Apr 202017
 

With thanks to Aberdeenshire SNP.

As the closure date of Monday 8th May draws nearer for the Fraserburgh Branch of the Clydesdale Bank, local campaigners are calling for the bank to reverse its decision to withdraw services from the town.

A key issue is the retention of the cash dispenser (ATM), given that in other towns where the Clydesdale Bank has closed branches and withdrawn its ATMs, other banks have followed suit, reducing service provision and customer choice.

Fraserburgh man and SNP candidate for Fraserburgh & District David Donn, who organised a petition, commented:

“We’ve seen recent examples of bank closures where Head Office have pointed to the existence of other banks and ATMs in the town and basically said to the local community, ‘You’ll be fine as our rivals are still here’.

“Within sometimes a very short time thereafter, we’ve seen closure announcements from other banks in the same locality.

“Portsoy and Cullen are good examples where the Clydesdale Bank closed and locals were told you still have other banks to fall back on. Now, there are no banks at all in these places. If the Clydesdale Bank can close down its Fraserburgh Branch there’s no guarantee other banks won’t follow suit.

“We need a minimum of a cash machine locally to continue to provide Clydesdale customers with a service. We can’t rely on other financial institutions to still be here.”

Fraserburgh SNP councillor Brian Topping said:

“Bank closures have been a feature of the last few years but many of us thought a town the size of Fraserburgh would be immune from this so it’s come as a real blow to the community.

“We know that once the decision is made it’s unlikely to be unmade but the least the Clydesdale Bank can do is give some consideration to its loyal customers in the Broch and maintain the ATM service.”

Fraserburgh SNP councillor Charles Buchan added:

“I really commend David on the petition he organised and I hope the bank bosses will pay heed to the view of those who signed it.

“It’s very disappointing that the Clydesdale Bank has so far failed to give any kind of commitment to its customers in Fraserburgh except for pointing them in the direction of the Post Office.”

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Feb 022017
 

With thanks to Martin Ford.

Aberdeenshire councillor Martin Ford has signed the petition to the UK Government opposing an official state visit by Donald Trump during his term as US president. 

The petition states that Mr Trump should not be invited to make an official state visit because it would cause embarrassment to the Queen.

Over 1.8 million people have already signed the petition. Cllr Ford signed it on Sunday, 29 January.

Cllr Martin Ford said:

“The petition has coincided with world-wide protests at Mr Trump’s shameful and discriminatory travel ban.

“The information with the petition specifically describes Mr Trump as a vulgar misogynist, which, amongst other things, he certainly is.

“The petition makes the point that since, unbelievably, Mr Trump is now the President of the United States, the UK will have to deal with him and admit him to this country in that capacity. However, we don’t have to give him the honour of an official state visit and meeting the Queen and we clearly shouldn’t.

“Mr Trump is a deeply unpleasant individual with abhorrent views. So while we can’t ignore Mr Trump, the UK must do nothing that suggests support or approval of his behaviour.”

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Jan 202016
 

With thanks to Suzanne Kelly.

Suzanne Kelly fights her way through the hordes.

Trump Ban Petitioner, Suzanne Kelly.

Suzanne Kelly launched the petition requesting that Donald Trump be banned from the UK for his hate speech, as so many others have before. An unprecedented number of signatures – 570,000 – triggered the Westminster debate.

The debate took place on Monday 18 January, which also happened to be Martin Luther King Day.

Suzanne said afterwards:

“It was a pleasure to see so many of the speakers condemn Mr. Trump and his hate speech.  Some of those who spoke helpfully referred to the cases in the United States where people have committed violent acts or intended to, where Donald Trump’s speech had been the clear source of inspiration.”

“Teresa May still has it in her power to put the ban on Donald Trump; The Public Order Act 1986 has been used to ban over 80 people so far, and to me Mr. Trump’s words put him squarely in that category in my opinion, and in the opinions of some of the MPs.”

“It was surprising and disappointing to see that MP Paul Flynn, tasked with introducing the debate, decided to go to the media in advance of the debate and announce he was against the ban. I found that unethical, even though Flynn and the Petitions Committee apparently have no issue with it. I believe this sent a message to his party members and others to follow suit. 

