Mar 282019
 

Suzanne Kelly asks a rather obvious question which seems to have gone unnoticed:  If President Trump is not supposed to be involved with his former business interests while in office, then what is the TIGLS spokeswoman’s husband doing posing at the White House and with Air Force One? 

With Aberdeenshire Council soon to vote on whether or not to approve the latest amended plans for Trump International Golf Links Scotland – is Trump breaking strict American emoluments laws? 

A social media account raises the question.

Upon becoming president, Donald Trump had to resign from several Trump business ventures, including Trump International Golf Links Scotland. 

Sarah Malone Bates is the spokeswoman for the controversial venture; her husband is Damian Bates, former Aberdeen Journals Limited executive and editor with responsibilities at the Evening Express and Press and Journal.

On April 17, 2018 Mr Bates posted photos of himself in front of Air Force One and The White House.  What exactly was he doing there?  Even his friends wanted to know, with one asking ‘What are you up to??’

Damian replied ‘Ssshhh.’

Another friend replied ‘Some of us know – but Mums [sic] the word Shssh.’

Click on Image to enlarge.

Together with George A Sorial, the lawyer responsible for ensuring compliance by Mr Trump with the relevant emoluments clauses, Mr Bates is penning a book about how Mr Trump ‘won’ in Scotland. The book is due out 11 June.

Aberdeen Voice contacted Mr Sorial, but has not yet had a reply as to the potential for overlap between a Trump employee’s spouse being chosen to co-author a biography and being at Air Force One and the White House. 

Any reply received will be published in full.

The Press & Journal and sister paper The Evening Express under Bates’ management decreed it would not print any material from the protest group Tripping up Trump, declaring the group was not ‘bona fide’. The group is made up of residents of the Menie Estate, people in Aberdeen City and Shire, and has members further afield. 

Aberdeen Journals also failed to disclose the relationship between Damian Bates and Trump spokeswoman Sarah Malone to readership of the Evening Express and Press & Journal. 

Aberdeen Voice broke the story that the two were married while the paper printed favourable articles about Trump International Golf Links Scotland without disclosing this fact.

The Press & Journal also published a column by Mr Trump while he was running for office.

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Nov 252016
 

As the Aberdeen Press & Journal gets into the festive spirit by announcing on its front cover today that ‘there ain’t no sanity clause’ and it’s dangerous to encourage children to believe in him, Old Susannah aka Suzanne Kelly marvels at Damian Bate’s organ yet again, and how it has seized the spirit of good will with its attack on Father Christmas.

DictionaryAt this time of year, it’s important to realise how lucky we are, and to think of those who are less fortunate, who suffer, who are abused.

Imagine spending your days in a no-hope situation. A tyrant forces you to do things against your better nature. You are humiliated on a daily basis, and people openly laugh at what you are doing.

Let’s take a moment then and pause. We have our problems. We might have money and health worries. It’s freezing cold.

But at least we don’t have to write for the Press & Journal and Evening Express under Damian Bates and Sarah Malone Bates.

Some poor soul had to write the infamous ‘TRAITORS!’ article back in the early days of Trump’s planning campaign depicting councillors who dared to vote against the unprecedented Trump golf plans.

Some idealistic young thing who years ago dreamed of a career in journalism now takes orders to write articles praising Damian’s wife’s forays into running a 5 star resort (or is that 6 diamonds – as Turnip awarded himself a few years back?). Imagine the overpriced coffee, the clunky ‘temporary’ clubhouse where the invented ‘Trump family crest’* asserts itself on every piece of furniture, paper serviette and presumably loo roll too.

And you have to submit copy saying it’s fabulous.

While you are instructed to write yet another review of MacLeod House and its beautiful concrete fountain, all around you local writers are firing off Freedom of Information requests, digging into Companies House files, and uncovering stories which actually constitute investigative journalism while you try to find 250 words about why the chicken supreme is worth £40 per head, all the while ignoring the giant plaque staring at you through the clubhouse windows proclaiming that you are on the world’s largest sand dune system.

You might like to say something about this being a blatantly untrue fabrication – but you don’t really dare to do so.

At least you get paid for it. Rather like those girls around the harbour. At least they don’t have to put their name to their handiwork. And quite understandably, many of the AJL articles go without anyone claiming a byline.

santa-with-traumatised-children-creepy-santa-comAnd now this week one of you was handed an arcane, clearly deliberately provocative piece from two academics who believe perpetuating the Santa Claus fable is akin to child abuse. ‘Give me a front page story on Bad Santa’ Damian or one of his minions told you.

And you did it, didn’t you?

Did you care this angle has been done before? Was what you were going to bring to the argument so brilliant you didn’t care? Maybe you were happy to get away from Trump for a little, or you were happy to try and forget the real news stories in our area that a reporter would want to cover – Marischal Square and its genesis, who is linked to who in the curious companies Sir Ian Wood and others still keep afloat even though (theoretically) the Union Terrace Gardens parking lot scheme (for that was all it really was) is dead in the water.

Maybe you don’t want to think about the fact your newspaper (for lack of a better word) will soon need to metaphorically tug its forelock at the city council: what other newspaper would even remotely consider taking a free rent from a city council? Can you even keep track of the number of city council stories and dealings that should have been investigated by the local printed press?

No, you are now going to Google elves, Santa, and present your findings on the new throwaway theory Santa is Bad Santa. Someone else is going to look into Muse, Trump, Inspired, fraud inside the council, etc. etc. But not you or your fellow Aberdeen Journals writers.

And Result! Good for you!

The Facebook P&J page has hundreds of hits on this story. Of course most of them are ridiculing the fact your boss put this on the paper’s front cover, and some are angry that young children will see this and dissolve into tears – thus spoiling photoshoots for your next ‘adorable tot’ competition. Hits matter on Facebook to your boss – even if the paper is not exactly flying off the shelf. You may well put this into your cuttings book – another front page story for you.

At least it beats the brains out of having to type for the umpteenth time ‘breathe fresh life into the beating heart of the city’ and such. How do you breathe into a heart anyway?  How fast can you as an Evening Express reporter type the phrase ‘vibrant and dynamic?’ Do they pay you for the word much as some other professionals are paid by the hour?  I’ve always wondered.

Maybe someday they’ll give a Pulitzer for incisive, pithy front page stories about the Tooth Fairy’s negative psychological impact on children. Perhaps that brilliant headline your paper used when a young man was missing ‘search called off due to unforeseen circumstances’ about a no-show psychic should have received more acclaim – how the family must have laughed! But not today.

Just maybe your Father Christmas article will lead to bigger and better – there is no shortage of crackpot experts with degrees who write ridiculous papers to get noticed – not that the attack on the Santa belief wasn’t a serious, scholarly work. You’ll find them – or Damian will find them and tell you to write up an op ed. Can a piece about the Loch Ness Monster be that far off now? I guess we all aspire to something.

perhaps time for you to pick up an actual newspaper and see what other writers are doing

So, many of us who contribute to Aberdeen Voice will keep doing the work you’re too busy to do. We’ll keep revealing that despite Trump’s declarations to the contrary, he was definitely seeking compulsory purchase orders against his neighbours. That was an AV scoop, and it doesn’t seem you picked up on that.

Guess it didn’t have the gravitas a piece on the Easter Bunny will do when you write it.

We revealed the literally cozy relationship between the P&J and Trump International Golf Links Scotland. We found out how much money from the public purse was spent promoting the risible UTG project. Did you like looking at those lurid images of the ridiculous ramps arching over an impossible landscape of trees and open air theatre month after month?

