council decreed that borrowing money through a TIF scheme must present ‘zero risk’ to the Councils finances.  The only realistic way this could happen is if an organisation or individual was prepared to underwrite the Council loan.

This would be a major commitment to say the least, as it would involve underwriting £70M for a 25 to 30 year period. Perhaps Sir Ian Wood is willing to do this, but even for him or his family trust, it would involve a significant allocation of capital resources over a long term period.

Add to this the question of cost over-run. One architect told me this week that with the massive rock excavation operation involved and the difficulties of building over the railway line, there was no way of this project coming in on budget. Yet, very little has been said about what would happen if the costs do over-run massively.

The problems are stacking up for the City Garden Project and even three years later they are not much closer to being resolved. The patient is looking sickly and the prognosis is not good.

Nov 042011
 

“Politics for beginners…with a green edge”. As a ‘young person’…this expression I always feel is a little condescending but nevertheless…as a ‘young person’ the world of politics can seem both inaccessible and unapproachable. So I was pleasantly surprised this weekend when I made the effort to go along to the Scottish Green Party conference which was held at the University of Aberdeen. Bex Holmes reports. 

So, what was this conference all about, you maybe asking?

Well every year like most political parties’, the Scottish Greens hold an annual conference in which members can get together and have a good old natter about the world’s pressing issues including those happening locally.

There is of course a bit more to it than that, such as getting your head around voting for new policy motions and various other in-house processes. Most of which baffled me, but I’m ‘young’ so I can get away with being a bit clueless now and again!

Aside from all these formalities however Patrick Harvie MSP gave a keynote speech which really made me stop and think. Everything he said reminded me of why I had not only sought to become more active in politics in the first place but why I choose to join to the Scottish Greens over all others.

He highlighted the Scottish Government’s contradictory policies on energy and climate change. Yes, our climate change targets are awesome and a step in the right direction. But (and that’s a big but) they are completely undermined by our continued support of the fossil fuel industry. Simple as!

More eloquently put of course by Mr Harvie:

“Alex Salmond now has a very clear and simple choice – he must either fail on Scotland’s much-vaunted climate change targets, or he must drop his unconditional support for the fossil fuel industries…First, the new coal-fired power station at Hunterston must be blocked. Then he must rule out shale gas extraction, which his Energy Minister has refused to do.

“Then, because CCS can never be applied to most uses of oil anyway, he must drop his support for dangerous deepwater oil drilling in Scottish waters…The challenge with fossil fuels is not to burn all the reserves we already know about, let alone to go looking for more. The priority has to be energy efficiency and renewables.”

Basically, it’s a bit loony of the SNP to think that they can run a high-carbon and low-carbon economy at the same time. They have to choose.

You maybe thinking at this point…ah what does she know? She’s young and evidently a bit naive. Well, I maybe naive in the ins and outs of politics but I know enough as an Environmental Scientist that Scotland has a responsibility to curb our emissions. Both for the sake of those in developing countries who unfortunately will bare the brunt of climate change but also our children, and our children’s children.

We need to take action now which must be integrated into the whole of society including our financial system. This brings me onto another thing that reiterated my choice in the Scottish Greens. I was delighted that an emergency motion was passed supporting the Occupy movement.

Speaking at the conference and representing Edinburgh’s Green Councillors Cllr Steve Burgess said;

“Greens support Occupy Edinburgh in their call for a new economic system that will reduce inequality and protect the planet’s shared resources that we all depend on.  It’s early days for this movement but this up welling of dissatisfaction is a welcome indication that even people in democratic countries are feeling disenfranchised.”

Yes indeed, there are load of us ‘young people’ out there who are disenfranchised. I dare say maybe ‘young people’ have always been disenfranchised but with few job prospects and soaring higher education fees, is it any wonder that we tend to be a grumpy bunch?! So I was also glad there was a fringe event with the ‘young greens’ whose main aim is to support members between the ages of 13-30 and discuss their problems and concerns.