“Moreover, if the member of the Petitions Committee charged with introducing my petition and my points did not support them, how robust a job could he be expected to do? Initially Flynn told me not to contact him when I wrote to him with the details of the arguments in favour of the ban. He did not believe he should communicate with me because of his role on the committee. The Petitions Committee disagreed with him. 

“What I found improper was his comments against any ban coming less than 24 hours before the debate. He hadn’t done me the basic courtesy of letting me know he was speaking out about the petition in advance. Therefore I lost an opportunity to counter him. Flynn’s amazingly idealistic concept of convincing Trump that multiculturalism works by taking Trump out to meet people is ridiculous. 

“If Flynn has that little handle on Trump’s  make-up, then he was not the person to lead the discussions. While he made some of my points, I hardly thought his presentation looked or sounded robust. Perhaps the Petitions Committee might reconsider how a petition is introduced in future.

“Flynn’s position was also that to ban Trump might potentially advantage him / make him seem a ‘martyr’ to some of his followers. I would have thought upholding British law would have come first to an MP. However it seems that second-guessing any potential outcomes of applying the law of the land overrides any duty to uphold the law for some.

“Thankfully some speakers were aware of the difference between hate speech and free speech. There were excellent points made by those who supported the petition. Others chose, somewhat disingenuously I thought, to decide that the requested ban on Trump was somehow an assault on Freedom of Speech. I wonder where those impassioned speakers were when it came to the 80+ people the UK has previously banned, and if they will now seek to overturn the historic bans against hate preachers.

“Some MPs seemed to fear that banning Trump was an attack on the US / that we should not meddle in US politics. How they came to the conclusion that this matter of UK law was less important than taking a stand against hate speech would be interesting to hear.

“However, virtually everyone who spoke had the harshest of words for Trump. ‘Buffoon’ seemed the word of the hour. It was good to see that there is a widespread condemnation of Trump’s policies.

“Sarah Malone-Bates, Trump’s spokesperson issued a statement which was to me feeble as well as hypocritical. She bemoaned the cost of this exercise to taxpayers, saying we were wasting valuable Parliamentary time. Perhaps it’s a case of amnesia or ignorance, but with her employer dragging the Scottish taxpayer through every court in the land in his selfish desire to scupper an important offshore wind farm project, I think Malone-Bates would find that Trump has cost far more money and time than the debate did.

I think the desire of 570,000 people to have the debate is just a bit more important than Trump costing Aberdeenshire money, time, clean energy and work in the clean energy sector.  She’s claimed that ‘hundreds of millions of pounds’ are being ‘pumped’ by Trump into the Scottish economy. 

“I’ve asked for sight of the proof of this wild claim; it’s not forthcoming, nor is a response to my request to have a live debate with her on the issues, which still stands.”

“I would like to thank the Petitions Committee administrators, who were very helpful throughout. Thanks too to the media for their interest and support. Thanks to Aberdeen Voice especially Fred Wilkinson, editor, and Julie Thompson who has worked on a number of stories with me. Gratitude goes to the MPs who understood the law and the purpose of the petition and who spoke eloquently; gratitude to those MPs opposed who nevertheless in some cases made useful comments.

“Finally, thanks very much to the people who took the time to sign this petition.

“Sometimes the system works. I see this petition and the debate as huge victories. Trump has lost his Global Scot status, his business is apparently no longer wanted in much of the Middle East; his honorary degree from Robert Gordon University was withdrawn, and Trump branded goods are being axed from shops.  If this is a defeat for me, I’ll live with it.”

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Jan 142016
 

Alex-Salmond-MP-MSPthm-Credit-SNP-AberdeenshireWith thanks to Tom Collins, Press Officer, Rt. Hon. Alex Salmond MP MSP

Alex Salmond has responded to the latest comments from Donald Trump. Referring to Mr Salmond as ‘an embarrassment to Scotland’ and a ‘stupid man’, Trump defended his purchase of Turnberry golf course and issued scathing criticism of Salmond pertaining to his support of windfarms, and the early release of convicted Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset al-Megrahi.

Mr Salmond said:

“The problem for Mr Trump lies not with his golf courses, but with him. The golf courses are excellent. ‘The Donald’ isn’t.
 