You’ve gone all out to help the council (usually).  Remember the Evening Express story designed to lend creedence to the city’s plans for killing the Tullos Hill Deer?  The deer were going to be killed to plant trees on Tullos despite public outcry to just leave the hill, wildflower meadow and deer alone.  The trees aren’t growing, but the deer are dead.  Your paper helpfully announced ‘Two Deer Found Dead Ahead of Cull’ – implying the poor creatures needed to be culled for their own good.  Then I found out it was fully two years before the cull was proposed that the deer were found dead of unknown cause.  Your paper never did cover my story that deer had clearly been slaughtered in the Gramps – severed limbs were found.  The preposterous claim Ranger Talboys made was that the deer must have been killed somewhere else, then the poachers marched up two different hills to deposit the limbs.  I guess there wasn’t room for any of this as well as another review of MacLeod House.  The ‘cost-neutral’ tree scheme Peter Leonard of ACC forced on the taxpayer has now cost a five-figure sum – obviously that’s not newsworthy to Damian.

As I write, it’s nearly 6pm – knocking off time for you, or perhaps time for you to pick up an actual newspaper and see what other writers are doing. Does it bother you to read Monbiot, Rob Edwards, people who care about corruption, the environment, the threat Trump poses to world stability – or are you genuinely content writing about the latest P&J sponsored award show held at the AECC and who won a golden cabbage or whatever it is given out that helps generate advertising revenue and PR for your stable of publications?

From the rest of us, we feel sorry for you. It’s not news you’re writing. It’s not investigative journalism your paper offers as a norm. You are sucking up to your advertisers (remember when a certain diminutive housebuilder reportedly threatened to pull his advertising if you ever wrote a critical piece on him again? I do). The press should serve as a check and balance on the council; in the P&J’s case, the council’s cheques for ads total £200,000 a year, and press you into service.

Adios to ideals; to dreams of reporting and investigating, or choosing what stories to follow. The rest of us feel your shame, and we pity you. This has taken enough of your time though, and you will likely have a beautiful tot or beautiful bride layout to work on.

Some of us managed to believe (or half believe) the Santa Claus/Father Christmas mythology without it turning us into megalomaniacal would-be fascist dictators, preening newspaper editors whose Facebook page consists of a series of selfies and little else, or a woman in a job over her head who will do anything for money, however much that means swallowing racism, sexism and nationalism – just hypothetical examples of personality disorders, mind you.

I am very thankful. Thankful I am never going to work for you or those you serve.

STOP PRESS:  Be sure to take your children to Santa’s Grotto at the Trump International Golf Links Scotland; if you’re going to scar the offspring for life, do it somewhere where they know about great big men with odd hair promising lots of gifts to people who do what they are told to do (even if those gifts never materialise). A tenner a tyke.

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Nov 082016
 

Farmer Forbes Receives Worldwide Support Against Trump

Aberdeenshire farmer Michael Forbes, his wife Sheila, and his mother Molly have become a focal point for those opposing Trump’s plans for creating a golf complex over the shifting sand dunes of Menie on the Aberdeenshire coast.  Trump has called their home a ‘pigsty.’  Letters of support flowed in from around the world to the farmer supporting his brave stance against the billionaire. 

post-1When Anthony Baxter and Richard Phinney came to the Menie Estate to film their first documentary about the mogul’s presence and practices, they created the award-winning documentary, ‘You’ve Been Trumped’.  During the course of filming, Trump’s construction crew ‘accidentally’ shattered the water pipe bringing water to the Forbes’ property. 

For one week, the Forbes remained without water, so the filmmakers went to the Trump site office to ask when the water would be restored. 

The family had been taking water in buckets from a nearby spring or burn in which to cook, bathe and clean.  The response of the site manager was to tell Anthony to ‘be a jewel of a system’ and the water would be restored to be the ‘best’. 

Hours after that exchange, Baxter and Phinney became the first journalists ever to be arrested in Scotland while working on a story.  Sarah Malone-Bates, the Trump spokeswoman coincidentally married to local newspaper editor Damian Bates, recently confirmed that the Trump organisation called the police to make that arrest- and the police dutifully complied.  The duo was later released without charge and the NUJ condemned the arrests.

Despite the verbal promise Trump failed to do anything about the water:  for five long years.  The Forbes family relied on water from that burn, on bottled water, on rain water.  Imagine 5 years without running water in 21st century Scotland.  This is covered in Baxter’s newest documentary, ‘You’ve Been Trumped Too.’ The police were keen to arrest the journalists and harass Mr Forbes over issues of access across land, and were going to charge him for theft when he removed Trump marker flags worth £11 which appeared with no explanation in property he believes to be his. The police failed to take any action about the pipe the Trump organisation broke, as did Aberdeenshire Council, which waived through over a dozen planning breaches the Trump organisation made granting ex post facto planning permission. 

Sheila and Michael Forbes no access to sea no reliable water no help comingOnly recently, Michael Forbes restored the water himself, sparing his 90-something-year-old mother the work of filling water bucket from a stream. 

Virtually none of this is reported in local paper The Press & Journal, while there are articles praising Trump’s restaurant and facilities; the marriage of Bates and Malone is seen to influence the editorial policy.

The paper went so far as to give the POTUS hopeful an ‘exclusive’ column in which he boasted of having won over the Scottish people.  The bags of post arriving in support of the Forbes family tells a different story.

If you can conclude from this tale of Trump’s behaviour in rural Scotland that his promises are hollow, that he seeks to intimidate those less fortunate than he, and that he can influence how the powers that be protect the weak, you are not alone.  For the Forbes family received letters from around the world following the release of ‘You’ve Been Trumped.’

Sheila Forbes said she is happy for the contents of these letters to be shared.  “People have been very kind, and we never received a ‘bad’ letter.”  The Forbes family wish they could answer all of the letters, but they have truly been inundated.  The whole family is overwhelmed by how kind and supportive people have been.

The letters come from every corner of the world; some are addressed to ‘Michael Forbes who stops Trump near Aberdeen’ (Germany).  One is addressed to ‘Michael Forbes, coast of Aberdeenshire, adjacent to Trump Golf Fantasy’ (Australia) to ‘Michael Forbes behind the dunes, Aberdeen’ (Germany).  Although many lack postal codes or correct addresses they all find the Forbes family.  Michael once asked the postman how he knows to bring the letters to him and was told ‘Well, who else could they be for?’

post-2If the show of hatred and intolerance which seeped out of the Trump rallies has dampened anyone’s spirits, these letters affirm that there are still many thoughtful people who take time to show support and offer help to others.  One gentleman from Worcester, Massachusetts generously sent a cheque for $100. 

None of the cheques or cash received has ever been spent to date. 

These kind-hearted correspondents have had much to say.  Here are some quotes:

“… congratulate you on standing firm against the arrogance of Donald Trump.  We wish you well!  … You are right to protect your land and that of your forefathers.” (Wiltshire)

“So many golf courses all over this earth especially in poor countries for the rich play and the poor starve.  I wish you well and that the strong heart and spirit of Scotland still lives.” (Wales)

“I applaud you for not wanting to sell your land to Trump, he’s not ‘king of the castle’ just because he has the money does not give him the right to demand and have things given to him on a silver spoon.” (Illinois)

“Mr Forbes, too many people give up their principles for money.  I truly admire you for standing your ground.  Congratulations for taking on the giant.” (Massachusetts)

“[if] the Councillors are only able to see all the wonderful income the shire is going to get from ‘The  World’s Greatest Golf Development’, I think they may be in for an awful surprise.” (Las Vegas)

– and so it has transpired, with the club posting losses of millions year after year, and only 95 jobs of the promised 6,000 having materialised.

“The only one that will look silly in the end is Trump” (Warwickshire).

-Let’s hope so.

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Jan 212016
 

DictionaryBy Suzanne Kelly.

The highly stylish, smart, successful, forward-looking breakfast nook Chez Bates had known some happy times. Days when the sound of laughter and dozens of designer shopping bags crinkled as they were brought into the house. Things seemed a bit colder this winter. Recent events were not helping.

