THE bitter feud between former First Minister Alex Salmond and US presidential hopeful Donald Trump was reopened yesterday after the SNP MP challenged the mogul to a live radio debate.
The fractious relationship between the two men has taken a turn for the worse in recent days, with Mr Salmond using his inaugural phone-in show on a London commercial radio station to question the scale of Mr Trump’s investments in Scotland.
The war of words continued yesterday, with Mr Trump lambasting Mr Salmond as a “stupid man” and “an “embarrassment to Scotland” while renewing his attack on the Scottish Government’s “disgraceful” decision to release on humane grounds Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi, the only man convicted of the 1988 Lockerbie bombing.
In response to a question from a caller during his LBC show on Wednesday afternoon, Mr Salmond had suggested the US billionaire had overstated his investment in Aberdeenshire and that his ownership of the prestigious Turnberry golf resort in Ayrshire could cost the Scottish economy £100 million if it is excluded from the Open Championship circuit.
But in a tersely worded statement, the Republican presidential contender said Mr Salmond had “destroyed big sections of the Scottish landscape” with wind farms and defended his business strategy, stressing that “very little necessary” capital was being spent at Turnberry until be bought it over in 2014.
Mr Trump added: “For a long period of time Turnberry, while always successful, was not properly reinvigorated with the massive amounts of capital necessary. I am investing a minimum of £200m initially, including rebuilding and renovating the great Ailsa course, a new second course and the total renovation of the magnificent Turnberry hotel, which is already under construction.
“In future years far more money will be invested.”
Responding to Mr Trump’s attacks, Mr Salmond, the MP for Gordon and MSP for Aberdeenshire East, stood by his claims.
He 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 Turnberry places it effectively out of The Open Championship circuit at a cost of £100m to the Scottish economy.
“His legal objections to wind demonstrators in Aberdeen have thus far deprived the North-east of Scotland of a vital £200m into offshore wind technology at a time of great difficulty in oil and gas.”
Mr Salmond also invited the businessman to talk to him directly by phoning into his radio slot next week.
“If he has a beef I’ll be happy to take his call,” Mr Salmond added. “We’ll see if debating here is as easy as debating over there.”