How Donald Trump has united Scotland in contempt

The US president offends the nation's progressive and liberal self-image. 

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I’m missing Wimbledon for this, you tangerine wankmaggot. Scotland may not qualify for World Cups very often these days, but we’re somewhere near the top of the table when it comes to the essential skill of inventive swearing.

Predictably, the placards hoisted aloft at Friday’s anti-Trump march in Glasgow’s George Square were of Mbappe quality. “Shut your 18 holes,” the golfing president was told. “Get tae, ya feckin plonker”; “Trump is a pure fud”; “Jog on, you orange bawbag”; “Beat it ya big orange jobbie”. For once, Yes and No were united, a shared, withering contempt overcoming four years of post-indy ref division.

Trump flew into Prestwick Airport in Ayrshire on Friday evening, before travelling to his nearby Trump Turnberry golfing resort. Even there he wasn’t safe from public scorn: a protestor managed to fly a microlight over the hotel pulling a banner that read “Trump well below par #resist”. In Edinburgh today a “Carnival of Resistance” is being staged, and a demonstration held at the Scottish Parliament.

The anger is perhaps mixed with a degree of embarrassment, particularly in SNP circles. Scotland’s history with this most unloved of presidents is complicated. Trump’s mother was born on Lewis and he has referred to himself as an “honorary Scot”. His planning application to build a controversial golf resort in Aberdeenshire a decade ago was pushed through by Alex Salmond’s government over local and environmental protests.

The resort was to be in Salmond’s Gordon constituency, but the promise to spend £1bn and create 6,000 jobs was never followed through. Since then - lamentably late - Salmond has turned on Trump. The president has described the former first minister as “a has-been and totally irrelevant”. Aberdeen’s Robert Gordon University has stripped Trump of an honorary degree. The Trump Organisation has vehemently protested the building of an 11-turbine wind farm that it claims “spoils the view” from the golf course.

In 2014, Nicola Sturgeon stripped Trump of his status as a business ambassador for Scotland. The notoriously thin-skinned American holds the grudge, and it was reported this week that he spent much of a phone call with Theresa May attacking the Scottish First Minister. He totally hates Nicola Sturgeon. He spends lots of his time bitching about Sturgeon,” a former aide said. The president’s harsh politics are anathema to a nation that regards itself - not always supported by the evidence - as progressive and liberal.

There was no official welcome to Scotland. Labour leader Richard Leonard addressed the rally in George Square, stating that “Scotland doesn’t want you hear, Mr Trump. Sturgeon didn’t even acknowledge the president’s presence by attending the protest. Instead, she performed the role of Grand Marshal at the Glasgow Pride march, leading from the front. That might send the strongest message of all.

Chris Deerin is the New Statesman's Scotland editor.

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