Princess Bates daintily spread low-calorie margarine on her low-calorie rice cracker.

At the other end of the table, Master Bates lazily ate a full Scottish breakfast while reading the lastest Evening Express.

But even the exciting story ‘Ghost Found in Photograph Drunks Took in front of Restaurant’ headline wasn’t cheering him up.

He thumbed through pages of riveting news stories in the papers he edited – ‘Shopping Trolley Stolen’, ‘Cold Weather Expected in January’ and ‘Pope is Catholic Shock’ and then came to the ‘Beautiful Bride’ competition page. The latest brides smiled up at him. How long ago his own wedding to the most beautiful girl in the world seemed somehow. A long, long time ago.

There was their photo, sitting on the mantelpiece. How wonderful their afternoon was on the Northern Belle; and the photo of them sitting together smiling for the P&J cameras was even available for people to buy for their own homes.

“Share the happiness!” he thought, “and make some money out of it as well, particularly if she keeps spending everything I make on clothes, shoes you can’t walk in, and beauty treatments”

The recent prang with his Maserati had made him reassess what was important, and perhaps it was time to rein her spending in a bit. There was this Lotus up for sale which would be perfect for driving to work in Maastrick in.

The Princess was not smiling. It had been a hard week. Film and news crews crossed Trump International Golf Links Scotland’s parking lot to access the dunes. Phonecalls even came in. Suzanne Kelly had the audacity not only to suggest Donald was somehow a mean guy, but also to ask Trump Golf to restore Michael Forbes’ fishing rights and take down the big pile of earth which was called a bund from in front of the Munro cottage. All the terminology Sarah had needed to learn!  A bund was a big pile of earth.  A bung was a big envelope of money.  It was easy to get confused.  She did remember though that Mr T and Georgie Sorial had told her that any compromise was a sign of weakness.

It was her duty to be every bit as strong and smart as Donald was always telling the world he was. She had also been asked to be in a live debate with Kelly, but Mrs Bates was not taking the bait. Talking about the wonderful course she knew so much about would have been easy of course. But all this other stuff about the UK’s Public Order act, laws, hate speech and petitions was so confusing.

What did it matter anyway? After all, Donald was pumping hundreds of millions of pounds into a grateful Scotland. Why couldn’t they just leave him in peace so he could be president and get rid of all those nasty Muslims, Mexicans, handicapped people, women who weren’t pretty and other awful people? Who cared about Muslims when there was money to be made? She just didn’t understand what was wrong with other people’s values.

The rice cracker snapped under the pressure of her knife as she thought of these things. Master Bates peeked from behind his newspaper, hoping it would be a good time to broach a difficult subject.

“Darling, I think we should talk”

“Yes, I do need another pair of kitten heels, you’re right – I’ll go shopping tonight.”
 
“Well, uh, yes, of course – but something else too. This, this – statement that you put out.”
 
“Brilliant isn’t it? I sure showed that dreadful Suzanne Kelly, didn’t I dear. It’s been in a few papers, doubtless more will pick it up.”
 
“Well, yes, about that. I’m not so sure we’re going to run it”
 
“WHAT DO YOU MEAN!!!?”
 
“Well, dear, you know I love you; you’re absolutely beautiful-“
 
“yes, of course I am – what’s wrong with my statement!?”
 
“Just a few little points my buttercup; nothing major, we just need to maybe leave some of it out. you’ve got this bit here complaining that ‘valuable Parliament time was wasted.”
 
“I like that bit. Georgie thought that up. In fact, he thought up a lot of it, which was good because I was busy – we’re getting new curtains.”
 
“Well, it’s just that we don’t want people to start to think about how Mr T has taken up a huge chunk of Holyrood money and taxpayer money, and tied up the courts trying to stop those offshore windfarms.”
 
“Well, that’s different. They were going to be ugly. And golfers doing golf would have been, y’know, distracted.”
 
“My dearest Sarah, of course, of course I agree – but we’re talking hundreds of hours in courts, legal fees, Holyrood time, and an untold sum of taxpayer money on an appeal which so far has stopped an experimental windfarm project which meant clean energy and energy sector jobs, which Aberdeen needs.”
 
“What Aberdeen – and Scotland needs – is the class that Donald Trump brings, and all those thousands of jobs we’re going to make. Any day now. If there are no offshore windfarms. Or anything else Donald doesn’t like.”
 
“Sarah my sweet I so agree and understand, it’s just that some folks facing unemployment in the energy sector are thinking of making their next career in renewables, and would prefer engineering to toilet cleaning and bussing tables.”
 
“We’ve got crests. Trump family crests. Did you see them last time? We’ve got lovely crests with a double headed bird thing. It’s very classy. And pretty. What unemployed person wouldn’t want to live in an on-site staff block and do laundry or serve drinks?”
 
“Unemployment… yes, that’s something that I’ve been thinking about for a while….” but he rallied:

“I hate to mention it, but I think we should forget you making any comments about DT’s freedom of speech being attacked.”

“Why ever not?  And do you think this shade of lipstick clashes with my Chanel?”

“Er, you look fine honey.  How can I put this – Donald’s people here in Scotland fired that cook you had had at the clubhouse because of a picture on his personal Facebook page.”

“Well, it was disgusting!  It was obscene!  It was a shortbread that looked.. that looked – oh my like a man’s private parts!”

“Well,” said Damian, thinking the allegedly offensive piece of shortbread looked like a blob and nothing more, “Some people might think it was hypocritical – that means unfair” he added hastily, seeing her perplexed face.

“Donald didn’t like it, and that wasn’t free speech it was a picture, so that’s different.” Sarah helpfully explained.  She’d stopped nibbling her rice cracker now.  Really, for a newspaper editor person, Damian didn’t understand some very basic things.

“Dearest” Damian continued “Then there is that woman – that Muslim woman – who came to one of Donald’s presidential rallies.  She was thrown out for no good reason I could see.  Some people might think that isn’t exactly respecting freedom.”

“She was ugly!  And wearing an offensive foreign shirt – I think it said ‘Salaam’ or ‘salami’ or something. Really, if you’re not great looking to start with, you could at least wear nice clothes.”

“And, well, how should I put this? Parliament is meant to, on occasion, listen to people.”   Damian felt his blood pressure might be going up.  “It’s not quite like you said. Your statement said ‘for the UK to consider banning someone who made a statement in America, about American borders during a US election campaign is ridiculous.’ I think you’ll find, oh light of my life, that the UK has laws stopping hate speech – as mean as that might seem” he added, seeing her pout and her nose wrinkle up,

“people have been already injured because of Donald Trump’s words.”

“Some homeless guy got beaten up. That’s America’s problem not ours. And if someone tried to make a bomb, then that’s their problem too.”  A frown came over the otherwise beautiful countenance of the beautiful princess.  “As my statement written by Georgie said ‘it is absurd that valuable parliamentary time is being wasted debating a matter raised as part of the American presidential election.”  

She was reading it from the large font printed sheets they’d given her the other day to practice saying.

“Yes darling – but the UK’s laws on public order are supposed to stop people who encourage others to do that kind of thing from coming over here and doing it. I agree with you and Donald of course, but remember he said that relatives of terrorists should be taken out?”
 
“Yes, that’s just the kind of peacemaker he can be, when he’s not busy being smart and strong. He’d take them out to play golf, and then they’d agree with him.”
 
“Er, well.”

Damian didn’t know what to say

“So, when he said all those things about women, Mexicans, ugly people, Muslims, even Republicans in the past, black people, Jewish people – that kind of made Robert Gordon University think he didn’t really belong in a multicultural institution, and the Global Scot ambassadorship was taken away too. Honey – do you really think he should be put in charge of a country as powerful as the US and made Commander in Chief of its army?”
 
“OH! Of All the Nerve!”

The Princess was not going to have her husband question her about these little details.

