How will Scotland react to Donald Trump’s visit?

A visit by Donald Trump to Scotland is likely to lead to massive protests. Picture: Pete Maclaine/i-Images
A visit by Donald Trump to Scotland is likely to lead to massive protests. Picture: Pete Maclaine/i-Images
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Donald Trump is no stranger to Scotland.

As the President held court with Theresa May last month, he fondly recalled coming to his mother’s homeland where he boldly predicted the Brexit vote.

Sadly, like so much of what the brash billionaire says, this was false. He had actually arrived to open his Turnberry Golf Course development the day after the Brexit vote, which isn’t much of a prediction.

Trump’s connections to our little corner of the world extend perhaps deeper than any other foreign leader in history.

His Mother, Mary, hailed from the Western Isles, and he has substantial business interests through his controversial golf courses.

The bullying style, win-at-all-costs approach and his absence of perspective were not alien to Scotland, who recall him paying protesters to back his stance on wind farms, and declaring that the renewable energy project would be Scotland’s worst disaster since Lockerbie.

But with fears Trump’s boorish behaviour could embarrass the Queen, and Speaker John Bercow blocking a speech in Parliament, his dance card for his upcoming state visit is suddenly remarkably empty.

But if he does decide to return to his ancestral homeland – what might happen? Here are some potential outcomes.

It’s possible that the arrival of a figure as controversial as the 45th President of the United States could lead to some of the biggest protests in our history.

225,000 marched to Make Poverty History in 2005, and while organisers of an anti-Trump protest might not have a number that high in mind, anything less than six figures could be seen as a disappointment.

Nearly 2 million people, the vast majority of them UK-based, have signed a petition calling for Trump’s state visit to be revoked.

Tens of thousands took part in impromptu demonstrations last week, and with state visits often being planned months in advance, organisers would find it much easier to galvanise.

Sometimes a mass protest isn’t what you’re after. Some of the most iconic images of Trump in Scotland have come from individuals.

A c-word adorned sign from a Scottish comedian and a Mexican Mariachi band hired by a betting company were among the sights that greeted Trump’s post-Brexit visit last year.

Arguably the funniest picture of Trump is the one where he is confronted by an environmental campaigner in Scotland, who applies a balloon to the infamous Presidential hairdo with hilarious results.

There were gasps of horror when Theresa May’s ‘critical friend’ approach to Trump was less critical and more friendly.

Unless her political capital takes a massive hit from Brexit, the Prime Minister will likely continue her deferential approach, while other world leaders openly clash with the President, although whether that takes place in Scotland, where both are unpopular, remains to be seen.

Nigel Farage, who has been virtually chased out of the country several times, might travel to see his hero Trump, but if not, David Coburn can be relied on to flood the airwaves with pro-Trump messages.

State visits are normally relatively bi-partisan events, with leaders of the opposition and even devolved leaders often given time to press the flesh with a visiting leader.

If Donald Trump does come North, it will be interesting to see whether First Minister Nicola Sturgeon will honour her pre-election pledge to ‘dingy’ Trump, or whether the allure of meeting the world’s most powerful man will prove too much.

Sturgeon’s rhetoric has notably softened since Trump’s unlikely November win, taking a call from the triumphant President, and issuing a warm congratulatory message.

Don’t expect to see the SNP leader on the streets with an anti-Trump banner.

No matter what happens, Trump’s visit will be one of the most keenly watched in history, a normal dull and pomp affair will be given his trademark bombast.

You can be sure Scotland will feature prominently in his ideal itinerary, and you can be doubly sure it’s going to be controversial.

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