Having a network of ‘young people’ across the country will help enable us to raise the profile of issues which disproportionately effect young people, including social housing, jobs and education. As well as the dire state of our health as a nation…there’s that big ‘A’ word that just won’t go away…alcohol.

Other activities included workshops on canvassing, which basically means being very smiley, saying hello and actually talking to you out there…the voters.

To sum up my experience of the Scottish Greens conference as a ‘young person’ and political novice – it was fun!

I learnt a lot and more importantly it has motivated me to become even more involved with politics. To these ends I will endeavour to stop hiding behind my veil of cluelessness and get savvy about things because frankly, there’s a lot of stuff that affects me and my future which I think most politicians completely miss.

Not because they don’t care but because they are privileged having never come across these issues in their own lives.

So this is my small call to arms. ‘Young people’ we do actually need you! You can actually make a difference! Register to vote. Do a little reading on political parties…as a member of the Scottish Greens of course I will be biased here but seriously look at what the parties are actually saying in their manifestos. How will it affect you?

Most importantly, VOTE. And if one day you’re wondering what more you can do, why not join a political party and become actively involved? I took that leap and for me it was well worth the effort. 

 For further info, contact: Scottish Greens Aberdeen And Aberdeenshire Working Group

Oct 132011
 

How can Labour  move forward in the wake of the SNP electoral Tsunami of May 2011? Mike Martin interviews  Barney Crockett, the Labour Group leader on Aberdeen City Council.

What is your explanation for the overwhelming SNP victory in May?

The first obvious point to make is that everybody who didn’t want to vote Labour transferred their votes to the SNP. It should be noted that Labour’s problems did not start in the last election since Labour’s vote has been similar in the last couple of elections. But the weakness was disguised by that fact that people who didn’t like Labour voted in different ways. On this occasion it all came together so that made the situation for the SNP overwhelming.

I think the explanation for that is what the SNP managed to do is make a large part of the Scottish population scared of a Labour victory, in particular, Iain Gray, and that doesn’t correspond to reality. The SNP strategy was to make Iain Gray look inadequate and play on that relentlessly and Labour, by allowing the campaign to become Salmond versus Gray, therefore had a great problem.

I think the SNP strategy was to make everything a Salmond versus Gray issue and Labour would have wanted to avoid that because Salmond had all the advantages of being someone who is the only key character in his party and has been the dominant figure for nearly all his adult life.

 Whereas it is always going to be the case for Labour that the question of leader is always going to be a more complicated issue because, as leader, you have to be relevant at a UK, Scottish and local level and no one individual will have the enormous dominance that Salmond has.

What resources did the SNP deploy?

I think resources were also relevant and one of the apparent weaknesses of the SNP is that they didn’t seem to have the ability to raise funds but this was reversed by the enormous donation of Brian Souter and went on to attract support from a few key business figures.

Labour are unable to undermine the illusion that the SNP have the support of business when the reality is their support is from quite a narrow section and Labour has the affirmation of more mainstream sections of the business community.

I think that this may be an on-going difficulty as the SNP may be able to carry on attracting support from the oligarchs or proto-oligarchic sections of the business elite and that’s going to be politically interesting as to how reliant the SNP are on some sections of the business elite that gain from deregulation and some that are effectively asset strippers.

What sections of the electorate moved over to the SNP?

A very large proportion as I’ve mentioned earlier, again something interesting is that the SNP have managed to portray themselves as having an entirely different kind of attractiveness to different sections of voters.

Scotland is the part of the UK that most resembles the UK average in almost all measurements

I think the most important element to them that Labour has to process very carefully is that the most significant part of their core electorate is men in their middle or later middle age who have done quite well. Scotland has quite a lot of people in those circumstances which historically we may not have seen in such large numbers before.