“Unfortunately, his claims of the level of future investment in Scotland bear no resemblance to the reality of the last eight years. His ownership of Turnburry places it effectively out of The Open Championship circuit at a cost of £100 million to the Scottish economy. His legal objections to wind demonstrators in Aberdeen have thus far deprived the North East of Scotland of a vital £200 million diversification into offshore wind technology at a time of great difficulty in oil and gas.
 
“However, the real difficulty is his recent statements on Mexicans and Muslims, which go beyond the pale of acceptable comment and an association with him is increasingly damaging to Scotland. That is why over half a million people have signed the parliamentary petition seeking to ban him from the country!
 
“As far as his remarks to me are concerned, I have fought and won nine elections. Mr Trump has yet to win one.
 
“On his remarks about Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, he is out of date. Megrahi’s release was in 2009. Since then, the SNP has won an overall majority in the Scottish Parliament and 56 seats out of 59 in a UK General Election. On Megrahi, Trump is like a cracked gramophone record playing in a digital age.
 
“Although, I have to admit it is very easy to issue statement after statement, tit for tat. I suggest instead Mr Trump calls into LBC next Wednesday at 16:00 (GMT), where he can ask me anything he likes. The number is +44 (0)345 60 60 973. If he has a beef I’ll be happy to take his call. We’ll see if debating here is as easy as debating over there!”

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Jan 142016
 

Suzanne Kelly fights her way through the hordes.

Suzanne Kelly, the woman behind the petition to the UK government to ban Trump, has released a summary statement supporting the requested ban. Her petition asks that Donald Trump be banned from the UK for hate speech, as has happened to some 80 people previously.

The petition will be debated on 18th January, along with a counter-petition. Kelly wants to ensure that everyone is aware of all the details.

The actual petition is limited to only a certain number of words by the Petitions Committee. Kelly understands the need for this, but is keen to get further details widely known before the debate.

Kelly is calling David Gladwin out, asking him to debate his pro-Trump petition with her prior to the Parliamentary debate. His petition reads:

“There are proposals to ban Donald Trump from the United Kingdom. At least, there’s a petition on the topic. This is totally illogical.” 

Kelly says:

“I’ve no idea who David Gladwin is, but I asked the UK Petitions Committee to ask him to get in touch. If his only argument is that the petition I started, signed now by an unprecedented 570,000 people, is ‘totally illogical’, let’s get him to say why. I also understood that a large number of his petition’s signatures were discounted, and I would like to know what he says about that, too.
 
“Trump’s hate speech has visible, violent outcomes in America. A homeless Hispanic man was badly beaten in Boston; those who were arrested said words to the effect ‘Donald Trump is right, we have too many immigrants.’ William Celli is accused of trying to make pipe bombs and attack Muslims; he is a Trump supporter who said he would follow Trump ‘to the end of the world.’ 
 
“I am particularly worried by Trump’s statement that relatives of terrorists should be ‘taken out’. He says nothing of trial, due process – he just calls for taking people out.  Is this an incitement to violence? I believe so. It is as dangerous as his call – made after my petition went live – to ban all Muslims from ENTERING the USA. The US has between 3  to 7 million Muslim citizens.

“He has lumped every follower of this religion into a group he wants to monitor and control, and in so doing tars peaceful people with the same brush as the dangerous terrorist fanatic, I of course condemn terrorism. This is hate speech. This is not free speech. Free speech carries responsibilities; Mr Trump seems completely unaware of this.
 
“The UK Government now has 570,000 people wanting this ban. They have evidence that Trump’s words have caused injury. They also have the unprecedented condemnation of Trump’s Islamophobic statements by no less than the US Secretary of State and top Pentagon officials. We must ban him. I see  no reason to treat a billionaire differently than we have treated those we have already banned.
 
“I would also suggest that people should go back and look at the Panorama programme ‘The Trouble with Trump.’ The BBC’s investigations certainly seemed to link Donald Trump to an American underworld figure. Trump’s position as I recall was that he couldn’t always know who he was doing deals with. This adds to the ever-growing list of reasons I hope that America will not make him its next president.”
 
