Like all National Anthems the Star Spangled Banner has more verses than the one commonly known, in this case song before any sporting or public event no matter what the level. But the lines above coming from the opening of the fourth verse are particularly poignant. Of course the recurring theme through the verses is, the land of the free.
America revels in its freedom, free speech, state free from religion, freedom to bear arms. It's history is full of periods and places were men have gone into the unknown to stake claims on land. Admittedly not all of that was totally unoccupied, the native Americans often suffered at the settlers hands. But now one of those Americans is taking freedom too far and the wrong way.
The American in question is Donald Trump. Last I looked he was not an elected representative in nay part of the UK. He may own some land over here but even then he would only have one vote, if he were to settle etc. However, his latest attempt to get his golf course development through planning is to attempt to ban the four most vocal opponents on Aberdeenshire Council banned from taking part in forthcoming decisions about the development and any use of compulsory purchase orders he is hoping to push through.
Yeah the man from the land of free is not elected to serve the people of Balmedie, where Trump owns the Menie Estate. Indeed George Sorial, the Trump executive running the project, has gone so far as to say:
"Enough is enough. The organisation will no longer tolerate their lack of respect for ethical standards. These scoundrels have to be stopped."
There are a lot of ethical questions that have been raised by this development. Although some where answered last week when the Standard Commission found that Debra Storr had not breached the Code of Conduct following Trump complaints. Compulsory purchase orders for a for profit development. Trying to apply English and Welsh trespass law over Scottish right to roam law. Trying to stop elected representatives from going about their constitutional rights to visit constituents or represent them over a matter that directly affects them. It sounds like the Trump Organisation want a Politburo in the council chamber to do what the supreme one with his floppy hair says no matter what the cost.
- The cost to an Area of Special Scientific Interest.
- The cost to the families, some of whom have lived there for generations.
- The cost to his own reputation.
- The cost to democracy itself.
Yes the cost to democracy itself. If our councils give in to one super rich landlord over his planning applications it sets a precedent. Where does it go from there? Then it will become the landlords who dictate things rather than those who are elected to represent the people. Last I looked we still lived in a representative democracy not some business related reality show where whatever the man behind desk said went.
Like many planning applications before him Trump was turned down when it was first presented. No matter what people, from Trump's Organisation, say it wasn't clear cut. However, Sarah Malone, executive vice-president for the Menie Estate development, says that the four councillors should be prevented from taking any further part because they have ' have not remained objective, which is their duty'.
I love the words that Paul Johnson comes up with to counter that claim to disbar him, Debra Storr, Sam Coull and Martin Ford, he says:
"If Mr Trump continues to complain about people, just because he doesn't like their views, he will be seen as vindictive and, indeed, ridiculous in the eyes of the public.
"It cuts both ways. Every councillor who has expressed support for the
development, on the basis that it is best thing since sliced bread, would also be debarred."
Which could leave a rather echoey council chamber if only those with no preset opinion were ever allowed to take a planning decision. Martin Ford adds:
"It is my duty to raise it and talk about and seek to get the issue addressed in a way that is proper and fair to residents."
For indeed it is the public duty of those elected to stand up for those in the area. To be the voice that is heard to voice their concerns. Trump may be able to trumpet on from his his very public profile but that is not the only voice that needs to be heard. This is a matter for moral judgement as Mike Rumbles MSP has said. If Trump has the lack of moral to bulldozer over democracy before he bulldozers his neighbours compulsory purchased houses he has lost any moral leg to stand on.
I'd say to Trump.
Enough is enough. The residents will no longer tolerate the Trump Organisations lack of respect for ethical standards. These scoundrels have to be stopped.