 I think the striking feature now about Scotland is that sociologically it is very like the rest of the UK in ways that it didn’t used to be, for example,  traditionally Scotland would have been seen as having  higher unemployment, greater poverty, poorer housing , a higher proportion of the workforce organised in Trade Unions and a lower proportion of upper middle class – Now Scotland is the part of the UK that most resembles the UK average in almost all measurements.

The wider aspect is that Scotland is the third wealthiest part of the UK but what is interesting is that the two parts which are more wealthy are London and the South East – and sometimes, depending on how you measure it, East Anglia – these parts are so far ahead that Scotland is at the average and all the other regions are below.

Sometimes politicians look backwards and are slow to appreciate these trends and build them into their thinking. This is due to the rise of Finance which is by far the largest employment in some parts of the country and this has to be part of the forward thinking as to how politicians respond to that.

That was the starting point, but by the end a number of sections of the electorate have moved to the SNP and that is going to be politically interesting for our strategies as the SNP will not be  able to please all of the people all of the time, and Labour will have to have a set of policies that appeals to different groups within that. There is a perception  that young people have moved to the SNP,  I am not sure that is true.

Labour’s appeal is quite high to young people and we can develop that. I think we have to also look at how we appeal to older people and to maintain our high attractiveness to female voters as thinking about what we do about the relatively prosperous middle class.

What is your take on the Labour campaign?

we should have made it clear what we would be sacrificing in order to achieve each one of our key policies

I think it would be slightly controversial in my view to say how Labour should have responded. Everybody is terribly clever with  20-20 hindsight but I think Labour have found the SNP, in this election in particular, hard to grapple with because we have not had  such a clear populism in British politics for a very long time.

Labour found it difficult to cope with someone who would outbid whatever populist policies that were there and Labour would have to ground their policies in a great depth of realism, that meant in my view that we should have made it clear what we would be sacrificing in order to achieve each one of our key policies.

We appeared to the voter to be offering the same as the SNP, that stretched the credulity of the voter, they did not think that Labour could do it. I think we would have to respond to that by making it crystal clear what we would be sacrificing for instance to get our apprenticeship program or harsher penalties for knife crime.

 I think it is interesting because Labour members have said to me why should the voters have higher expectations of Labour than the SNP and I think that is partly because Labour is the leading party in Scotland in people’s minds but also that’s a positive for Labour in as much as they expect a higher level of integrity and I think we should have built on that as well.

The SNP picked up a spectacular number of votes in the West of Scotland, what do you think was going on there?

There are  two things to say there, first of all that people who are active in politics, playing close attention to politics will see an enormous chasm between Labour and the SNP from both sides but the voters do not always appreciate that and a lot of voters see Labour and SNP as having a lot of similarities and so it means that voters will quite easily switch and I think that again is something for parties to take into account in the future.

As for the particular issues in the Clydeside area, there are two things, first of all any movement of votes was magnified because of the non-voting.  It was the low turnout that magnified any changes in voting and this  turn out is an enormous issue for all parties but especially for Labour because it tends to punish Labour disproportionately and it is quite sobering that the turnout was only 30% in some areas.

Labour will have to process carefully the fact that the candidate is very important

The other aspect would be that the SNP are moulding quite a different message in different areas and the other  parties whether they be  Scottish Socialists or the Pensioners party have introduced people to not voting Labour.

So I think that in one sense Labour feel they can rebound quite well whether it be  the Inverclyde UK Parliamentary by-election  and recent North Ayrshire by-election in local Government . These have shown that you could draw some comfort from the fact that Labour can respond and  in both those instances that Labour will have to process carefully the fact that the candidate is very important and that if the voters see both Labour and the SNP as being quite similar then that puts a big onus on the selection of candidates.

How can Labour most effectively respond to the SNP?

