Monday, 17 December 2007

The Odd Couple: Trump and Salmond

One has big hair, a $2.9bn fortune and an ego the size of the moon. The other is a former racing tipster whose own prodigious vanity is swollen by the knowledge that he is his nation's most impressive politician.

They are an unlikely pair, Donald Trump, US tycoon, and Alex Salmond, First Minister. But they have conspired to plunge Scotland into something approaching a political crisis.

Two years ago, Trump, who proudly proclaims Scottish heritage, announced plans for a luxury golf resort on a windswept, lonely stretch of the Aberdeenshire coast. He expected the move to divide environmentalists from the business community, and it did. Now, though, it has turned uglier, with bitter claims of American bullying and Scottish toadying.

Where others see windswept dunes and hear only the relentless squawking of oystercatchers, Trump harbours a dream for a 2,000-acre seaside estate with two championship links golf courses, a new clubhouse, a modern gothic hotel, 500 private homes nearby and 950 timeshare flats. All accompanied by the joyous tinkle of cash registers.

Until two weeks ago, Trump had every reason to believe this huge venture would become a reality. His promise to deliver more than 1,000 permanent jobs and inject £47m into the local economy had wowed businessmen and journalists. He claimed 91 per cent support in the community. And he seemed to have convinced the local Member of the Scottish Parliament; the fact that this was Salmond, the SNP leader, appeared to seal the deal.

More at the Independent on Sunday:The Odd Couple

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