“Do you remember how much I get paid for being the spokesperson and talking about golf and investment? It’s quite a bit Master Bates. And you – that Maserati guzzles petrol. If Donald didn’t advertise where would you be?”

He thought of where he might be. To change the subject seemed the way forward.

“Let’s not worry – worrying makes wrinkles.”

The Princess reached for her handbag and got out her magnifying, light-up mirror.

“Where? Where?” she asked in blind panic.

“Not you, never – let’s avoid any worry. Or too much overthinking. Don’t you worry honey. All’s fine. I’ll run your quote in full.” Master Bates said soothingly, but his brow showed some signs of stress.

The Princess pulled out a small rectangular package.

“I’ve got something for you darling” She said, handing the box over,

“Remember, Donald will be here in a week or so to see how great everything is.”

Perhaps a Louis Vuitton credit card case? A voucher for the Marcliffe?

As he opened the package, for the first time he felt a bit angry.

“A Trump golf tie? Made in Mexico?”

“He’s coming next week, and it will look great on you!” The Princess beamed

“I’m not wearing a goddamned polyester tie for anyone! Thank F*£$”! no one’s seen me in the golf cap” he thought.

Master Bates stifled his first impulses and answered:

“Well, thank you Sarah, it’s, well, it’s wonderful. I’m going to save it for when we all meet up at the Clubhouse when he’s next here, shall I?”

Grabbing his last piece of toast he got up.

“I’ve just remembered, I’ve got a story to do for Woody; he’s giving money away to charity.”
 
“Darling you’re the best” The Princess crooned;

“Would you be an absolute angel and let me use your card? I’ve got to get my hair all teased up like in that photoshoot I did at MacLeod House for when Donald’s around. A few extensions here and there will do it. And a new dress. He’d love to see me in a new dress, and I’m sure you would too. Be a darling!”

She kissed his forehead.

“Of course.”

Master Bates’ voice was perhaps a bit terser than usual. He thought about asking here where on earth ‘hundreds of millions of pounds had been pumped into the Scottish economy by her blustering boss. Master Bates looked at the photo of them as newlyweds on the mantle piece, and thought, there’s more than a few wrinkles between then and now. He grabbed the toast, flung her the credit card, and grabbed the Maserati keys.

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Dec 242013
 

ChristmasTwas the night before Christmas and all through the Deen
Nae een were stirrin, ye ken fit Ah mean?

ACSEF members were nestled all smug in their beds
Visions of brown envelopes danced in their heids
Lady Helen in her kerchief, and Sir Ian in his cap
Had just settled their brains for a long winter’s nap

When out on their lawn there arose such a clatter
Ian sprang from his bed to see what was the matter.
Away to his window, he flew like a flash
Hoping no one would try robbing his cash.

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Gave the lustre of granite to objects below
When what to Sir Ian’s beady eyes should appear
But a miniature sleigh and eight tiny reindeer:

“There’s no right of access to land near my home
“I’ve got lots of money so you’ve no right to roam!”

Twas a little old man with a red suit and beard
“Could this be a communist?” Ian Wood feared.
Santa approached, getting out of his sled
Turning to Ian, this is what he said:-
Christmas

“Perhaps greed and age have made you grow thick
“For as any fool knows I am St Nick.
“I’ve come to the Deen to reward the good
“On second thoughts I could skip you, Ian Wood.”

“The thing is, with the greedy things that you do
“I just don’t think that I can believe in you.”

At this Ian faltered – he so wanted presents:
“Hold on now Santa, I’m not one of the peasants.
“Let’s talk for a moment so I can explain
“How you can maximise your capital gain.”

“Pay your elves’ wages from an offshore tax haven
“Hoots Santa – think of the dosh you’d be savin’.
“Perhaps you should start a ‘Claus Family Trust,
“And there’s ‘Venture Philanthropy’ – yes, that’s a must.”

“No taxes to pay and you’ll save lots of money
“Stop giving away gifts for free – it’s not funny,”
“Just because poor people put up a tree
“Doesn’t mean you should give gifties for free.”

Santa sighed, saying “Thank you indeed Ian Wood
Christmas“I think though that you just might be up to no good.
“If you paid your taxes, if you weren’t so greedy
“I dare say that others might not be so needy.”

“I’ll bid you good night; I’ll say no more.”
“But do say hello to your close friend, Mrs Craw.”

Donner, the lead deer, was slightly perplexed
“Well Santa, which house will we fly to next?”
“Let’s go to the Milne house since we are quite near.”
And off flew St Nick, the elves and the deer.

“Santa, this heated driveway is quite nice,
“It’s totally clear of all snow and all ice.”
Stewart Milne’s ‘eco’ house had some curious features
This driveway was welcome to Santa’s cold creatures.

“Just one gift for Stew, here, do have a wee look”
St Nick was clutching a nice brand new book
“What is it called?” asked a curious elf
“Football for beginners” – Santa laughed to himself.

“I don’t know that Stewart kens much o the game
“He cares more for money, still all the same
“In the spirit of Christmas and the spirit of Yule
Christmas“This book may help him ken the offside rule.”

Away the deer flew with the sled full of gifts
“Hey,” Comet said, “D’ye ken Milne wears lifts?”
All the deer laughed until it was clear
That towards Aileen Malone’s house they were drawing near.

“Don’t be afraid of that witch” Santa said
“Who as we know had your comrades shot dead
“Deer, if anyone needed the loo,
“We’re over Malone’s house. Yes I think this will do.”

Over Malone’s roof they arrived in a twinkling,
And soon every reindeer and elf started tinkling.
“There are those politicians who will tell you, by heck
“that really it’s raining as they pee down your neck.”

“So do your business – relieve yourselves here.
“In memory of 36 Tullos Hill deer.”

The deer did their business and some of them tittered
“With only 5 LibDems she must be embittered.
“At the election her side got quite trounced.
“Change course for the Bates’!” St Nick announced.”

ChristmasAnd soon Santa stood on the Malone-Bates roof
“No wonder that these newlyweds were so aloof
“No news in the press of their marriage was blurted
“To ensure their financial interests weren’t hurted.”

Perfect gifts for these lovebirds Santa had found;
Down their chimney Santa jumped with a bound.

But just as our Santa started to speak
He was scared by a monster which started to shriek.

Santa stared at the thing which wore a night gown
Could this be some kind of a beast or a clown?
Its hair was in rollers, its eyes were cucumbers
Its face was green mud: “You interrupted my slumbers!”

“You’ve got ash on my carpet! Turn around and get out!”
The hideous thing did shriek and did shout.
Santa twigged who it was, she normally looked fairer
It was ‘The Face of the Deen’, the lovely bride Sarah:

“In order for my great beauty to keep
“I need many hours of deep beauty sleep.”
“Oh Sorry,” said Santa, “my fair beauty queen
“I ken now why you are the Face of the Deen.”
Christmas

“From me you will not hear any further peep
“Clearly you’re behind on your beauty sleep
“I’ve just some small gifts for you two then I’ll go
“Back to my sleigh outside in the snow.”

“I’m amazed at the way you two work close together
“Let’s hope that there won’t be any stormy weather
“Like when the course fell into the North Sea last year
“And the cold’s perhaps wrinkled your sweet face my dear.”

Sarah said, “I’ve got an old man and he gives me  presents,
“My beautiful face put me above other peasants
“He pays me to run the world’s greatest course”
(Mrs Bates showed  not even a sign of remorse).

“Well then Sarah, I’ve two little gifties for you
“A gallon of wrinkle cream, och aye the noo,
“And a book you should read , it’s called ‘Golf can be fun”
(For she hadn’t a clue when all said and done).