They have the advantages and disadvantages of a massively centralised organisation which operates in a fairly stalinoid sort of sense so they have the advantage of total loyalty, total obedience but also have the disadvantages that come with that as well –  which may come to the fore in the next wee while  …and that is one thing about Labour’s policies. They have to have policies which try to show up potential divisions within the SNP  but much more importantly divisions between the SNP and what the people of Scotland really need.

we have to be looking at these big structural issues  and that may mean striking out in quite a different direction from the SNP

In terms of policies, I think that I mentioned earlier that the SNP is a populist party but, because we have not really had the depths of populism policies in the UK politics in recent decades, people do not automatically understand what that involves. And the key thing is avoiding difficult realities by a day to day tactical response to issues.

One thing that Labour have to learn is being crystal clear with voters about some of these difficult circumstances and how the SNP are unable to provide answers to them and that even includes the big macro-economic issues of overall expenditure but also includes things like the level of house building, which is currently at the level of 1931 –  that is we are completing housing at the rate we did at the depths of the depression.

That’s shocking!

That is a really shocking fact and we just have to find ways of addressing that which are quite honest with the electorate but which give some hope for the future. …and  we have to be looking at these big structural issues  and that may mean striking out in quite a different direction from the SNP.

It may mean for example, at quite a trivial level in terms of government spending, that you have to look at prescription charges, parking charges, whatever.. as a way of trying to maintain relevance around some of the bigger issues such as housing.

And the Council Tax as well?

The Council Tax again is another thing that is not going to be seriously discussed now for a few years but if we are going to have a discussion on how we fund local services in a serious way,  in my view, that will inevitably involve a local property tax.

You mean a departure from the current Council Tax system?

No, not necessarily, but it means something  fairly similar to what there is now.

The big issue, and the debate that has to be had – is a debate about land value tax and it has to be had imminently if it is going to happen at all. What has happened so far, is that Local Income Tax is a dead duck – only some politicians support it –  it is not feasible, it is not going to happen, so we have to return again either to a Council Tax adjusted to be more progressive or something more radical such as a Land Value Tax but we have to find a stable way of supporting Local Government spending.

Do you think that the SNP gained votes around the issue of opposition to the UK nuclear weapons system?

I would think that is a very small issue in electoral terms but relevant in the sense that the SNP have a broad spectrum of things to say to different voters and it will appeal to a certain type of voter but I do not think it was a major influence on voting in May. Fairly obviously, the only powerful influence it had was in West Dunbartonshire for local reasons and in so much as it was just about the only place where the Labour vote increased.

But it is difficult to measure across the country… 

The vote in West Dunbartonshire clearly was about local jobs but I see what you mean.

So when do you anticipate that the SNP will run into budgetary difficulties?

this election …. will not succumb so easily to being all about Alex Salmond

I presume it will start with the next budget because as I understand it they are going to have two helpings of cuts in one because they managed to agree with the Conservatives last year to postpone last years cuts to help the SNP through the Scottish election and now they will have to do the catch-up.

So the first big bite will be this time round but again the SNP will try to delay it beyond the Council elections. As to how successful they are with that we will have to see but they will be trying to lay traps for all the other parties.

Increasingly it looks as if the parties other than the SNP and Labour are being squeezed out. How do you think the political landscape may look like after the May election?

I think what you are going to see is increasingly, to all intents and purposes, a two party system in an electoral system geared to a multi-party system and I think that is going make some unpredictable issues – a lot will depend on how much the width of support they have can be preserved going into that election.

I think what will be interesting is that the pattern of 3 member and 4 member council wards for each local authority might be interesting because it might be systematically 2-1 in all the threes and 2-2 in all the fours, so if you have a lot of four member wards  it might be very equal between SNP and Labour. But if you have a preponderance of three member wards you might get a very disproportionate result.

the bulk of people who join the SNP do so only because of the independence issue

So I think it is going to be interesting and the SNP  have made it clear that they are going to make an enormous effort in Glasgow to try and seize, as they would see it, the Citadel of Labour and then therefore Labour will also be campaigning very hard in Glasgow.

