You've Been Trumped, BBC Two | TV reviews, news & interviews
You've Been Trumped, BBC Two
Powerful David v Goliath polemic pitches Donald Trump against the citizens of north-east Scotland
It has never been easier to get sucked into a warm, simplistic sensibility which portrays every rich capitalist businessman as corrupt and amoral, but you spend 90 minutes watching Donald Trump in action and you start to wonder. If Trump didn't exist you suspect Martin Amis would invent him. He would probably call his caricature of a dastardly US business tycoon Donald Shit.
Anthony Baxter’s powerful, unashamedly partisan film pitches a number of principled Davids against this gammon-faced, lizard-eyed, overcombed Goliath. The story begins in 2006, when Trump first set his sights on the Menie Estate, just north of Aberdeen, as a home to Trump International Golf Course. His vision: a £1bn investment to build “the world’s greatest golf course” with hotels, apartments and villas. There was a problem, however. The dunes (pictured below) are a designated wilderness environment given accolade status. Not only do they have unique scientific value, they are also home to numerous forms of wildlife.
Trump’s first application, therefore, was rejected by the local council on the grounds that it failed the sustainable development test “in spades”, according to Green councillor Martin Ford. Then something unprecedented occurred: the Scottish Government called in the application, taking it out of the council’s hands. This has never happened before. They reversed the original veto and gave the project the green light. The estate is in First Minister Alex Salmond’s constituency.
The argument was that the benefits to the local community through new jobs and tourist expenditure outweighed the environmental concerns. Fine, except the project was contracted to an Irish company, and much of the casual work was given to migrant labour. And with the Trump complex designed to be entirely self-contained, experts predict the positive impact on local economy will be negligible, certainly compared to the negative impact on the environment.
That Trump’s cash was allowed to run roughshod over planning legislation and environmental issues is one thing. But what about the human cost? This film narrowed in on the impact on the lives of the people living in proximity to the golf site, and in particular Michael Forbes, a farmer who refused to sell his land and was thus subjected to a tirade of personal denigration and character assassination from Trump. “I don’t think guests in my hotel want to look down into a slum,” he said. “He lives like a pig; it’s disgusting.”
Forbes' (pictured left) hands and forearms are festooned with tattoos; he speaks in impenetrable Doric which often requires subtitles. You can see why Trump views him with nothing but contempt; you can also see why Baxter loves him, wittily quoting from the 1983 film Local Hero, about another quiet, intransigent local eccentric who refused to bow to the Yankee business dollar.
We see the cause uniting farmers, artists, fisherman, academics. When Trump is awarded an honorary degree at Robert Gordon University, the former principal returns his honorary degree in disgust. Former Clash producer Mickey Foote now lives in the area and makes an entertainingly committed activist.
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