“David Gladwin – or any Trump spokesperson, particularly local Sarah Malone-Bates at the Trump Menie Estate course, I challenge you to a debate before this petition. Let’s hear your views on Trump’s ‘freedom’ to ban travel based on religion, to ‘take people out’ for being related to terrorists (does this apply to William Celli’s family I wonder?) and his ‘freedom’ to continuously, unrepentantly insult people based on race, religion or sex. I really cannot wait to hear your defence of the man.”

Kelly has received a threat – someone wrote to Aberdeen Voice where she is a contributing writer, suggesting she should never leave the UK again as people want to get their hands on her – and that she could be put to work in a cotton field. Of the reaction to the petition Kelly says:

“I started this petition for my neighbours who were targets because of their religion and national origins, for my friends who were insulted because of their race, and my sisters, denigrated for being women. The huge number of signatures signals to me that people are weary of speech designed to drive wedges through communities.  There have been far more kind words than threats.

“Donald Trump was stripped of his honorary degree at Robert Gordon University following a petition I started; their values did not match his. On the occasion of losing this degree, Trump said words to the effect he will be a ‘smart and strong’ president. I personally feel that the man has confused ‘smart and strong’ with manipulative and brutishly bullying.”

Kelly has asked Aberdeenshire Council and the Trump International Golf Links Scotland to fix all outstanding planning breaches. This includes removing a giant bund of earth near Leyton Farm Cottage where it blocks the former views to the sea, Kelly finds it ironic that an organisation that wants to stop an offshore clean energy wind project for its visual impact would treat its neighbour in such a manner.

The bund now seems strongly implicated in the flood damage to the road and area by the cottage. Kelly also asked for immediate restoration of fishing access for farmer Michael Forbes. In the BBC Panorama programme ‘the Trouble with Trump’ Donald Trump Jr mocks Forbes for not fishing – his access to fish had long since been blocked by the Trump organisation.

Kelly expects a reply from the council on 13th January. The Trump organisation has refused to reply to date, or take requested remedial actions.

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Jan 072016
 

Paul Johnston Martin FordWith thanks to Martin Ford and Paul Johnston.

Two Aberdeenshire councillors are dismissing Mr Donald Trump’s latest threat to cancel investment in his Scottish golf courses. Mr Trump was reacting to the petition calling on the Westminster government to ban him from the UK signed by over 570,000 people.

Democratic Independent and Green councillors Paul Johnston and Martin Ford are questioning the likelihood of the investment going ahead whether Mr Trump is banned from the UK or not.

Said Cllr Martin Ford,

“Mr Trump has been promising hundreds of millions of pounds worth of investment in Aberdeenshire for ten years. He has also been threatening not to make the investment ever since he announced it.

“Mr Trump routinely uses threats to try to get his own way, to attempt to exert leverage over Aberdeenshire Council or Scottish Government decisions.

“Back in 2007, Mr Trump’s threat not to invest if he didn’t get everything he wanted clearly had the Council and the Scottish Government dancing to his tune.

“Surely, no-one is going to fall for this meaningless threat now. After ten years of promising an investment that has yet to materialise, the sensible working assumption has to be it’s not going to happen. The rational response to Mr Trump’s pronouncements is to ignore them.”

On Wednesday (6 January), Mr Trump said he would not invest £500 million in his Menie development nor £200 million at Turnberry if he was banned from the UK by the UK government. In 2007, Mr Trump promised to invest £1 billion at Menie – a claim repeated regularly over the following years. Mr Trump’s actual spend at Menie is believed to be less than £30 million.

Last year, Mr Trump announced his intention to apply for planning permission for housing and other further development at Menie. No corresponding planning applications have been submitted.

Cllr Paul Johnston said:

“We should deal in facts, not Mr Trump’s media comments. Mr Trump has invested less than £30 million at Menie and makes an operating loss on the course. All else is speculation.”

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Jan 062016
 

trump106featWith thanks to Suzanne Kelly.

Hate speech and prejudice take a beating as Parliament’s Petitions Committee schedules 18 January for a debate on a proposed Donald Trump UK ban for hate speech. An unprecedented 580,000 people have signed an online petition started by Aberdeen Voice contributor Suzanne Kelly.

At 10,000 signatures the government made a response which can be found on the petition website.

Kelly welcomed the strongly-worded response, and replied to it as follows:

“I welcome the Government’s affirmation that it rejects attempts to create division, and that coming to the UK is a privilege which can be denied to those who seek to harm our society and who do not share our basic values.

