I did not expect to be uplifted, but nor did I expect it to be truly one of the most depressing 90 minutes I have ever spent.
If you haven't yet seen it then I would urge you to do so immediately. It charts the trajectory of the Trump Corporation in buying up and attempting to develop a large chunk of the Aberdeen coast. Like most of us I guess, I had a hazy idea of the story, which is some six years old now, and an intuitive grasp that all was not as it should be. But the stark reality of this tale, as truncated into an hour and a half's television, is simply horrifying. This is a pure object lesson in how not to treat communities. Or worse still, your immediately adjacent neighbours. This is a pure object lesson in how not to treat a beautiful environment, a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) no less. Or worse still, a centuries old "dynamic system" of sand dunes and marram grass.
Frankly this is a terrible tale. It is simply woeful.
The stoic local residents who have the audacity to stand opposed to the proposed complex of golf courses, holiday apartments and hotels (how very dare they?) have their electricity cut off, their water cut off (for several days), have fences erected on their land against their wishes, which they are then invoiced for, and have huge mounds of earth transported to obscure their view (and to obscure their dwellings from Mr Trump's view, of course).
Every rule of legal development is broken: in this country, developers are only permitted to build out within the parameters of the planning permission they have, and to build only on land that they own (or have permission to build on). Mr Trump's people are seen defying every basic tenet. They deny their neighbours utilities and do not fix the problem for days. A swathe of desecration is filmed, progressively, by local residents; perpetrated by folk who frankly did not look like professional land movers. They looked like cowboys. And there seems to be little understanding of the lie of the land, the topography, the flow of the water into the sea, the simple need to ensure putting greens are laid above the water table, which makes you wonder what sort of golf course was to be created there. It would break your heart.
The police are filmed bullying residents and journalists. Donald Trump is filmed bullying residents and journalists. Donald Trump is filmed lying about his environmental credentials. And when Donald Trump is exposed as a liar, on film, it does not seem to concern him at all.
The LSE investigates the Trump claims on potential job creation for Scotland and finds them bogus. But it is the denouement of the film which is the killer: the penultimate sequence shows seasoned visiting American golfers at the Old Course of St Andrews expressing genuine doubts over whether the proposed courses would be worth visiting for the quality of the golf. And in the closing shots we learn that Mr Trump has lost interest in the project altogether, without any shred of irony, on the basis of his opposition to the proposed wind farm to be located in the sea alongside! So he may just take his bat and ball home leaving a trail of desecration in his wake.
It is beyond the scope of the film to show what the residents feel about the wind farm. But it would see that desecration upon desecration is to be heaped upon a poetically beautiful SSSI in Aberdeenshire.
What a mess. I've been working in and around inward investment projects for over 30 years; more than most folk, I appreciate the lure of the American dollar. But how on earth was this allowed to happen?