How that will affect across the country is not so certain. My feeling is that having been intensively involved in the last elections, that the SNP will be able to field less activists than Labour and that will be an important factor as this election is going to be fought all the way across Scotland and will not succumb so easily to being all about Alex Salmond, although the SNP may wish to try and do that.

Clearly the greater part of the Scottish population do not want full independence, so what effect do you think the referendum will have?

I presume that the SNP will be trying to avoid all discussion of the referendum because they know it is a bad thing for them. Maybe what they will try and do is speak about some sort of middle issue of more powers for Scotland or whatever, and try to make the discussion about that , but they will be  trying to avoid it being in anyway about independence.

I think maintaining a reasonable level of Corporation Tax is part of a civilised society

At that point it may become a bit divisive within the SNP, because the bulk of people who join the SNP do so only because of the independence issue. So the premise might be that we will talk about it after the local elections.

I think that within COSLA it will become increasingly important because under the four plus party system, COSLA did not take strong positions on most things because it did not have that level of unity amongst the local authorities. That very unified nature of the SNP may start to rebound a bit in terms of COSLA because the SNP councillors in lock-step with Salmond, may be unable to make the face-saving deals with the LibDems and Conservatives that have covered the cracks in the relationship between Scottish and local government.

So it might end up that quite a lot of the decisions made in COSLA will be anti-SNP positions and with quite a lot of division between local and Scottish Government in the lead up to and in the aftermath of the 2012 elections.

Suppose the referendum ends up with the Scottish Government gaining the power to set Corporation tax – how do think that will pan out?

Well, if they do then I think the UK government may, well let’s say the Tories, will know exactly what they are doing.  So suppose the setting of Corporation tax is devolved to the Scottish Government and they carry out what they say they will do, which is to lower it fairly dramatically, then I think the UK Government may rebound by cutting Corporation tax in parts of England to a lower level and that will leave Scotland losing a lot of income and not gaining the extra business they had anticipated.

Obviously I am a Labour Party supporter and I think maintaining a reasonable level of Corporation Tax is part of a civilised society and we should be trying to ensure that it is reasonably level across the developed world,  we certainly do not want to see an auction of cutting Corporation Tax further and further to the benefit of international finance and to the detriment of our electorate.

Do you think that English inner city riots will come to Scotland?

One aspect which is different is that Educational Maintenance Allowances have been retained in Scotland and I do not think that anyone has processed what that means for poorer communities, and that is a genuine difference.

the idea that new communities in the UK are forming is something the SNP have not processed at all

I think for everything else, and it would be comic if it wasn’t so serious, that people thought that Scotland could not be prone to rioting – I think we could easily see similar things happening . I do not think that we would be immune from rioting. We have more trouble focussing around things like football matches, for example, so it might happen in a different way.

One of the things I found interesting about that was the vehemence in the SNP wishing to say it was English violence rather than UK rioting and one thing to me is that it showed a lack of awareness of the changing world, because quite a lot of the population in the UK do not regard themselves as English or Scottish so, for example, there will be quite large categories of people in census listed as “Black British” or whatever and the idea that new communities in the UK are forming is something the SNP have not processed at all.

I rather like the idea of “new communities”

It is a good development but a problematic one – people do not process long term trends very easily. They do not fully appreciate the changes that have happened in the UK in the last 25 years.  I think the UK is now an enormous magnet for people and is seen as a very positive model for people across the world.

I think that a modern reforming party has to really understand that and what it involves, I mean every year a couple of Aberdeens (in terms of numbers of people) come to stay in the UK and in Scotland, the UK Government is committed to targeting a much reduced migration. In fact its net migration has grown very much with a particular impact on Scottish cities and that brings challenges but it is also appreciating the change.

And what about the countryside?

The impact of change in Scotland’s towns has been profound. The decline in town centres in Scotland I believe has been about twice the UK average probably because of the higher costs of distribution. We need imaginative responses encouraging conversion of shops to much needed residential housing.  We probably need to accept a transformation of the retail sector on which so many jobs currently rely.