“Much has happened since the petition was lodged on 28 November. When Trump came out with the astonishing statement in early December that Muslims should be barred from entering the US, it justified the need for this petition. At the time of writing, 567,000 people are asking for the ban.

“Freedom of any kind comes with responsibility; this includes free speech. Freedom of speech is not the freedom to engage in hate. Words can wound and can be a rallying cry to violence. If anyone doubts that speech can cause harm, reflect on how many physical fights start with verbal provocation, and how much harm is caused by verbal bullying in schools and in domestic situations.

“The reality of hate speech’s ability to incite violent acts is why the UK’s laws have stopped some 80 individuals from entering the UK to date. Trump has never, as far as I know, apologised for any of his verbal attacks.

“I am not someone known for wanting to ban one thing or another. Over the years I have fought to stop books and artwork being banned. However, there is a saying- ‘your right to swing your arm ends where my nose begins’. In other words, freedom is not freedom to cause harm to others, and from the facts I personally conclude Donald Trump’s words are demonstrably causing harm. I do not see how the government can do other but ban his future entry.

“An educated person may laugh off Trump’s diatribes, and wonder why any action is needed. Unfortunately not everyone who hears prejudicial, hate-inciting speech stops to question or analyse what they hear. 

“Our government believes hate speech is illegal, witness the many who have been barred UK entry. Most of these banned people were hardly household names, so how much more weight might hate speech carry when it comes from someone who is a television personality, and would-be US president? 

“Trump has money, celebrity and influence. We know that people listen to celebrities; our advertising industry spends millions of pounds on sponsorship because of it. Donald Trump’s fame is helping to spread his hate-filled rhetoric.

“If the UK government needs evidence that Donald Trump’s hate speech can encourage violence, sadly this can be provided.

“The New York Times and other media have documented the surge in violence in America directed at Muslims since the tragic ISIS / fundamentalist attacks in Paris and San Bernardino [1] – and since some high-profile politicians have used these incidents as fuel for hate speech which can escalate problems. Some respected academics are greatly concerned by this trend [2].

“There are cases which link Donald Trump’s influence directly to violence. Californian William Celli attempted to make a pipe bomb with the intention of attacking Muslims. Celli is a huge Trump supporter. Celli said he would ‘Follow Trump to the end of the world.[3]’ The end of the world might well be where they wish to take us. But I for one am not intending to follow them there.

“As I said, my petition predates Donald Trump’s remarks about Muslims; here is the story of a man I had in mind when lodging it: A homeless Hispanic man was attacked in Boston by men who openly say that they were inspired by the words of Donald J Trump.[4] They beat the man with metal poles. They broke his nose. “Donald Trump was right, all these illegals need to be deported,” is what one of the accused said to the police.

“There is no further proof required that hate speech carries consequences and that Donald Trump’s hate speech has directly caused violence.

“George Osborne made a statement to the effect we will not ban Donald Trump. I think the decision is not his alone, and his premature words call for comment. Osborne may feel that “The best way to defeat nonsense like this is to engage in robust and democratic debate, and to make it clear his views are not welcome.[5]” – but that is little comfort to victims of Trump’s hate speech.

“I doubt anyone willing to hit another person with a metal pole because they are homeless and Hispanic is open to persuasion by ‘robust and democratic debate’. Perhaps Mr Osborne wants to change the laws on hate speech that saw the previous bans; but at this point in time, banning Mr Trump is the government’s clear responsibility.

“It will take more than a few harsh paragraphs from the UK’s Prime Minister to send the right message. We need to ban Donald Trump from bringing his violence-inspiring vitriol here.

“Donald Trump is also widely – chillingly – promoting the idea of killing people whose relatives are involved in terrorism. His own words testify why he should be banned from the UK: “…with the terrorists, you have to take out their families.[6]” He did not say they need to be arrested and tried by a recognised court; he said ‘you’ have to ‘take out their families’. It is remarkable a would-be president has such little knowledge and/or respect for international law and conventions.

“Does his statement sound like an incitement to murder? I believe there are those for whom this message could well have violent repercussions. I note that have not heard Trump call for ‘taking out’ the family of Celli, the would-be terrorist pipe bomber who intended to target Muslims. What kind of message shall the UK send back to Trump for his rallying cry for executions?

