How Donald was trumped
The Guardian, byLesley Riddoch
As his controversial golf course finally opens, the tycoon should take a few lessons in humility from Andy Murray – a real Scottish hero.
First came The Murray, then came The Donald. Unfortunately for the American golf and property tycoon, there couldn’t be a more topical, powerful and less flattering comparison. It should have been Donald Trump’s day of triumph as his controversial golf course at Balmedie near Aberdeen finally opened in the presence of golfing great Colin Montgomerie. Don’t get me wrong. The course – constructed on bulldozed sand dunes and designed by the Royal and Ancient’s preferred architect – is apparently world class. George O’Grady, the European Tour chief executive, says it has been "very sympathetically done and is a true classic links". Sandy Jones, PGA chief executive, says: "It is going to be a great venue. I can’t see why it would not hold a great tournament."
Well done, Donald. Against all the odds, a challenging 18-hole golf course has been built on a flattened site of special scientific interest, around homes of embattled locals on an isolated moorland devoid of creature comforts. Locals have been pitted against locals, councillors have lost seats, changed parties, changed their minds and become laughing stocks across Scotland. Alex Salmond was in danger of going the same way after his Scottish government intervened to rescue Trump’s rejected plan – but the first minister has mercifully been kicked into the long grass for daring to back the construction of offshore wind turbines beyond "Donald’s" dunes.
Quietly there has been mirth. Quietly too there are doubts about the longevity of the Menie golf course without the hotel and housing complex needed to make the "world’s best golf course" wash its face. Nothing feels very good about Trump’s "sporting triumph". But then nothing’s felt that good lately for Scots – a nation with no male athletes in the Team GB track and field squad, no hope Rangers will recover from financial meltdown, and no sellout games (yet) during the Olympics football at Hampden.
And then Andy Murray came along. Sunday’s Wimbledon final let 17 million Brits survey the skill, hard work, sincerity and emotional intensity of this gruff 25-year-old Scot – and finally offer some admiration, respect, maybe even affection in exchange. He lost … but he won.
Trump has contrived to do the opposite. It’s hard to think of a less sympathetic character in the eyes of most Scots. Despite all his tartanry and trumpeting of heritage, this uncomfortable fusion of Simon Cowell and Andrew Neil has become the anti-Scot personified in the course of bulldozing his Grampian dream into existence.
It takes quite a lot to unite the people of this notoriously fractious little country in a collective shudder. But Trump has effortlessly managed to strike the wrong note in just about everything he’s done. He sneered at locals in modest homes who wouldn’t move out of his way. He bragged about his power and wealth. He designed a hotel that made Disneyland look culturally authentic. He staged, posed toe-curlingly brazen photocalls. He struck a bullying manner with staff, reporters, supporters and opponents.
He made endless reference to Hebridean roots – among root-bound Scots unaccustomed to the endless and self-conscious display of national credentials. He used pictures of rusting Hawaiian wind-turbines in misleading Scottish newspaper ads to oppose a renewables test centre supported by every political party and business organisation in the north-east.
In his bizarre appearance before Holyrood’s energy committee, Trump explained his opposition to the planned European Offshore Wind Deployment Centre – a test centre that should help reduce the need for onshore wind farms – by calling it a "tourism-crushing eyesore". Asked for proof, he responded with the unforgettable line, "I am the evidence." It grabbed headlines – it also sealed the man’s fate.
Every attribute Scots hold dear has been offended by this man – and yet attention and hostility have served only to feed his overwrought sense of self-importance. Scots get so few billionaire buffoons it’s no wonder we have been mesmerised. But let’s be clear. Donald Trump represents next to no one in Scotland except Donald Trump.
Perhaps it’s not too late for the great man to take a few lessons in humility from the unexpected Scottish hero of July 2012 – Andy Murray.