Jonathan Hughes: Trump battle was lost but the war continues
AFTER seven years of bitter battles between Donald Trump, environmental bodies and local people, his infamous golf course finally opened yesterday, near Aberdeen.
The occasion was more a mix of muffled applause and distant boos than the glittering ceremony originally promised. This is due in large part to the scores of enemies, including Scotland’s First Minister, that Mr Trump has made throughout the painful birth of this environmentally destructive project.
Trump has become a classic pantomime villain, and in doing so has ensured enormous amounts of free publicity for his venture. Most golf courses open with a bit of local press; not his.
The danger is that in getting distracted by the pantomime, we are failing to debate some nationally important questions provoked by this unsustainable development.
The battle over the course has become a symbol for the kind of Scotland we want to live in. Do we want a just society that values communities, our natural environment and a sense of fair play, or should the future be about the pursuit of wealth at all costs?
There are worrying parallels with the moral crisis in the banking sector. In the same way bankers are bending and breaking the rules, so local and national politicians bent the rules for Mr Trump.
Yes, he was very adept at manipulating journalists, captains of industry and naive politicians, and manipulated they were.
So what path for Scotland post-Trump? It’s a cliché, but we hope that though this battle has been lost, the war is still to be won. I am very optimistic that in the future we will realign our economic system so it values natural and social capital as much as it currently values financial capital.
We will do this because there is an imperative to do it, and combined with the relentless inventiveness of the human spirit we will, in the end, learn how to live within environmental limits.
History is unlikely to judge Trump and his project kindly. We have to hope this folly of a development will be the last of its kind in Scotland.
• Jonathan Hughes is conservation director at the Scottish Wildlife Trust.
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Saturday 25 May 2013
Temperature: 6 C to 17 C
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