“If Mr Trump had said he wanted to ban anyone with links to militant violent organisations including ISIS, then that would have been a fairy reasonable statement. But he placed every single Muslim into a group which he says needs to be barred from US entry and monitored. He is perhaps the highest-profile promoter of Islamophobia there is in the entire world.

“As a brief aside, anyone who preaches hate and violence, whatever their reason or religion, is an enemy of the stability which the world desperately needs now. There are serious global issues that require international cooperation, understanding and attention; we cannot allow anyone, even Mr Trump, to fan the flames of hatred. I hope his supporters will think again.

“In 2007 there were between 2 to 7 million Muslims citizens or residents of the United States. What the United Kingdom does with regard to my petition is not just about one man, Donald Trump; it will be sending a message to Trump’s targets, his opponents and his supporters.

“I do hope the UK government will consider all of the repercussions of Donald Trump’s anti-Muslim statements, as well as all of the sexist, racist, and nationalistic remarks he continues to make. The United Kingdom has in this petition an opportunity to say that anyone, even a billionaire, cannot mock people with disabilities, cannot disrespect women or label all Mexicans as drug dealers and rapists and call for them to be walled into Mexico, and still be welcome here.

“Many people will be watching this debate closely. Those who oppose banning Trump will need to explain their decision – not to me – but to 567,000 United Kingdom citizens. Banning Trump may well make us more secure; it would also send a message that there is not one law for the powerful, and another for the poor.

“In opening this petition I ran the risk of being ridiculed, but I have found that half a million people feel as I do. Groups have organised events and other petitions to show support for people being persecuted because of their faith. It is reassuring to see people from different backgrounds coming together to denounce hate speech.

“I am well aware how many problems and how much hatred exists around the world. I am also aware that within living memory an accomplished speaker’s words took the entire world to war and millions died as a result. No one thought that man would get into power. Donald Trump wants to be arguably the most powerful man in the world. If there is a chance that Trump could get into power, then the trajectory of his hate speech and its stated aims cannot be laughed off or dismissed as simple ‘free speech’.

“If the UK government is serious about its stated aims, then this is arguably the strongest, most clear-cut case for banning it has ever had before it. Please side with the half a million strong who make this request as a small step towards a more tolerant and peaceful United Kingdom – and a less hate-filled world.

“I thank the Petitions Committee; the administrators of the petition, the Home Office and the Government for considering this petition; I do not see how this request, made by so many, backed by fact and precedent, can do anything except succeed.”

Sources/links:

[1] http://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/18/us/politics/crimes-against-muslim-americans-and-mosques-rise-sharply.html?_r=0
[2] https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2015/12/12/hate-speech-is-going-mainstream/
[3] http://talkingpointsmemo.com/news/william-celli-arrested-explosives-muslims
[4] http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2015/08/a-trump-inspired-hate-crime-in-boston/401906/
[5] http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/dec/09/petition-calling-for-donald-trump-to-be-banned-from-uk-signed-by-85000
[6] http://www.msnbc.com/msnbc/trump-isis-you-have-take-out-their-families

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Dec 142015
 

With thanks to Suzanne Kelly.

Suzanne Kelly fights her way through the hordes.

With over half a million signatures, the petition to ban Donald Trump from the UK for hate speech has become the fastest ever to qualify for debate in Parliament.
Suzanne Kelly was inspired largely by the events at Aberdeenshire’s Menie Estate, and how residents were treated when Trump began construction for a golf course there.

Now Kelly wants some positive action to fix long-running issues with planning permission and access.

When Donald Trump set out to create his Menie Estate golf complex, he had a huge impact on the environment and area residents. SSSI protection, the highest level of environmental protection there is, was taken from the UK’s only moving sand dune system and its fragile ecosystem. A giant bund of earth was put between Susan Munro’s cottage and her views across the landscape to the sea; this served no functional or desirable purpose.

This bund, well over head height and topped with dead and dying trees, apparently was not part of the agreed plan. Water was cut off to the Forbes’ farm, forcing the farmer and his family – including his elderly mother – to carry water from a nearby stream.

