29. February 2012 · Comments Off on Salmond, Murdoch and Trump · Categories: Democracy, Freedom of Information, GlobalScot, Governance, Politics

Alex Salmond met Rupert Murdoch today for lunch. They talked about future investment in Scotland. I am prepared to give Mr Salmond the benefit of the doubt in terms of the wisdom of aligning himself with Mr Murdoch and I am prepared to give Mr Murdoch the benefit of the doubt when he”gave strong assurances that News International are intent on consigning these matters [phone hacking et al] to the past and emerging a better organisation from it.”

I do both of the above with some difficulty but I do them nevertheless.

It thus follows that Rupert Murdoch is someone who might be entitled to be a GlobalScot.

Might.

Imagine on the other hand if Rupert Murdoch had, instead of meeting with Alex Salmond for soup and talking about future investment plans, announced that he planned to spend millions of pounds to fund a campaign to oppose a central plank of the Government’s economic strategy and was considering launching a legal action in order to “delay it for years to come”.

Would Alex Salmond have met with him?

Would he be considered a fit and proper person to hold exclusive membership of the GlobalScot network?

The fact that one might even hesitate before asserting that the answer must be an emphatic no shows how far out in the deep murky waters of compromise we might be swimming.

But Donald Trump was in much the same situation as Murdoch in the past. Not in terms of presiding over rampant criminality but in being somebody the Scottish Government was obliged to deal with and who managed to convince those in whose gift it was to permit such things that he intended to make serious investment in Scotland.

As a consequence he was appointed a GlobalScot by Jack McConnell and his son was then invited to join by Alex Salmond. Like Murdoch I can (just and with some difficulty) accept the legitimacy of inviting the Trumps to be GlobalScots.

But all that has changed now. If I were to join one of Donald Trump’s golf clubs and announced I would be spending £10 million to campaign against it and launch a lawsuit to frustrate its plans I doubt I would remain a member for very long.

So, yesterday, Patrick Harvie MSP and I called for Trump’s membership of the GlobalScot network to be withdrawn (here and here). For our pains, Trump claimed that we showed “fascistic tendencies”.

Today, I made further investigations into the GlobalScot network and uncovered some interesting new facts – which I will relay in my next blog.

For now, it is enough to know that the monumental disgust and loathing I feel towards Rupert Murdoch and his empire still allows me to understand why Mr Salmond might be justified in meeting for lunch and makes it all the more difficult to understand why Donald Trump is still a valued Scottish Government ambassador.

28. February 2012 · Comments Off on Why is Donald Trump still a GlobalScot? · Categories: Democracy, Environment, Freedom of Information, GlobalScot, Governance, Politics, Trump

 

UPDATE 1381 days later 9 December 2015

The Scottish Government has withdrawn Donald Trump’s role as a GlobalScot in response to remarks he made that Muslims should be prohibited from entering the UK.

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Donald Trump Jr. arrives in Scotland today (28 Feb 2012) to further his father’s campaign against wind energy in Scotland. He will be attending the Communities Against Turbines Scotland event at St Andrews Town Hall, 7.15pm on 1st March. His father has claimed in a letter to Alex Salmond that “foreign energy companies will destroy your country and economy”, and that Mr Salmond “will single-handedly have done more damage to Scotland than virtually any event in Scottish history”. He goes on to say that “I have authorised my staff to allocate a substantial amount of money to launch an international campaign to fight your plan to surround Scotland’s coast with many thousands of wind turbines.” One report suggests that he has allocated £10 million to the campaign.

Mr Trump has also threatened to bring a lawsuit against the Scottish Government which would, he argues, delay the proposed European Offshore Wind Deployment Centre off the Aberdeenshire coast which he has railed against previously.

Now renewable energy forms a major part of the Scottish Government’s economic strategy as outlined in their Routemap for renewable Energy in Scotland. Donald Trump Sr. has stated quite clearly that he intends to do all he can to frustrate this by an international multi-million pound campaign and by legal actions designed to delay an important experimental project. Donald Trump Jr. has arrived to carry out his father’s instructions and oversee the beginnings of this onslaught.