Barney Crockett was interviewed by Mike Martin on 30th August 2011.

Sep 302011
 

By Bob Smith.

Eence mair oor local “daily”
His cum up wi mair shite
“Is iss Scotland’s maist hated mannie?”
On their front page they did write

A cos a chiel stood his grun
An ti ridicule widna gie in
So some sneaky journalist buggers
Thocht the knife they wid stik in

A puckle fowk they wrote letters
An ti the editor fair pynted oot
They hid nae truck wi hatred
Ower the opposin o the AWPR route

Some 91% o us are supposed ti be
Agin Road Sense an their palaivers
Na Na, it’s 91% o five hunner an een
Faa’s opinion they did favour

Ti the P&J iss winna maitter
Iss wee bit slip o the quill
As lang as Wullie Walton bides hated
An thochts o Road Sense they are ill

The Daily Record an apology gied
Ti Neil Lennon an Celtic FC
Fer usin wirds like “hated”
Allied ti Rangers fecht wi HMRC

Noo jist fit is the difference
Fowk wid  hae the richt ti ask
“Hated” wis used in baith spiels
Yet only ae paper wis teen ti task

©Bob Smith “The Poetry Mannie” 2011
Image credit: © Axel Drosta | Dreamstime.com 

 

Sep 232011
 

Old Susannah looks back at the week that was. By Suzanne Kelly.

Old Susannah is enjoying a glass of ‘Hello… my name is Ingrid’ (a beautiful brew made with cloudberry) at Brewdog, and is reflecting on another busy week in the Deen.
There was the Periurban conference for one thing. This was announced last minute on the City’s website.
It was an international conference on how cities deal with land on the fringes of the urban areas. I guess people from around the world came to see how wonderfully Aberdeen treats Union Terrace Gardens, Tullos Hill, green space at Westhill and Cove, and Loirston Loch.

The two-day conference was opened by the pioneering champion of all things green: Kate Dean.

I sent in an application, and then found myself invited to the second day’s events. For some reason it seemed they didn’t want me on the first day. I heard lots of important speakers, most of whom said urban sprawl is a problem, and we must all use less resources and re-use what we can. Someone even said ‘planting trees is not a solution’ – Cllr HoMalone please take note.

We heard about city centres emptying out if there is too much urban sprawl, with shops closing and crime and social deprivation becoming a problem. I was just surprised no one from Aberdeen explained how our ‘improving’ Union Terrace Gardens into a car park, ‘cosmopolitan cafe’, the hoped-for monorail and building in the greenbelt were going to save the day. I would have loved to have heard it. 

One City Council official kept turning around in their seat to look at me; for some reason they almost looked worried I was there. Could it have been the ‘Save the Tullos Deer’ t-shirt I wore under my suit jacket?

Someone was there from a local green charity, and somehow I brought up the deer cull situation (my t-shirt might have helped). The person had no idea why the Scottish SPCA was against the cull and what the other issues were. I happily explained.

Elsewhere in the Deen, someone has decided to leave a cat in a wheelie bin. Perhaps they want as much media attention as the woman from Coventry got? You may remember Mary Bale who cruelly left a cat in a bin for hours on end and was caught out. Let’s see if we can’t find the Aberdeen copycat cat botherer and do for them what the press did for Bale.

It would likewise be a shame if shamed Banff Brothers David and Colin Reid of 22 Boyndie Street West, Banff, got any bad press for their dogfighting activity conviction and jail sentences.

This is the Scottish SPCA’s first major dogfighting conviction in Aberdeenshire (where officials denied there was a problem, you may recall), and it is cause for celebration.  The Reids must know something about other dog fighters – let’s hope they roll over.  Thankfully, some of the dogs they were abusing have been rescued.

But anyway, here I am in Brewdog wondering what to write about this week.

I am looking at a recent Press & Journal headline which screams in giant letters: ‘IS THIS THE MOST HATED MAN IN SCOTLAND?‘ As I am always happy to follow where the P&J leads, so let’s skip definitions this week and take a look at the most hated man in Scotland instead. 