“Imagine hearing bulldozers outside your home, and finding your new neighbour has put an 8 foot high mound of sandy earth between you and your former views to the sea. Imaging campaigning for years and being ignored by your local planning department. How Susie put up with it I don’t know.” says Suzanne Kelly.

Various aspects of the built landscape were changed, in some cases apparently without prior permission from Aberdeenshire planning officials. Michael Forbes, who previously was able to cross the estate to the sea for salmon fishing, had his access blocked – and the police (who normally would not be involved in civil matters) – told him he would be arrested if he touched the new gate or its lock.

Border disputes both with Forbes and David Milne saw existing fencing torn down, and Trump’s people re-drawing the boundaries.

Boundary disputes should have been treated as civil matters, but police were on hand to support Trump, not those living on the land. Gorse seems to have been planted to deter walkers in places, and a huge gate blocking Leyton Farm Road to the Trump parking lot is locked shut, with access impossible for anyone who is infirm.

Efforts to get planning permission rules enforced or to get access rights upheld have fallen on deaf ears at Aberdeenshire’s planning offices, Kelly and residents say. Kelly and many others have written to the local authority for years without success.

Of the Shire’s inaction Kelly says:

“In other cases we have seen people who flaunt planning laws dealt with swiftly and decisively. You could be forgiven for thinking there is a two-tier planning and countryside access system, one for the wealthy, and one for the poor.”

“I’ve written to Trump’s people; I’ve written to the Shire and the government. I am going to ask them again now to re-think making good all of the things that have gone wrong on the estate. It’s my understanding that finally Michael Forbes repaired the damage done to his water supply by Trump’s construction crews – which had happened years ago.  

The film ‘you’ve been trumped’ shows – among other things – the Forbes family, including Molly, having to carry water from a stream for their bathing, tea-making, you name it. The water supply was restored, but was unreliable according to Forbes.”

Forbes was voted ‘Top Scot of the Year’ by the public at Glenfiddich’s Spirit of Scotland Awards in 2012, to Donald Trump’s chagrin. Trump then banned the drink from all his property – with the result that the sales for the prestige whisky surged throughout Scotland.

Kelly continues:

“If I can’t get the Trump organisation, Aberdeenshire planning and the central government to get things made right by asking them nicely now, then I think they will find that some 550,000 people might now also be emailing them to ask for the changes and improvements we want. If we can’t get some swift, decisive action after years of writing about the problems, then the next step will be a protest at Menie.

“Of course, this would be a peaceful, legal event.

“Let’s hope those who can make good at the Estate will do so. For starters, that bund of earth must be taken away – cleanly and without making more mess for Susie Munro. Michael Forbes should immediately be allowed to access the beach in the same way, with the same boats/nets/vehicles as he enjoyed for years before Trump arrived. I think we should hear something positive and see results starting within 10 days.

“If not, I hope everyone’s email servers are up for a wee onslaught of correspondence, and perhaps another March of Menie demonstration, as had been held in the past. I do think the next such march might be a very large affair indeed.”

Kelly has sent a detailed email to Trump, Aberdeenshire Planning, the head of Aberdeenshire Council, and copied it to Nicola Sturgeon.

On the subject of Robert Gordon University and Dr Kennedy, Kelly said:

“Professor Ferdinand von Prondzynski, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of Robert Gordon University, has been in contact, and has made it plain Dr Kennedy’s degree stands, even though he had handed it back to protest the honour bestowed on Trump. I find this and the revocation of Trump’s degree cause for celebration.”

Kelly adds:

“Today I saw on Facebook an open letter BrewDog wrote to Trump. It’s every bit as witty, scathing, and delightful as you’d come to expect. I started buying BrewDog beer from the first days it was made here in Aberdeenshire; James Watt and Martin Dickie sold their first brews from a market stall at Aberdeen’s farmers’ market. I expected great things from them, but never the degree of success they’ve had. 

“It’s kind of how I feel about the strength of support for the Parliamentary Petition. BrewDog also have a slogan, ‘Without us, we are Nothing’ – very apt for this petition I’d say. I’m proud to be one of the over 10,000 shareholders of this ethical, local, successful company.

“Amusingly, the post is attracting a number of posters telling the brewers to shut up/stay out of politics – and the same people are defending Trump’s right to ‘free speech’. It’s more than a little ironic, don’t you think? I don’t remember people saying the same thing when the company gave Putin the ‘BrewDog treatment’ over his anti-gay stance.

