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We're blighted by trumped up 'rules'

If Scotland really wants to be the best small country in an increasingly competitive world, we have to present ourselves professionally and use every asset we have to grab what is going. Alternatively, we can sit back and watch developments like the Trump project go to England, France or Spain. Then will we be happy?

THE hardest thing about going away on holiday is coming back. Especially when Scotland has never seemed more small-minded and petty.

Last October in New York, I was on hand when American billionaire Donald Trump swept out of the gold elevators in Trump Tower and grabbed Jack McConnell by the hand. "He's the King of Scotland," he boomed at the First Minister before turning to mere subjects like me.

I asked Trump if he could do business in Scotland and he waxed lyrical for five minutes about his mother's birthplace in the Hebrides and the changes brought by devolution, but gave away no more than that.

Then the two men disappeared into a brief private meeting. Six months on, Trump wants to spend 300 million on a golf course and housing and hotel development, providing much-needed jobs and investment in rural Aberdeenshire. But, of course, that's a cause for friction and strife amongst those miserable, mean-spirited antagonists who just can't miss the chance to turn good news into bad.

A newspaper claimed Jack McConnell "may have" broken rules requiring government ministers to stay neutral about planning applications before they are considered by the local authority. Local councillor Debra Storr claims: "I... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

THE hardest thing about going away on holiday is coming back. Especially when Scotland has never seemed more small-minded and petty.
 
Last October in New York, I was on hand when American billionaire Donald Trump swept out of the gold elevators in Trump Tower and grabbed Jack McConnell by the hand. "He's the King of Scotland," he boomed at the First Minister before turning to mere subjects like me.
 
I asked Trump if he could do business in Scotland and he waxed lyrical for five minutes about his mother's birthplace in the Hebrides and the changes brought by devolution, but gave away no more than that.
 
Then the two men disappeared into a brief private meeting. Six months on, Trump wants to spend £300 million on a golf course and housing and hotel development, providing much-needed jobs and investment in rural Aberdeenshire. But, of course, that's a cause for friction and strife amongst those miserable, mean-spirited antagonists who just can't miss the chance to turn good news into bad.
 
A newspaper claimed Jack McConnell "may have" broken rules requiring government ministers to stay neutral about planning applications before they are considered by the local authority. Local councillor Debra Storr claims: "I haven't seen anything that's a clear breach, but it has a bad smell about it."
 
Or maybe it's just the fish. Relishing any chance to put the boot in, the Greens have jumped on the bandwagon. Taking a break from trying to return us to the Stone Age, they are waving their Fair Trade Birkenstock sandals in anger.
 
"There should be an investigation into McConnell's conduct. If he put as much effort into getting our renewable energy projects off the ground as he has spent trying to impress rich businessmen from abroad, then the future of Scotland would be in much safer hands," said a hand-knitted spokesperson.
 
Please take a moment to read that again to appreciate the sheer idiocy, then decide what you would like Scotland's leader to concentrate on. According to the Greens, he should ignore the prospect of a £300m investment and hundreds of resulting jobs and, instead, focus on Fergus and his wind turbine in Caithness and a professor who has an interesting wave machine under tests in the Outer Hebrides.
 
That remoteness from the real world as it affects ordinary people is why the Greens will never be taken seriously at the heart of politics. The First Minister's spokesman is seeking to defuse this ugly and unpleasant saga by emphasising Jack McConnell was careful not to discuss details and instead concentrated on broader issues of inward investment during his talks. That's certainly how it looked to me.
 
But even if they had discussed it directly, so what? Maybe the code of conduct regarding the First Minister and major planning issues needs to be reassessed. Trump is one of the richest businessmen in the world, so it's hardly surprising he wants to talk to the man in charge of Scotland.
 
Who can blame him when the alternative is Debra Storr and the others who dominate parish pump politics. John Loveday, chairman of the Formartine Area Committee which will decide the Trump planning application, said: "We may welcome this development but we take the decision and we object to people saying it will go ahead when it won't necessarily. We will make the decision."
 
Of course, no-one wants to deny Mr Loveday his 30 seconds of fame at the planning meeting and his subsequent photograph in the local paper, but these are big stakes, impacting on Scotland's global reputation. That may be lost on local politicians but it is very clear to local voters who have hit back in the Aberdeen Press and Journal.
 
"Let's stop moaning, Donald Trump is giving the North-East a fantastic opportunity," wrote one.
 
"It would be just typical if some jumped-up councillor ruined the best investment opportunity that will ever come to the North East of Scotland," pointed out another.
 
We should not be a rollover for every millionaire who wants to see a development only on their terms. But neither can we afford to be the bitter, small-minded nation that looks a gift horse in the mouth because of jealousy and petty squabbles over who is in charge of what tiny slice of pie.
 
If Scotland really wants to be the best small country in an increasingly competitive world, we have to present ourselves professionally and use every asset we have to grab what is going. Alternatively, we can sit back and watch developments like the Trump project go to England, France or Spain. Then will we be happy?
 
Minders keepers makes for a good break
IT was without doubt the safest holiday of my life. The former vice president of Syria was staying in my hotel on a tiny Caribbean island with his family, taking a break from his life in exile plotting to over-throw the current president.
 
As you can imagine, in the Middle East that doesn't go down very well so to begin with I feared assassination attempts might just take the edge off relaxing in the sun.
 
Then I spotted the elite team of Korean bodyguards who followed the Syrians everywhere, keeping them and everyone around them out of harm's way.
 
Suddenly I realised it was safe to leave valuables by the pool, safe to leave my door unlocked and safe even to walk the beach at midnight as a muscle-bound heavy was never far away. My wife kept suggesting I ran at them with a well-filled water pistol. Can't imagine why.


Source: http://news.scotsman.com/o...

APR 27 2006
https://www.windaction.org/posts/2337-we-re-blighted-by-trumped-up-rules
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