Imagine one man using the legal system to the maximum for his own self-interested ends. Imagine him standing alone, unwilling to listen to the thousands of people who want him to abandon the battle.

Imagine for a minute how much taxpayer money and court time he is willing to use up.

Yes, Mr Milne may well be the most hated man in Scotland. For openers there is the legal battle which he’s taking all the way to the highest court in the UK. For those who don’t know, Milne bought land from the City Council – 11 acres in Westhill – for some £335,000. (By the way, who do the rest of us have to know to get deals like that? Jane – can you help?). The land is worth millions.

Apparently Milne agreed with the City to pay a portion of any sale/rental profit to the City. In a really sharp, not at all transparent move, the land was sold from one arm of the vast Milne empire to another Milne company. As you’d expect, such a deal cost over £500,000 to do. Or so Milne claims when his companies say there was no profit left after the sale.  Seems pretty clear to me.

Yes, Milne is appealing (but not to most of us).

You’d have thought that our very generous Council wouldn’t go bothering Stew for a mere 1.7 million pounds (goodness knows the City can waste that much with ease), but it seems the City will be trying to claw back the money.

The courts found in the City’s favour – but Milne would rather drag us on through the legal system and cost the taxpayer more money than shell out.

Yes, Milne is appealing (but not to most of us). Of course if you weigh this against all the associated costs, then there probably won’t be much financial gain. Here’s a clever idea: let’s stop selling our assets at less money than they are worth. Who knows?  We might wind up less than the £50 million in debt we currently are.  But back to Milne.

We come to the subject of the once-beautiful game. Someone’s decided it’s much better to do land deals than try and win matches.

Milne will develop Pittodrie (which could have been rennovated – this has been done elsewhere in the UK) and build in the greenbelt well out of town.  Loirston Loch will be greatly improved by the new stadium. What the remaining wildlife will make of the lack of land, the cars, the additional pollution and inevitable trash is another matter.

I wonder what it’s like to be less popular than the Donald? Will the Dons become the Donalds?

The bottom line is the stadium will glow in the dark (!) and we can have Elton John and Rod Stewart concerts!. (Who cares that two BBC stories this week prove another link between ill health and car exhaust fumes, and Scotland’s wildlife continues to diminish?)

You would have thought that AFC fans would be jumping for joy at the chance to drive/bus/walk to Loirston. Instead, many of them want Milne to jump ship. Things are so desperate that some fans are actively inviting Donald Trump to invest in the club.  Ouch.

I wonder what it’s like to be less popular than the Donald? Will the Dons become the Donalds? Mr Milne might want to stay away from Facebook or AFC fan sites for a wee while, where there is just a hint of dissatisfaction. Such ingratitude – and after all he’s done to us. Sorry – I mean ‘for us’.

Stew’s not very popular in the city centre either. In his proposal for Triple Kirks, he’s promised us more office buildings. Result!

So who’d have thought that putting two glass box buildings next to the Triple Kirk spire (and probably chasing those pesky peregrine falcons away in the process) could make you unpopular? There will be office space – and who wants anything more than more office space?

I’m afraid to say Mr Milne is now as popular with golfers as fox-batterer Forbes would be at an animal rights meeting.

The only problem is parking (not that that is hindering him developing Pittodrie or in creating the stadium – neither has adequate parking in their plans). Where on earth will Stew find any parking solutions close to Triple Kirks? If only there was some empty, under-used space nearby – maybe something that ‘only has grass’ in it. He could have car parking, the offices would go ahead without a hitch, he’d rake in some money.

People would be amazingly grateful: we would get parking, shopping and ‘cosmopolitan cafes’ – where we can sit and drink coffee year round and be, er, cosmopolitan. If only Stew or his pal Ian could think of some solution to the problem, it would mean more money for Milne. There are some people who think the consultation should have been handled by the city with a lengthy consultation, and that the listed status of Triple Kirks carried a bit of weight.  These people were of course wrong.