“No need to thank me, I’m just here to serve
“And I do think you have got the gifts you deserve.”
As the sleigh left, its bells made a sweet tinkle
Sarah ran to the mirror to check on her wrinkle.
Christmas

“All these liars and cheats, they do make me cross
“But let’s pay a visit to Sarah  Bates’ boss”
The elves were astounded- “Santa don’t be a chump”
Santa answered “I do have one giftie for Trump.”

Donald was home, counting his money
And planning a trip to somewhere quite sunny:
“Where can I go next to get a good thrill
“With lions and tigers and bears I can kill?”

The Donald thought people loved him – the great hunter
But everyone thought: ‘what a horrible c*nt’ – (Er,
sorry ‘bout the language but thinking of him
Makes my blood pressure rise and me head start to spin).

The Don said “I built this course for my auld Scottish Nanny”
St Nick replied “Now just you listen here, mannie
“I’ve got a list of who’s nice and who’s naughty
“Or arrogant, scheming deceptive and haughty.
“No gift for you – no ifs, ands or buts
“But please take a voucher –it’s for ‘Supercuts’.”

Izon Security arrived on the spot
They’d been spying on locals – they do that a lot:
Christmas“Get out of that sleigh and let’s see your ID!”
Santa replied: “Are you talking to me?”

“Get stuffed you great b*stards” Santa said with a hiss
“Has the right to roam been reduced to this?
“You’ve no right to spy or to hassle good folk
“And this golf course is really one heck of a joke.”

With a jingle of bells St Nick and his team
Flew over the Great Dunes of North Aberdeen
“Come on deer and elves, there are good folk in need
“The ones who are victims of all this crass greed.

“The ones who are teachers and nurses and such
“They get paid very little yet do very much
“The children who don’t have enough food to eat
“Aberdeen may be rich, but some live on the street.”

“There are people who help the sick and the poor
“Some help animals too, and of this I am sure
“Those who help others with no thought of themselves
“They are the real saints, the real Santas and elves.”

Santa and his team spent the rest of their night
Giving out presents to good folks’ delight.
ChristmasAsk yourselves this “Am I naughty or nice?”
If you’re a bad one, take some advice.

Flaunting your wealth, and harming others
Ruins the chance that we have to be brothers
If you can help, then you should get stuck in
Greed, don’t you know is a terrible sin.

It’s never too late to fight the good fight
Happy Christmas to all and to all a good night!

– Suzanne Kelly

– . – . – . – . – . – . – . – . – . – . – . – . – . – . – . – . – . – . – . –

Picture – Christmas Tree Baubles

Credit: Ian Britton. Freefoto.com
http://www.freefoto.com/download/90-04-66/Christmas-Tree-Baubles

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Sep 062013
 

Voice’s Old Susannah takes a look over the past week’s events in the ‘Deen and beyond. By Suzanne Kelly.

DictionaryTally Ho! It’s been such a pleasant summer in the Deen, and there is no sign yet of the great weather retreating. The Braemar Games are set for this weekend, and it should be another great year for these particularly enjoyable games.

Thanks this week to the brilliant team at Swan Vets for dealing with my ailing cat; they are compassionate, efficient, benevolent and plain speaking.  As such, they are unique in almost any field of endeavour. If only we had more people like this in the public sector (or printed press).  If only everyone respected animals as much.

For instance, things are as bad as it gets for any cetacean life near to Taji Cove, Japan – the Japanese have started their annual slaughter and hunt of these intelligent, family-orientated animals. 

We now know that dolphins communicate on a very sophisticated level; they have identifiable names for individual animals in their pod.

The Japanese however want to slowly butcher these animals (you don’t want to know how slow and painful their death is) – or worse, after being weakened and starved, some are flown (courtesy of Japan Air Lines or China Air) to aquariums around the world. Against this backdrop of unnecessary violence and sadism, India has stood up and passed new legislation against the slaughter and transport of dolphins.

This was an important and bold step; cetacean charities and experts around the world applaud this move. More information here http://www.wdcs.org/

Closer to home, the badger cull continues; science is again thrown out the window, just as it was with the ‘contiguous cull’ which saw millions of livestock destroyed, now admittedly a horrific, unnecessary act of a desperate government.

As pointed out, vaccines were an option; American technology could have seen portable diagnostic equipment used.  Instead, we had massive bonfires and animals often destroyed inhumanely, and completely unnecessarily. http://www.farmersguardian.com/home/news-analysis/foot-and-mouth-10-years-on-culling-was-pure-madness/37404.article

We need to re-examine how DEFRA and other animal/environmental agencies always leap to culling as the solution when vaccination and other remedies to animal-related problems exist and are possible.

There is a poisoning of a bird of prey being reported nearly daily now; endangered, rare species are being deliberately targeted. Given the plight of wild animals in the UK, you’d almost think a powerful pro-hunting/culling lobby existed that pressured these organisations from the outside and infiltrated them, working inside them to make pro-culling policy take precedence.

It must be very gratifying writing these endless pro-city garden project stories

But surely not. As long as you’re not a seal, a badger, an ailing cow which could have been inoculated, a bird of prey or any form of deer, this is a great island to be a wild animal. (I hope to get back to my series on ‘cull of the wild’ soon, but recent developments at Menie and UTG have kept me a touch busy).

It’s also been a confusing week, with free paper Metro reporting a decrease in support for the ‘YES’ campaign, and our very own Evening Express claiming the reverse.  It’s almost as if you can’t believe what you believe in some papers sometimes.

The EE’s chief reporter David Ewen went on an investigative journalism binge this week. He’s broken the story that John Michie, owner of avant-garde chemist Michie’s on Union Street wants to build in the garden. Hard to believe that Michie has come down in favour of such an act; after all there was barely any sign of enthusiasm from him for the previous proposals (except for the frothing at the mouth).

More on this altruistic Aberdeen Journals Ltd. campaign to ‘mend our broken heart’ (ie building something in UTG) shortly.  With his command of economics, city planning, environmental issues and surgical spirit, we’re as good as saved now. He’s of course been on ACSEF for years, a fact that the EE neglected for some reason.

It must be very gratifying writing these endless pro-city garden project stories; I do wonder whether the editor subtly suggests them to his reporters, or if they all clamber to be the one chosen to write more pro web prose. More on that in a moment.

Finally, that poor Mr Cameron hasn’t managed to convince his own MPs let alone Parliament that the best way to help the Syrian people is with airstrikes. In fact there was open hostility when the idea of intervention went to the vote. You could be forgiven for wondering if the LibDem / Conservative coalition has a few stress fractures. But don’t worry, the ever-strategic Ken Clark is coming to Cameron’s rescue.

So, nice weather and nice veterinarians aside, perhaps it is time for some definitions with that.

Military Action: (Mod Eng. compound noun) Waging battle, physical intervention in a problem. (Clearly not waging war of course)

That poor Mr Cameron; he’s going to start wondering who is friends are. All he wanted was a bit of support in the House of Commons from his fellow Torys to help the Syrian people – with a little bit of military action.

Children in Syria are being tortured, starved, orphaned, and recently burnt to death in a school. Old Susannah would love to tell you how this amounts to a ‘civil’ war, or indeed what wars have ever been civil. Over a million people have been made homeless; unknown numbers have been killed, tortured, disappeared.

Clearly what we need to do is bomb them.

Some weak-livered hippies think we need to be sending medical aid, shelter, food, rescuing people and working round the clock for a diplomatic end to this civil war. How disappointing that some of this ilk seem to have got into the House.

Poor Cameron must have been feeling down as dozens of his own MPs voted against him. Luckily, that nice Mr Clarke as come to the rescue. He’s said Cameron was only doing what the Americans wanted him to do by raising the vote.

