Sunday, April 08, 2007

Independence Dealt A Trump Card

Who’d have thunk it? Donald Trump, New York property developer extraordinaire and star of ‘The Apprentice’, has given his views on Scottish Independence to the Sunday Times. Amidst dire warnings from the Chancellor of ‘instability’ leading to a ‘flight of investors’ if anyone other than Labour ends up running Scotland post-May, the man behind a planned US$500m leisure investment in North-East Scotland has signaled that he would feel equally comfortable doing business in an independent Scotland:

“I think Scotland is an amazing place and the people are incredible’, says Trump. ‘ I think if they set their minds to do something, they can do whatever they want. The biggest people in New York are from Scotland. They are a tremendous success. Scotland will always be a success, whether it is independent or not independent.”

Whoops! There goes another rubber tree plant. However, the politics of fear and uncertainty remain to the fore. Edinburgh’s Ian Rankin, author of the Inspector Rebus novels, has spoken out in recent days against independence, on the grounds that he feels the Scots are ‘too chippy’ as a nation to make a go of it. He’s entitled to his view, but I find his ‘we’re not worthy’ argument a very strange one indeed. (That said, he does offer this today).

Scotland and her people, like any country on the planet, are not without their flaws and foibles. But I wonder what sort of ‘purity test’ of the national character, such as it exists, we would have to pass before Rankin would change his mind on this point. I’m assuming he doesn’t intend to include himself amongst those he deems to be too chippy to make a go of it, but amidst the barrage of statistics and claims driving the debate at present, it does seem a rather eccentric contribution to have made.

It’s almost like the ‘subsidised Scot’ argument. They must exist, because Labour and the unionist-minded press never tire of telling us they do. However, confront those making the argument, even amongst voters, and it is never they who are subsidised personally. Oh, no, it’s someone else who’s on the scrounge. They earn every penny and have worked hard for all they've got.

As they probably have, which makes tracking down the subsidised Scot an elusive business indeed. A prime example of the same argument was used on one of the Scotsman message boards today, where one Jeremiah claimed not to understand how the 2.5m Scots in work could ever be able to support the 2.5m Scots not in work (that’s presumably the young and the pensioners as well as the unemployed).

Well, I’ll stick my neck out here and suggest it would happen in much the same way as the 29m Britons in work manage to support the remaining 30m who are not. I’m willing to bet that said punter has never met this fabled subsidised Scot, any more than he or she has ever met their English or Welsh counterpart, who logically must also exist in similar numbers.

I’ll finish with this observation. I went out on Friday night and was quizzed at length by one of the company (an SNP-sceptic) about the current state of political play and on why I thought Scotland should be independent. In the end it was a case of ‘no sale’, but on the grounds that he just didn’t see what independence would do to change things for the better, rather that it was somehow difficult or unviable. A bit like Ian Rankin, but minus the chippiness argument.

That sort of view I can respect. I hadn’t gone out to the pub with the intention of converting anyone, but if I failed on this occasion, it was down to me and me alone – I’ll just have to do better with my pitch next time I get the chance. What puzzles me is why so many capable Scots, Ian Rankin included, seem to set a bar for Scotland that they would never dream of applying to any other nation on the face of the earth?


Richard Havers said...

Richard, I can see why you've jumped on the Trump remark but to me he's doing what someone like him does best. He speaks out of both sides of his mouth simultaneously. It's basically a fluff remark in which he says he'll do business here whatever way the vote goes. It's a remark aimed more at ingratiating himself with Scotland in general.

Never trust a man whose hair doesn't move.

Richard Thomson said...

Hi Richard,

I think you're spot on about Trump. My point was that we hear plenty about how business would supposedly flee from an independent Scotland, yet here's someone making a huge investment who is prepared to say the constitutional debate won't influence his decision one whit.

For me, it snaps into sharp perspective how unfounded some of the scaremongering around independence actually is. Beyond that, you are right that nothing more should be read into it.