All of which is rather interesting in the context of a Scottish Government initiative to encourage support for Scotland’s economic future by international entrepreneurs.

The GlobalScot network is a project of Scottish Development International (SDI) consisting of 746 “successful executives located throughout the world”. GlobalScots all have “strong connections with Scotland” and “each of them has a strong desire to see Scotland succeed in the global business arena.” Currently, SDI is “not looking to grow the membership significantly however we are currently looking to identify prospective members in the following sectors.” (and the list includes Renewable Energy, Offshore Wind, and Marine Energy).

On 22 April 2006, First Minister Jack McConnell invited Donald Trump Sr. to become a GlobalScot. On 30 April, Donald Trump accepted the personal invitation and Mr McConnell stated that,

“Donald has shown me a real passion for Scotland. He is a globally recognised figure who can help us to promote Scotland. I am delighted that he has taken up my offer. This is a good bit of business for all concerned.”

Membership of GlobalScot is “by invitation only, personal and non-transferable.” Here, for the first time, is published the full list of members. What is of some limited interest is that the name of Donald Trump Sr. is not on the list. Has he resigned? However, Donald Trump Jr. is named. When was he invited? Surely he didn’t take over from his dad (membership is non-transferable).

What is also of some limited interest is that in October 2007, Alex Salmond invited Rupert Murdoch to become a GlobalScot and impressed upon him that GlobalScot is a “prestigious, international network of Scots, and those with an affinity for Scotland, who are committed to advancing Scotland’s economic success.” The letter claims that Murdoch accepted the invitation but his name does not appear on the list.

Back to Trump though, and in Jack McConnell’s letter of invitation, he wrote that,

I should welcome your participation in the GlobalScot programme because I believe that your experience, knowledge and skills can make a tangible impact on our economic development efforts.

Which brings me to conclude with the title of this blog.

Why is Donald Trump still a GlobalScot?

Given that both Donald Trumps are funding an international campaign against Scotland’s economic interests and threatening lawsuits to frustrate important projects, it is surely inconceivable that SDI will now retain Trump as a member. If they do not act, then the First Minister should, without delay, instruct SDI to withdraw Donald Trump’s membership of the GlobalScot network.

UPDATE 0950 28 Feb
Thank you to Lorna Waite for analysing the list of GlobalScots and noting that women make up only around 6% of the membership.

27. January 2012 · Comments Off on Declaration of Interests & Income 2010 · Categories: Announcements, Freedom of Information, Governance

What with growing concerns about income inequality, bankers’ bonuses, and tax avoidance by the rich, I though I should join a couple of my self-employed writer/activists colleagues (George Monbiot and Alastair McIntosh) and make an annual declaration of interests and income. Two other factors compel me to do so.

I believe that we have too much secrecy in the UK on matters of income and wealth and that if everyone’s income was openly declared, there would be much less inequality. This is not an especially radical idea. In Norway, you can find details of every citizen’s income and the tax they pay on this website.

Secondly, as a member of the Scottish Green Party, I feel obliged to comply with the policy resolution passed at the 2011 Conference on Tax Evasion and Avoidance which encourages corporations and individuals to not use tax havens and to publish their accounts on a a country by country basis.

2010 INCOME

I earn my living by writing, research, consultancy, lecturing, undertaking landownership investigations, subscriptions from the www.whoownsscotland.org.uk website and forestry contracting. During 2010 my income was as follows

GROSS INCOME      £18,359

COSTS                      £ 6,052

NET INCOME          £ 12,307

DECLARATION OF INTERESTS

I own no property.

I have no shares in any companies.

I am on the Board of Directors of the Caledonia Centre for Social Development (Company No. 192099 & Scottish Charity No. SC 028485)

I do not undertake any work for any Government.

My main clients are from the wind energy, community organisations, private landowners and media sectors. In 2010 I earned the majority of my income from royalty advances for my book, The Poor Had No Lawyers.

All of my income in 2010 (apart from a few book sales) was generated from within the UK.

I do not make use of any tax havens or artificial accounting structures to conceal my income.