Over the past week, the news has been full of stories regarding the donor crisis surrounding New Labour. Day after day the revelations have been coming. There are two things I have to say about this, firstly I am amazed that Wendy Alexander is still the leader of the New Labour group at Holyrood. I thought that she was toast reading the Sunday Herald at the weekend. Secondly, I can’t believe how bored I am with all the coverage. Actually bored is probably the wrong word, but I just feel completely unmoved by it all (I notice that the BBC's Political Editor, Nick Robinson is equally unmoved). In sharp contrast, the story which has got my nostrils piqued this week concerns the stramash surrounding Donald Trumps plans to build a golf resort, hotel and some holiday homes. Oh and also some houses too.
This story blew up last week when the Infrastructure Committee of Aberdeenshire Council blocked these proposals. The reasons given by the chair, Councillor Martin Ford, are.. . “It broke a whole raft of planning policies in relation to environmental protection, housing in the countryside and it had wider implications in terms of the council's whole approach to biodiversity conservation and the environment."
Now these seem like reasonable reasons for blocking a large development, yet supporters of the development have behaved incredibly since this vote was taken. Councillors have called for votes of confidence (and the resignation of) in Councillor Ford. The tone appears to have been set by George Sorial, who said after the proposals were blocked “It is our position that the council has failed to adequately represent the voice and opinion of the people of Aberdeen and the Shire who are ultimately the losers here”.
You would have thought that the Trump Organisation would dust itself off, amend the plans and appeal the decision. Yea right. The vitriol aimed at these councillors has been both terrible and yet suspicious, and it shows the ugly “Parcel o rogues” side of the Scottish psyche to itself. Sadly SNP politicians have been at the forefront of the attacks on Aberdeen Council, with the local MSP Brian Adam calling for Martin Ford’s resignation. The “calling in” of the planning application, to be investigated & discussed by the SNP government at Holyrood is the biggest slap in the face, and the biggest undermining of Scottish local government since re-organisation in 1994.
The SNP government have taken a huge risk over this, not in parliament because the move has been welcomed by all parties, but the perception of the government is at risk. If the proposals pass with amendments, the government will have done a skilful job. If however, the proposals pass unaltered, it will send a dangerous message to the world. Scotland is for sale. That will be a very big black mark for this SNP administration.