Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has been asked to use her influence to ban US presidential hopeful Donald Trump from visiting Scotland. While other US candidates seeking nomination in the Republican and Democrat parties have been left reeling and helpless by the outpourings of racism, bigotry and xenophobia unleashed in Trump’s speeches, it could fall to Sturgeon to silence the unruly billionaire.
It is no secret that Trump is a big fan of Scotland, where he has business interests and two golf courses, but the tycoon, who has already had several bruising encounters in his dealings with the SNP-led government, may finally have met his match. “Donald Trump’s comments are obnoxious and offensive,” the first minister told MEMO, “and have rightly been condemned by people across the political spectrum, in the United States and elsewhere. Mr Trump’s views are repugnant, and they clearly do not represent the mainstream views of people across America.”
Sturgeon is being asked to investigate ways of wielding her political power to ban Trump from Scotland and possibly curtail his business activities. SNP politicians from Westminster to Holyrood are being urged by constituents to ask her to intervene and tell the billionaire that he is no longer welcome, despite his multi-million dollar business investments.
Whatever happens in Scotland, Trump is, however, guaranteed to get the red carpet treatment in Israel where he has dabbled in real estate. About a decade ago, he bought a site in Tel Aviv with plans to build Israel’s tallest building but later sold the plot to a local company. In 2012, Trump met with Israel’s tourism minister to discuss possible investments in real estate and tourism, according to the Israeli news website Ynet.
“We love Israel,” Trump has declared. “We will fight for Israel 100 per cent, 1,000 per cent. It will be there forever.” Before the 2013 elections, he recorded a video message endorsing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. “He’s a winner, he’s highly respected, he’s highly thought of by all,” he claimed in a 30-second slot. “Vote for Benjamin — terrific guy, terrific leader, great for Israel.”
It is not surprising, especially since his “ban all Muslims” outburst, that Palestinians are watching the race to the White House with even more trepidation than usual. According to some polls, Trump is now the leading contender to become the Republican Party’s candidate for US president, such is the growth of his popularity among right-wing voters. This is despite the fact that his latest call for a “total and complete shutdown” of the country’s borders to Muslims in the wake of the San Bernardino terrorist attack has outraged many millions of Muslims and their supporters around the world.
While he has so far shown nothing but contempt towards his detractors – including the incumbent US President Barack Obama – Trump might be forced to sit up and listen if Nicola Sturgeon takes him to task. He needs the goodwill of the Scottish Government and its people to drive ahead with his plans for the development and growth of his golfing interests in Ayrshire and Aberdeen.
Meanwhile, some Scottish citizens are pushing ahead with their own initiatives in a bid to silence the American demagogue. Suzanne Kelly from Aberdeen, who objected strongly to the Trump International Golf Links in Menie, Aberdeenshire, which has divided opinion for many years, has now launched a petition to ban him. The petition asks the British government to block Trump from entering the country. Citing his hate speeches in which he has described Mexican immigrants as rapists and his derogatory comments about Muslims, her petition calls on Trump to be banned “from UK entry for his continued, unrepentant hate speech and unacceptable behaviour. His unacceptable behaviour is well documented, and we feel it foments racial, religious and nationalistic intolerance which should not be welcome in the UK.”
Elsewhere, another petition calling for Donald Trump to be stripped of an honorary degree awarded by an Aberdeen university has been signed by more than 3,500 people. The petition accuses the tycoon of “hate speech”. Harry Potter author JK Rowling said in a tweet on Tuesday morning that her arch villain Lord Voldemort wasn’t nearly “as bad as the business mogul” Trump.
“We respectfully request that Robert Gordon University strips Donald Trump of the honorary degree it bestowed on him with immediate effect,” says the petition. “Why is this important? We feel that Donald Trump’s unrepentant, persistent verbal attacks on various groups of people based on nationality, religion, race and physical abilities are a huge detriment to RGU.”
On receiving his honorary degree, Trump said that it was “a great university and a great honour” but not everyone was pleased. At the time, David Kennedy, RGU’s principal between 1987 and 1997, said that he was “appalled” at the decision to award the degree.
Trump’s South Carolina speech this week coincided with the 74th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour that led America into World War Two. While saying that his proposed ban on Muslims entering the US was “probably not politically correct, but I don’t care”, his rival presidential candidates insisted that this was evidence that Trump is “unhinged”.
Donald Trump’s television, business and political achievements have been pockmarked by a series of outrageous statements and hyperbole which have little or no foundation. His long distance relationship with facts and the truth seem not to matter to his army of supporters as he bids to become the next president of the United States.
According to one Holyrood observer, he has already raised Sturgeon’s hackles after criticising the newly-elected Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for appointing a cabinet 50 per cent of whose members are women. When asked if he would do the same if he because US President, he said no. “He is a windbag and although he is riding high in a few polls this will not influence the First Minister,” the source told me.
In fact, the US billionaire has had several skirmishes with the Scottish government over offshore wind farm licences granted near one of his golf courses. Using his wealth, lawyers and the social networks, he sued to block the wind farm, pushing legal challenges all the way to the Scottish Supreme Court. In June this year he launched a blistering attack on Alex Salmond over the government-approved projects near his Trump Turnberry Golf Course in Ayrshire. He called Salmond a “stupid bull” before brushing aside the legal tussle as temporary and declared his Aberdeenshire course to be poised to become the permanent home of the Scottish Open golf championship. Hosting the Scottish Open, one of the biggest events on the sport’s European Tour, would be a major coup, and while tour officials said that no final decision had been made about its venue from 2017, Trump insisted that the parties are already working on the “final documents”.
His upbeat tone and Turnberry acquisition mark something of an about-turn from past declarations that his company would focus all of its investment outside Scotland because of plans for an 11-turbine wind farm off the coast of Menie. Vowing to appeal and overturn the decision to proceed with the £230m European Offshore Wind Deployment Centre, Trump said that he was confident that the project would not go ahead, and hit out at Scotland’s former first minister for what he said was the stubborn folly of pursuing the “obsolete” technology of wind power.
He insisted that subsidies for wind power are sending Scottish taxes “literally through the roof”. Asked which taxes he was referring to, he said “all taxes”, although in recent years, the rates of income, council and value added tax have all either been steady or fallen in Scotland.
The man is clearly a bully who believes that his vast wealth makes him invincible. The American electorate may yet be fooled by all of this bluster, but it is to be hoped that Nicola Sturgeon will be able to curb his ambitions, in Scotland if nowhere else.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.