“Mr Clarke, the Minister Without Portfolio, has disclosed that the Americans “wanted us to make this vote very quickly”. He said that the Government “did not have time” to ensure that it had enough support from MPs to win the vote. “
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/Cameron-told-to-hold-quick-Syria-vote

 Well, the coalition may have lost control of the House, but thankfully, the Americans are still setting the House’s agenda. Phew. For anyone who thinks blankets rather than bombing is the answer (with food and medicine thrown in), more info here. http://www.redcross.org.uk/syriacrisis

Broken Heart Campaign: (modern Aberdonian media propaganda phrase) To make everyone in Aberdeen happy by building something – anything in UTG.

When all is dark, when you can’t get a good VAT deal on regenerating brown field sites (which we have just a few of in central Aberdeen), when billionaires aren’t getting their way by commandeering common good land  for their cronies to manage, who ya gonna call? Evening Express!

Using all of its muscle without a thought of trying to sell more papers or keep its advertisers happy, Damian Bates’ organ is going to mend our broken heart! I didn’t know we had one, but there you go. Shops will fill up – we just have to build in the garden.

Perhaps a train stop makes some kind of sense for accessibility obsessives, but then again, if wheelchair users can get in the gardens now, what is the point.

When we have some specific actual architectural drawings, we can see what they’re on about. These, unlike those pretty web drawings, will show any safety features, HVAC details, and any underground structures (which will be opposed if they alter the park). However much cheerleading Wood, Michie and their pals do, there are just a few minor obstacles to consider.

There will be adherence to EU and UK procurement procedures. Aberdeen City Gardens Trust is not going to automatically get control of so much as a blade of grass: the whole thing is going out to tender (architecturally too, Halliday Fraser  Munro take note).

There will be environmental impact studies. There will be a public design vote with completely transparent results, which will include the chance to vote for improving the gardens, not building in them.

There is a difference between mending a broken heart and fixing something that’s not broken

There will be, unlike the lovely web, something called a project. A project, for the benefit of any ACSEF members still reading, requires a defined scope of the work to be carried out, a timescale for the work, and (sorry ACSEF) a detailed budget which will be adhered to.

There will be no further expenditure by ACSEF or any other quango on propaganda (we spent £125 or so on a photo ‘showing the gardens are inaccessible’ just for openers) and no more public money doled out to consultants (if you want to know more about the half million pounds of public money swallowed so far for this proposed land grab – sorry heart-mending project – is, have a look at  https://aberdeenvoice.com/2012/02/the-great-city-gardens-project-gravy-train/ )

The moral authority of the Evening Express is beyond reproach – or is that beyond the pale? Considering Mrs Bates makes her money from the much trumpeted Trump course which the EE and P&J are always happy to talk up, you have to wonder. Perhaps there is a Bates uncle or auntie on ACSEF? Is it the advertising revenues and the dwindling circulation rate that’s behind this heart propaganda?

I think we should be told (but we won’t be).

There is a difference between mending a broken heart and fixing something that’s not broken. Lower the business rates, start some initiatives to give our talented fashion, craft and arts students and practitioners empty store space to regenerate the town centre, stop building new stores (the mall didn’t exactly help the high street, and a first year economic student could have told us that).

But we need that green space, and what’s more we own it. We don’t need Smith managing it for us. Regenerate the brown field and in so doing stop the urban sprawl.  No open heart surgery required.

One way or the other, EE involvement, ACSEF involvement or not – there is going to be no more cronyism, no more secrecy and no more propaganda. And that’s a shame for a few people. Sorry.

Well, if they’re going to continue with the monomania, so must I.

Next week:  more on recent Trump-related developments, possibly some city of culture bid skulduggery uncovered too…

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Jun 142013
 

Tally Ho! instead of the usual news round up, diary, and definitions, I wanted to cheer everyone up with a little fairy tale. Definitions and normal services to resume shortly. By Suzanne Kelly.

The Beautiful Princess

There once was a beautiful princess; all around her marvelled at her great beauty. Was she as kind, good and honest as her looks implied? Alas! Not so much.

Proud of her great beauty, she entered a beauty pageant to find the fairest face in the land, and naturally, she won, for she was the most beautiful maid in all the highlands. The fame this brought her went straight to her head.

A rich and powerful tyrant saw her beauty and decided she might be of use to him. One of his sons had heard of her great beauty too, and said “Dad can you get me one of those?”

Now all the kingdoms of the earth knew the tyrant loved and coveted money, but he also loved the thing he could not buy – beauty. Cursed (by many), he had about him the look and manners of an angry, podgy, balding ogre. In hushed tones the people hinted that he was indeed descended from an ogress. A long, long time ago, he married a beautiful woman, but as she aged, he cast her off.

He then married a younger, prettier maiden, and when she too aged, he likewise cast her out, only to marry a younger maiden still. (His children were thought of as being part ogre as well; their lusts for shooting the rare wild beasts was unbridled and terrifying to see). Thus, the tyrant had serious image problems, and something had to be done.

“Come and work for me,” the tyrant wrote to the princess; “It does not matter that you have no work experience, I could still find your talents very useful indeed.” He whisked her off to his far away kingdom, where in his palace of pink marble he plied her with gold and jewels. She was truly enchanted, for the thing she loved nearly as much as her dear face was wealth.

And so the princess went to work for the tyrant.

The tyrant was most pleased, and thought to himself:

“As the princess is loved – not only by the townsfolk, but also by a local storyteller prince, so shall these facts benefit my purse as I build my empire. With her in the mix, I am verily quids in.”

Now the princess knew all about the tyrant, but the lure of a job which would give her money to buy pretty things proved too strong to resist. She did like shiny, new pretty things.  She also had found a new love in the arms of the handsome storyteller prince.

unbeknownst to her, a small wrinkle appeared on her perfect brow

Now her storyteller prince had previously found love as she herself had, but alas, things change. The prince found the lustre had worn off his old bride, and seeing the lovely princess, he cast off his wife. For the beautiful princess and her prince to be joined, she had to do a bit of casting off as well, and she sent her ex a packin’.

Fearing the peasants would think her less lovely, she wed her storyteller prince in secret, for her handsome prince was none other than the very storyteller who the tyrant wanted to sing his praises. This was some coincidence indeedy.

“Alas – the people who now love me for my great beauty and modesty might not understand my marrying my prince. They might – wrongly of course – think that we are in it for the money, and his storytelling skills, so useful to my tyrant benefactor combined with my earnings  from the tyrant are bang out of order.”

As she worried for a second, unbeknownst to her, a small wrinkle appeared on her perfect brow.

She worked hard to keep her lovely looks; she consulted a wizard, who made odd potions out of deadly botchulism poison, and administered these to the fair princess’ face. She had mud wraps and beauty treatments. All was well with her world.

All was not so well where the tyrant king was building.

At his bidding, the lovely princess had the trees and plants swept aside. The animals were chased out of their homes (if they were lucky), and a great course of golf was laid on the seashore. The older folks shook their heads in dismay and disbelief. Those people who lived close to this course of golf were treated poorly as well.

Warlocks disguised as house-hunters appeared on the peasant’s cottage doors, asking to buy their homes for a pittance. The tyrant’s men hounded and persecuted them, halting the resident peasants as they went about their business. A , honest storyteller visiting the peasants was clapped in irons and thrown in a dungeon – all at the say-so of the tyrant’s forces.

Walls of earth were built around the poor cottager-dwellers’ homes.

The only happy people were those who sought to suck up to the tyrant, and verily the princess was first in the line of these.

“Tear down that house on the hill, for it is ugly!” he roared

Whether she was too self-involved to care about the animals and people, or whether she was too thick to know what the cruel realities of the course of golf were was the subject of debate in the taverns. Either way, the princess was not coming out of it in a good light at all. But she was oblivious.

The princess found herself happy and contented. She had her shiny things, and pretty clothes. She had her new clubhouse by the sea too, where she reigned. But somehow – it all seemed temporary.

One day the tyrant came to ask her to do some work.

