Nov 202012

A fundraising event to support local activist Renee Slater in her forthcoming court case will be held on Thursday 29 November at Sopranos Bistro in Aberdeen’s Guild Street. With thanks to Friends of Helena Torry.

In the 2012 Aberdeen council elections, a candidate named Helena Torry was put forward by her agent, Renee Slater.

Nothing unusual in that, you might think, until you discover Helena is a dummy.

Not your usual political dummy, we hasten to add, but an actual shop mannequin!

Local activist Renee told Aberdeen Voice:

“Putting Helena forward for election was an act of political satire. I was trying to make a serious political point in a humorous way.

“During my campaign on Helena’s behalf, I tried to bring to the fore the point of view of a silent majority of Aberdonians.

“It was a direct response to what I saw as an under-representation of certain issues in the manifestos of the main political parties, particularly the closure of social centres for disabled people and cutbacks in community and youth work budgets.”

The council’s somewhat cack-handed response to the appearance of Helena as a candidate was to report 63-year-old Renee to the police. She was subsequently arrested and charged under Section 65 part 2A of the 1983 Representation of the People Act, then released to appear in court later.

Denied legal aid, Renee faces a court battle to clear her name in January 2013, not only having to foot her own legal costs but also facing the possibility of a substantial fine.

Fundraiser organisers Friends of Helena Torry is a group of local residents alarmed and disappointed at the council’s heavy-handed reaction to what is clearly a harmless act of political dissent, a type of political satire with a long and entertaining history.

Animals, inanimate objects and historical figures have been nominated for public office many times. Notable examples are American activist Michael Moore’s nomination of a ficus plant for congress and even Caligula’s horse (which apparently won) once featured in an electoral race. Even In the most recent U.S. presidential elections, the long-deceased Charles Darwin received around 4000 votes.

Friends of Helena Torry believe political dissent has an important role in a true democracy and should not be criminalised. Local authorities must respond to criticism in a morally acceptable way and should strive to act upon those criticisms in the interests of the public it serves.

One might think the police have more than enough to cope with as it is, that a court system under increasing strain must have more important matters to attend to than a piece of harmless satire, particularly one that actually brought a smile to a great many faces, not just in Aberdeen but around the globe.

Everyone is invited along to the evening. The fun kicks off at 7pm and will include live music from local bands and a raffle, so please come along and support Renee and join the campaign to free mannequin Helena (languishing in police custody to this day).

You can also donate or buy a T-Shirt or badge from the website:

All proceeds from the evening go towards Renee’s legal costs. Any surplus will be donated to a charity of Renee’s choice.

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Oct 112012

With thanks to Anthony Baxter.

Award winning documentary film You’ve Been Trumped, branded a “failure” by Donald Trump, has been scheduled for prime time television.

The filmmaker who was put in jail by Scottish police and had hours of footage impounded while making a documentary about the environmental and human toll of Donald Trump’s luxury golf course development north of Aberdeen, will see his feature length documentary shown across the UK on BBC Two and BBC HD on October 21 at 10pm.

“After all that we have gone through I can’t quite believe its happening,” says Anthony Baxter, director of You’ve Been Trumped“It’s been an amazing journey.”

Baxter and his Producer Richard Phinney faced criminal charges when Grampian police arrested them  and confiscated their camera equipment after Baxter interviewed Donald Trump’s green keeper about the cutting off of water supplies to local residents, including an 86 year old woman.

The National Union of Journalists backed the filmmakers and called the arrest of Baxter a “violent” and “blatant example of police interference aimed at stopping bona fide journalists from doing their job.”  The charges were finally dropped and an apology made by Grampian police following an internal investigation.

You’ve Been Trumped tells the story of the extraordinary confrontation between the tycoon Donald Trump and a proud and  tightly knit community of Scottish residents, following the controversial approval of the Trump development by the Scottish Government of First Minister Alex Salmond.

The Trump golf course has been built on a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) after the Scottish Government decided the ‘economic benefits outweighed any environmental concerns.’

Baxter, who was initially turned down for production funding by broadcasters and Scottish cultural agencies, shot, directed and edited the documentary, and raised money on the internet to finish the film.  Since then, You’ve Been Trumped has won 10 awards; played in 17 countries; been translated into Chinese, Romanian, Finnish, Czech, Polish and Greek;  and has found its way into classrooms in Scotland, Canada and Italy.

  Rarely does a film do such a masterful job of taking one small place to reveal how the world works

Though Donald Trump has called the film “a failure” You’ve Been Trumped has received widespread critical acclaim.  Michael Moore said he was “blown away by the film” and invited it to his Traverse City Film Festival where it won the Special Jury Prize.

Alec Baldwin, the Chairman of the Hamptons International Film Festival in New York, awarded the film the prestigious Victor Rabinowitz Social Justice Award, named after one of America’s leading civil rights lawyers.

Speaking from New York after hearing of the BBC Two transmission, Mr Baldwin said,

“Anthony Baxter’s You’ve Been Trumped is my favorite kind of documentary.  Comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable.  I encourage anyone to see this film.”

Meanwhile, Bill Moyers, the legendary American broadcaster, who devoted much of a recent addition of his PBS show Moyers & Company to the film added,

“Rarely does a film do such a masterful job of taking one small place to reveal how the world works. By putting a face on the One Percent – and the face of Donald Trump, at that – Anthony Baxter has given us an unforgettable portrait of capitalism run amok at the expense of the 99.  It’s a remarkable, revealing and very moving and important film.  Don’t miss it!”

In August, Occupy Wall Street projected the film on the side of Trump Tower in New York City, saying in a statement that Mr Trump was the ‘ultimate one-percenter’ and called for the billionaire to be held accountable for his ‘environmental crimes’ in Scotland.’

While You’ve Been Trumped was widely released in Scotland, playing in 15 towns and cities, including sold out showings in Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh and Glasgow, the BBC Two broadcast on October 21 will be the best chance for many in the rest of the United Kingdom to see the film.

“As the response to You’ve Been Trumped around the world shows, this is not just a Scottish story,” said Baxter.

“The land sacrificed for this development was part of Britain’s natural heritage, and I believe the issues raised in the film are critically important to environmental and planning debates across the UK.  I would like to thank the BBC for recognising the film needed to reach a broader public.”

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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…

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.

Oct 072011

By Bob Smith.

Hark the “Sunday Herald”  did sing
An ti us aa the news did bring
Trump  he wintit oor cops ti be
Jist like the lot in the NYPD

Donald he cam fae oot the sky
An ti oor bobbies wint in bye
Askin they aa did his biddin
Fowks the mannie wisna kiddin!!

Fit dis the silly bugger fear
Molly Forbes in combat gear?
Maybe David Milne wi bows an arras
Dis Susan Munro train “Suicide sparras” ?

The tap bobbies noo they warna convinced
Bein accused o bias they maybe sensed
Bi drappin aathing at Trumpie’s request
Yet twa filmin chiels they did arrest

Aberdeenshire Cooncil think Donald’s a god
An were maybe happy that PC Plod
Wid flee aroon at Trumpie’s biddin
Checkin fit’s happenin at “Michael’s Midden”

Faa’s tellin the truth aboot the windfairm
Did Scottish Government agree nae ti hairm
The bonnie view fae Donald’s mansion
An turbine plans they winna sanction

The fowk faa work in MacLeod Hoose
Are feart that vandals are on the loose
Wull Dod Sorial an aa Trump’s posers
Be shoutin “Donald Faar’s Yer Rozzers?”

©Bob Smith “The Poetry Mannie” 2011
Picture Credit:  © Daniel Wiedemann |