All photos courtesy of RISE
Donald Trump has never been quiet about his love for Scotland, where he boasts not only family heritage but a string of business investments. Sadly for the billionaire magnate and would-be US President, Scotland has not offered him much love in return. On Sunday, around 50 left-wing activists barged their way into two of Trump's hotel resorts in Scotland, in an action designed to disrupt the business operations of a man protesters dubbed "one of the world's most prominent racists".
Not that Trump's reputation in the UK can really sink much lower. On Monday night, the House of Commons will see MPs debate whether the man who wants to Make America Great Again should be barred from entering the UK, following his now-notorious promise to place an embargo on Muslims entering the US. While these remarks – and his wider campaign's reliance on an inflammatory brand of hard-right populism – may have won him a lot of enemies at home and abroad, Scotland harbours a special kind of hatred for Trump that stretches back a decade.
It was in 2006 that the tycoon announced ambitions to open a golf resort in the country, and amid much fawning from local politicians, he dropped by two years later to see the Hebridean cottage in which his grandmother was raised. But The Donald's honeymoon with Scotland quickly went sour as his quaint, kilted, Highland fantasy didn't quite square with the reality of the bitter and drawn-out fight he had to wage to open his golf resort north of Aberdeen. After years of arguing with local residents who were worried about eviction, and battling with environmentalists over plans to bulldoze a delicate sand dune ecosystem, the golf resort eventually opened in 2012.
But this being Donald Trump, he has still found plenty to complain about since, with an offshore wind farm near his golf course being a particular gripe. Trump's occasional and ever more perplexing interventions in the British media have also seen him embark on a war of words with former SNP leader Alex Salmond, which I'd guess isn't the sort of activity that POTUS hopefuls typically preoccupy themselves with. At least it makes a change from 2008, when it was alleged that Salmond had gone out of his way to accommodate Trump's development, overruling its initial rejection by local councillors.
Around 50 protestors briefly invaded Trump's two Scottish hotels at the weekend, citing the "reputational damage" that his association with Scotland is causing the country, and their bid to "oppose racism in all its forms". The action was staged by RISE, an upstart left-wing political alliance which is aiming to secure its first seats in the Scottish Parliament when elections come around in May. Andi Rossetter, a RISE candidate who was at the Aberdeenshire protest, told VICE that the protestors entered the hotel for around an hour, and eventually left after police were called to the building. In a statement, RISE added that the protest aimed to "disrupt, however briefly, Trump's ability to generate profit in Scotland that will then be spent on his campaign of racist demonisation and scapegoating in the US".
The action comes just weeks after Trump was stripped of two accolades – a Scottish Government business ambassador role and a university honours degree – that were festooned on him at a time when authorities in Scotland were trying to woo the tycoon's investment. Trump responded to this insult with characteristic aplomb, penning a short article for Aberdeen-based newspaper the Press and Journal in which he noted that he has "done so much for Scotland", that he will be the smartest and toughest President of all time, and that his Aberdeen venture is "what many believe to be one of the greatest golf courses anywhere in the world".
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"We've already had some feedback from Trump's supporters on social media, so we're hoping Trump hears about it and that he gets the message he isn't welcome here," Rossetter said after Sunday's protest. "If he does become the Republican nominee, we will be stepping up this campaign and we look forward to the day when Trump takes his investment out of Scotland. Many of us were there before the hotel and golf course were built, and we'll be back again."
Trump has yet to publicly respond to Sunday's invasion of his Scottish golf resorts by an angry rabble of socialists. But given his obsession with proving his own righteousness, it would be foolish to rule out Trump dedicating a portion of his next tubthumping rally to denouncing the far-left fanatics holding Scotland to ransom, or to assume that he hasn't already fired off an angry letter to a provincial newspaper. Whatever way the Republican nomination eventually goes, Scotland's rocky relationship with Donald J Trump looks like it has some way to go.
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