“Tear down that house on the hill, for it is ugly!” he roared. “Build a wall of earth so I need not look at that ugly peasant’s cottage when I am here by the sea! he decreed! 

“Plant the youngest, fairest trees on the sandy bund so that I may nevermore see the peasants, and they may nevermore see the sea!”

Verily, even the muted colours of the shore, sand and gentle grasses and plants were not to his liking.

“Paint each blade of grass a turquoise blue, for that pleases my eye more than the colour that Mother Nature has given them.”

The princess dutifully obeyed –some say she obeyed with a bit too much pleasure.

The trees were planted. Alas! They could not thrive in sand, as any fool knows. But the princess merely saw their ageing, ill condition and had the woodsman cut them down, and replace them with new ones.

Mother Nature had watched all of these activities with waxing wrath. And she wasn’t having it:

“As you have profited from the ageing of another maiden, as you have treated the peasants, the landscape and even these poor trees, which never had a chance to live – all for your own profit and vanity, so it shall be with you one of these days, you b”£$(UT 2!”

Mother Nature was well and truly pissed off.

Verily, the towns folk did talk amongst themselves:

“Is she really the fairest in the land if she is fair of face, but not of deed?”

They asked such questions in whispers. Then one day it came to pass that the jig was up.

There was just a touch more harshness in the tyrant’s voice than usual

Despite marrying in secret, the story was now out – and all the folk knew the princess married the very man who could keep the tyrant sweet, and whose stories the tyrant relied on to boost his ego and profits, which of course helped keep the princess on a nice little earner too.

Time went past.

The ugly tyrant would visit now and then. One such day he said to the princess:

“What the F*!£$%!!!@?? are those F*)($%&^ing ugly trees doing on that bund? They look old and tired, and are in serious need of replacing!”

There was just a touch more harshness in the tyrant’s voice than usual. Smiling outwardly to the tyrant, the princess heaved a sigh as he finally flew away on his great silver jet.

When he left, a twitch struck her eye, and the wrinkle on her fair brow appeared once more. Despite several layers of St Tropez tanning spray, she seemed somehow pale.

As time passed, the storyteller prince started going to balls without the princess; he started to work a little later at the office.

Came the day the princess was buying more designer clothes. “Madame will need another size up, I fear”, said the shopkeeper “but don’t worry, this designer just cuts the sizes very small”, the shopkeeper lied, fingers crossed behind her back.

As the princess looked at her reflection in the glass, she paused for a moment. Was that a shadow or a wrinkle on her brow? Was that extra build of up tanning spray under her eyes, or dark circles? Was that a touch of silver in her hair peeping through? Had the lines on her lovely throat deepened? “I’ll need a fortnight at Champney’s at least”, the worried princess thought.

For a second, she thought – which in itself was notable.

She thought of the wives of the tyrant, cast aside once they bloom of youth had departed them. She thought of the previous consort to her own prince, now consigned to the scrap heap. She thought of the peasants, walled behind mounds of earth to conceal their poverty from the tyrant.

She thought of the scores and scores of trees she ordered planted, knowing they would not live, and after drying in the hostile climate would be thrown aside, their lives inconsequential. All these had to be replaced or hidden to hide their lack of beauty and youth.

The thought never reached a conclusion, for her mobile phone had started to ring. She could see it was the tyrant calling her. She took another look at her reflection.

She was not smiling now.

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Jun 072013
 

The press had been invited to a press conference by Trump Golf Scotland. They will have heard what he has to say about his golf course, the proposed windfarm, plans for his second golf course, the popularity of his golf course, how much money he is pulling in ‘for Scotland’…. and just how wonderful he thinks he is. Sue Edwards writes.

Trump says he has the greatest golf course in the world.  No, he has a golf course on what are some of the greatest sand dunes in the world.

He has torn the heart out of a rare, dynamic dune system so important that part of it had the designation ‘Site of Special Scientific Interest’, the rest designated a SINS – a Site of Interest to Natural Science.

What was once a wild and untamed area is now constricted by the tarmac roads, the vast turfed and seeded greens and fairways, fertilised to a bright vivid green in comparison with the gentle soft green of the original marram grass. 

Perhaps it is a good golf course, but it is definitely in the wrong place.  Nature is fighting back – strong winter winds from the beach blow sand over the whole area as they have for centuries.  Trump will find he has a real fight on his hands!

What you won’t hear from Trump is the lengths he has gone to make life difficult for some of the residents.

From the start he tried to purchase some of the homes using subterfuge – first by sending a minion with a false name to say how much he would love to live in their home and offering a paltry sum, then he himself came clean, pretended to be a friend and made insulting offers.  Things turned sinister when he tried to persuade Aberdeenshire Council to obtain these homes for him by compulsory purchase.

Eventually all his attempts failed, but then he turned nasty.

Sand and earth bunds were built in front of homes so that they couldn’t be seen from his precious golf course. Trees were planted to further screen their properties.  Security vehicles were set to watch homes at all times of the day and night. The residents and their friends and family were stopped and questioned by Trump security – and worse.

As a neighbour Trump should be handed an ASBO. He submits planning applications, gets planning consent, then builds just whatever he wants.

the owners now look onto the back of a weed-laden sand and earth bank, imprisoned by Trump’s arrogance

The car park, for example, bears absolutely no resemblance to the planning consent he was given by the council.  He has submitted at least six retrospective planning applications for work he has carried out but has no consent for, and there are further examples of development carried out without planning consent even being sought.

If you want to see examples of this, go behind the big wooden gate at the end of the clubhouse car park. Squeeze round the gate (as residents with long-standing access rights now have to do) and see how Leyton Cottage has just been blanked off.

From having glorious long views across the dunes and farmland as far as the eye can see for decades, the owners now look onto the back of a weed-laden sand and earth bank, imprisoned by Trump’s arrogance.

Sand blows off the bund into their house, water is channeled by the bank down their track to settle around their low-lying property, and lights shine into their property from the car park lights built far too close to their home. Trump staff strim the grass on the golf course side of the bund close to Leyton Cottage, but they do this on Sundays causing a noise nuisance.

The bund was never on any planning application but he went ahead and built it and now the council has caved in and will allow it to stay. Just think for a moment how you would like it if this had happened to you.

Trump once stated that he was a great environmentalist. How would he explain the rubbish heaps he has lying hidden about the estate?

Piles of rubbish are burnt regularly, and heaps of grass cuttings have plastic chemical containers buried in them. Attempts have been made to cover the evidence with sand.

Fertilisers appear to have been spread around water courses causing wild plants and weeds to spring up and thrive further downstream.

The water then carries on out to sea possibly having an effect plants and animals in the marine environment.

The local newspapers – the Press and Journal and the Evening Express – won’t say a word against Trump and his development. Could the fact that the P&J editor is married to Trump’s office manager here at Menie have some bearing on this?  

Nevertheless, many folk locally have the measure of Trump and know about the way he deals with things. Yet, so many are still blinded by his ‘celebrity’ and accept just what he says as gospel truth.

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Feb 052013
 

In her series of articles on The Menie Estate and Donald Trump’s planned resort. Suzanne Kelly has documented part of the course being eroded by the North Sea. She has documented the draconian security activities on the site, and the construction of huge earth bunds blocking existing residents’ access to sea views and sunlight. She has also documented deteriorating road surfaces.  Further articles will focus on key players in the Menie story, but a recent development has led her to write this supplementary article for Aberdeen Voice.

A wedding was solemnised this past weekend: Miss Sarah Malone married Mr Damian Bates. There are a few points which make this wedding of interest and importance to a wider circle than their family and friends.
Ms Malone was selected in the Evening Express’s beauty contest as the ‘face of Aberdeen’.  That was in 2007. Mr Bates was editing the paper from 2006, having started there in 2003; he is now the editor of sister paper, The Press & Journal.

