Tell Trump what we think – but never stop listening
Imagine for a moment that ten years ago it was suggested that the US would elect a president with Scottish roots. A man who loved golf. Whose mother came from the Scottish islands. Who talked fondly about Scotland to the world and who had even put his money where his mouth is, building a new golf resort and purchasing and investing in another.
Wow. What an opportunity.
In this scenario Scotland would surely do everything to woo this individual, to ensure that we maximised every potential business, tourism and PR opportunity possible. Such a thing could only be regarded as a gift.
Today, we have such a US president, but rather than laud him we are protesting against him, often in the coarsest terms possible. We portray him as a baby, use four letter words in slogans and do our utmost to tell him he’s not welcome here.
Donald Trump brings this on himself. Any humility or tenderness passed on by his mother, Mary MacLeod, from Lewis, has long been quashed. Trump is now a braggart and a bully whose attitudes to women and ethnic minorities alone make it difficult for Scots to find common cause.
Protesting is a fundamental part of our democratic rights. And it was deeply disappointing to hear another Scot – the International Trade Secretary Liam Fox – say yesterday that the protesters were an “embarrassment to themselves”. For a government minister to suggest the public should not express their opinion is worrying.
He must know that Trump has said and done many things that have deeply offended people across Scotland and the UK. Including giving an interview to the Sun where he criticised Britain’s own prime minister – the leader of his party – for not taking his advice on Brexit. The arrogance is breathtaking.
Where Fox is correct is that this shouldn’t stop us engaging with Trump. Like it or not he is the president and the US remains a key ally as well as an important market for Scottish and British business. Furthermore, is Trump any worse than some of the other leaders who have walked into Downing Street or Chequers? African dictators? Middle Eastern and Asian leaders with questionable human rights records? Indeed all of us in life, in business, have to work alongside people whose values we don’t share.
So, it was good to hear First Minister Nicola Sturgeon saying she would have met Trump had he asked, and that her opposition to him was about politics not personalities. Our leaders cannot afford to put personalities before the wellbeing of their country. Theresa May should also be applauded for keeping her cool when it would have been so tempting to call Trump out on his own fake news.
But the public doesn’t need to show that restraint. If they want to protest they should. Scotland still loves America, it’s just Donald Trump we have a problem with.