And let’s face it: Milne could be low on cash.  Am I alone in thinking he’s short?  He’s chasing a mere 1.7 million through the courts (when he’s supposedly worth about 60 million). He’s about to lay off workers up and down Scotland – he says he can’t afford them.

Perhaps he expanded a bit too quickly? Perhaps he thought new building would continue for ever? Well – with our City Council it just might.

It seems a little ironic that the City is giving Milne contracts (some recent ones total over ten million) while he is both dragging the city through the courts and firing Aberdonians in the building trade. But the people who are in charge know best. 

For reasons of space, I’ll limit this to just one more aspect of the man’s popularity. I’m afraid to say Mr Milne is now as popular with golfers as fox-batterer Forbes would be at an animal rights meeting. It seems that the Portlethen community council and those who use Portlethen Golf Club are up in arms over Milne’s plans to build 153 houses so close to the course that there may be a few problems. Safe to say, people are teed off.

There you have it. The Press & Journal had their own front-page suggestion for ‘the most hated man in Scotland.’ Some of us have a different candidate for that title.

Last word: City Council employees: stop criticising your wonderful employers and managers on the Intranet. First: they don’t like it and are drafting all kinds of means to stop your free speech. Second: that’s my job. I understand they may participate in a 24-hour ‘tweeting’ session to say what excellent services they’ve got going. You are cordially uninvited to tweet back.

Sep 142011
 

Scotland’s Parliament is gearing up for a special screening of the award-winning documentary You’ve Been Trumped today, but First Minister Alex Salmond has declined an invitation to attend, sighting ‘long standing ministerial commitments’. 

Also absent from the Holyrood event will be Scotland’s Finance Secretary John Swinney MSP.  In a statement, Mr Swinney’s office said he was unable to attend due to ‘prior commitments’.  Mr Salmond has previously declined invitations to several presentations of the film across Scotland, including the green-carpet premiere in Aberdeen and subsequent screenings in Edinburgh and Glasgow.

 Scotland’s Government was responsible for giving Donald Trump’s controversial golf development the go-ahead at the Menie Estate in Aberdeenshire.

However, a number of high profile politicians and key environmental figures have booked places for this evening’s jam-packed Edinburgh screening, including Patrick Harvie MSP (Scottish Green Party Co-Convenor) Stan Blackley, Chief Executive, Friends of the Earth Scotland and geomorphologist Dr Jim Hansom, University of Glasgow (who gave evidence to the Scottish Government inquiry on the Trump development on behalf of Scottish Natural Heritage).

Also present will be Menie Estate resident David Milne whose home overlooks Mr Trump’s resort.  Mr Milne said:

“It’s very important to bring this film to Parliament to emphasise to those who make the laws that it’s not abstract. It’s all about living, breathing, people who have a right to live unharrassed in their own homes, in a landscape that should never have been touched.”

Also watching the documentary unspool will be academics, golf writers and legal experts including Frances McCartney, whose client, 87 year old widow Molly Forbes, has been threatened with eviction and a legal bill of up to £50,000 by US billionaire Donald Trump.

Mr Trump’s office in New York has yet to respond to a personal invitation to the event.

Meanwhile politicians who have not booked their place are being urged to do so by Bob Ward, Policy and Communications Director at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at London School of Economics and Political Science who recently saw You’ve Been Trumped in London.   Mr Ward describes the tycoon’s efforts to build a golf resort on Site of Special Scientific Interest as ruthless in an article for The Guardian.

Director Anthony Baxter who will also be at the screening said, “We wanted to make it as easy as possible for Scotland’s decision-makers to see the film.  We await to see if any other members of the Government will attend today’s screening, to comment on what an international film jury recently described as:

“one of the worst environmental crimes in recent UK history.”

Today’s screening at the Scottish Parliament is being staged by the Take One Action Film Festival.