Ms Malone was plucked from the relative obscurity of the Gordon Highlanders’ museum by Donald Trump to serve as a Vice-President for his controversial golf development on Aberdeen’s coastal Menie Estate. She has no previous experience of real estate developments, or of golf.

It’s wonderful when two people meet and fall in love.

It is not quite so wonderful when there seems to be a whiff of bias in favour of an editor’s wife’s business interests.

For those who don’t know, the DC Thomson papers in Aberdeen, the Evening Express and the Press and Journal have given a huge amount of positive press to Donald Trump and the real estate development of which Sarah is in charge. When Trump or relatives flew in or out of Aberdeen, front pages were decked with positive stories and large photos. The paper has supported the development from the start.

In doing so, it printed not only positive, glowing Trump articles. It also vilified Aberdeenshire councillors who voted against the scheme, which went against existing planning guidelines and meant the destruction of a Site of Special Scientific Interest, the highest kind of environmental protection there is.  Andy Wightman puts it best in his excellent report:-

“Perhaps the most notorious example of this was following the planning decision on 29 November 2009 to reject the planning application. The Evening Express published the pictures of all seven councillors who had voted against the application under the headline ‘You traitors’.

“The paper’s editorial, ‘Betrayed by stupidity of seven’, described the councillors as ‘small-minded numpties’, ‘misfits’, ‘buffoons in woolly jumpers’, ‘traitors to the North-east’ and ‘no-hopers’.  …Furthermore, Aberdeen Journals have taken a conscious editorial decision to exclude critical voices from being heard in the Press and Journal and Evening Express.

“On 12 December 2009, the Press and Journal ran what it called an ‘Exclusive Report’  which alleged that the main critics of the development, a pressure group called Tripping Up Trump (TUT), consisted of many people with ‘tenuous or no connections with the Aberdeenshire coastline they claim to want to protect.’ Martin Glegg, one of the TUT campaigners, was alleged to be co-ordinating the campaign from Glasgow. And, in a bizarre interpretation of what makes a news story, the paper revealed that TUT’s legal adviser was based in Paisley.  [Note – Trump’s lawyers are in Edinburgh, but that was not deemed newsworthy]

“The Press and Journal editorial then went on to make the remarkable announcement that it would no longer be reporting what TUT might care to say.”
http://www.andywightman.com/docs/trumpreport_v1a.pdf

Wightman’s report also covers the planning aspects, boundary disputes and how the residents were treated; it makes for excellent factual reading.

For reasons of journalistic integrity, some might find this pro-Trump editorial policy a touch unseemly. 

There are some basic, albeit not legally binding principles of journalism which include accuracy, objectivity, truthfulness and the like. Can you be objective where your wife is concerned?

If a newspaper editor had been someone’s partner for months, perhaps years, and intended to form a marriage with their partner, would any financial gain their betrothed stood to make, such as having a highly-paid job on a multi-million pound project, also in effect be to the editor’s financial gain?

Bates, it should be added, is on the Press Complaints Commission’s Editors’ Code of Practice Committee.

Sarah and Damian Bates might have tied the knot legally, but many of the other players on the board are also interrelated. Here is a brief listing of how some of the players are coincidentally linked together.

Sarah Malone Bates – married Press & Journal editor Damian Bates February 2013

“[Resident David] Milne’s allegations of harassment are baseless and untrue …  His views are not representative of the ‘community’ … The course opened this summer with phenomenal success and glowing international reviews. It has enhanced the area and the environment immeasurably, and brought thousands of visitors from around the world to the north-east.”
http://local.stv.tv/aberdeen/news/196354-trump-opponent-pressing-for-fresh-inquiry-into-golf-course-handling/

Donald Trump“Sarah, I want to get rid of that house [David Milne’s home].”
Malone  Bates replies: “It’s going to create a bit of a stir but if we’re up for it let’s do it.”
http://www.andywightman.com/docs/trumpreport_v1a.pdf

  • face of Aberdeen for Evening Express beauty contest;
  • rumoured to be dating Damian Bates, formerly of Evening Express, now Press & Journal editor;
  • recruited from her job at Gordon Highlanders’ museum to be a Vice-President for Trump despite having no knowledge of golf;
  • was on a panel for Visit Scotland, a quango, and partner of Scottish Enterprise.

Damian Bates – married Trump Int, Golf Links’ Executive Vice President Sarah Malone in February 2013

“This newspaper has given a voice to all those who have wished to become involved in the debate about Donald Trump’s plans. That courtesy was extended to Tripping Up Trump in the belief that it was a bona fide group of local environmentalists. Today, it has been withdrawn.”   – Press and Journal 12 December 2009

“Newspapers like the Press and Journal….provide one of the few platforms for the little man to take on the big institutions”
http://www.kaimhill.net/?p=2729

  • Editor Press & Journal, formerly Evening Express editor;
  • his papers published only two articles on ‘You’ve Been Trumped’, both after the BBC screening, but nothing when it was first shown in Aberdeen nor when it won awards around the world;
  • the first of these articles, by David Ewen said that Anthony Baxter was not available for comment, when in fact he had spoken to the author on the same day the article came out. No subsequent correction was made in later editions;
  • the Press & Journal accepted a controversial full-page ad from Trump linking Salmond, windfarms, and Salmond’s attempt at recruiting Trump to support the release of convicted Lockerbie bomber, Al-Megrahi. Yet it rejected advertising, before any referendum was announced, by local group ‘Friends of  Union Terrace Gardens’, for being ‘too political’;
  • David Ewen, who had reported that Baxter was not available for comment in his first article on the subject, has authored a book with a foreword by Trump. Entitled ‘Chasing Paradise: Donald Trump and the Battle for the World’s Greatest Golf Course’, the book was available for sale in the Press & Journal shops and advertised in the paper;

Donald Trump

“I do play with the bankruptcy laws — they’re very good for me” http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/2011/04/24/the-trump-backlash.html

  • real estate developer with a past history including controversial developments,incomplete developments, litigation, and bankruptcy;
  • purchaser of Menie estate and developer of Trump International courses at Menie;
  • former alliance with Alex Salmond while the project was still in planning;
  • awarded an honorary degree from RobertGordonUniversity, amidst a high private security presence. RGU has Sir Ian Wood as its Chancellor.

Sir Ian Wood

“We are very pleased to honour you today in recognition of the significant contribution the Scottish Trump International golf resort will make to diversify the economy of the North East of Scotland.”
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-north-east-orkney-shetland-11493040

  • chancellor of RobertGordonUniversity, which saw fit to give Trump an honorary degree;
  • Former Chairman of Scottish Enterprise, board member of Scottish Enterprise;
  • Wood added Jennifer Craw, formerly of Scottish Enterprise, to the Wood Family Trust. Craw appeared in the Trump Organisation’s pro-development film in her Scottish Enterprise role, which also used the SE logo. SE never gave permission for this implied support for Trump and yet no formal complaint of this misuse seems to have been made. There will be more on this in a subsequent article.

Alex Salmond:

I believe that the economic and social benefits for the North-east of Scotland substantially outweigh any environmental impact”
http://www.eveningexpress.co.uk/Article.aspx/919658

  • His government took the unprecedented step of calling in the Trump planning application;
  • Met with Trump representatives just before it was announced Scottish Government would have the final say on the billionaire’s plans for a golf resort;
  • Controversially wined and dined Trump on both sides of the Atlantic while the course controversy raged;
  • Asked Trump to back his government’s stance on Lockerbie bomber Al-Megrahi’s release;
  • Has a close relationship with Sir Ian Wood, rector of RobertGordonUniversity, and ex-Scottish Enterprise.

Image Credits:

The Ring © Andrei Mihalcea | Dreamstime.com 
Marriage For Money © Vangelis | Dreamstime.com
A Pair Of Padlocks © Ragne Kabanova | Dreamstime.com

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