“Hate speech is not the same as free speech. That’s why this law, banning over 80 people previously, exists. Hate speech doesn’t work on the rational person who reads many sources of news and makes up their own mind; it falls on the ears of the mob and inflames.

“Occupy Democrats reports a surge in violence against Muslims in the US. To me, there is more than a strong chance this could have been fomented by the hate pouring out of a TV personality/presidential candidate’s mouth. I wonder whether Trump feels any responsibility for that? In my book he should. For me all rights come with responsibilities.

“Are some terrorists claiming their actions are Islamic? Undoubtedly. Are all people following a particular faith to be ostracized? Not if there is the least little thing I can do to stop it.”

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Dec 142015
 

martin-fordWith thanks to Martin Ford.

The change in attutude towards Donald Trump by Scottish politicians from across the political spectrum is long overdue, according to two consistent opponents of Mr Trump.

Aberdeenshire councillors Martin Ford and Paul Johnston say it was obvious in 2006 that Mr Trump was not a suitable person to be appointed a ‘Global Scot’ business ambassador, and it was even more obvious in 2010 that Mr Trump was not a suitable recipient for an honorary degree from Robert Gordon University.

Former first minister Alex Salmond has joined the swelling ranks of politicians who once welcomed Donald Trump to Scotland but are now rushing to condemn the New York businessman in the strongest terms.

Mr Salmond has described Mr Trump’s remarks against Mexicans as ‘most certainly racist’ and Mr Trump’s comments about Muslims as ‘most certainly bigotry’.

Said Cllr Martin Ford:

“The really important point here is the broad consensus in opposition to the views, attitudes and values of Mr Trump. Racism and bigotry should have no place in our society.
 
“Mr Trump’s truly revolting behaviour as a presidential hopeful has seen him shunned by many organisations not wanting to be associated with his obnoxious views.
 
“I would dispute, however, that Mr Trump’s unpleasant attitudes are a recent development. On the contrary, they are a continuation of behaviours that were all too apparent long before Mr Trump showed any interest in embarking on a development here.
 
“No-one should ever have thought bringing Mr Trump to the north-east would be good for our reputation in the world. He was always going to be an embarrassment, not an asset.”
Cllr Paul Johnston said:

“Mr Trump and his golf course have been a divisive issue in the north-east for far too long. At last, it looks as though there is broad agreement; sooking up to Mr Trump was a terrible mistake.

“We need to learn lessons from this unfortunate episode. Next time a dubious billionaire comes round making ridiculous promises, I hope attitudes will be different.”

Meanwhile, the petition to bar Mr Trump from entering the UK has already been signed by more than 550,000 people.
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Dec 112015
 

MartinFordatUTGWith thanks to Martin Ford.

Aberdeenshire councillor Martin Ford has welcomed the massive public support for the petition to block Donald J. Trump from entering the UK. Around 490,000 people had supported the petition by 23.00 on 10 December – making it the largest ever UK-government hosted
petition.
The petition was initiated by Aberdeen resident Suzanne Kelly.

Mr Trump’s recent remarks about Muslims are a potential breach of hate-speech laws, but are certainly highly prejudiced and have caused great offence.

Cllr Martin Ford said:

“The enormous public support for the petition to ban Mr Trump from the UK is a clear demonstration of just how many people see his recent comments as wholly unacceptable. While Mr Trump is routinely rude and grossly offensive, some of his election speeches have crossed the line into incitement of bigotry and racism. And though it seems unlikely, this is a man who could become leader of the world’s most powerful nation.”

Cllr Ford is the councillor whose casting vote saw Aberdeenshire Council decide to refuse planning permission for Donald Trump’s proposed golf resort at Menie in 2007. Councillors supportive of Mr Trump then removed Cllr Ford from his position of chair of the Council’s Infrastructure Services Committee 13 days later.

Cllr Ford said:

“Mr Trump’s recent comments have, rightly, attracted strong criticism from all sides. It’s now hard to find anyone who admits to supporting him.

“Clearly, times have changed. Even local North-east politicians, who would previously never criticise Mr Trump, have stopped backing him.”

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