UWEE reporter and MCDM graduate, Daniel Thornton, writes from Scotland below on local coverage and opinions of the U.S. election.
SCOTLAND — I’m checking in today from the Scottish capitol Edinburgh with a few quick observations about how the Scots (and the United Kingdom as a whole) are seeing the U.S. Presidential Election from afar.
Although most Scots don’t see themselves necessarily as a part of a greater Britain, they do share many of the same viewpoints regarding who they prefer to see elected as the next President of the United States.
In that, they do not differ much from the rest of Europe. In the run-up to their 2014 vote on independence from the United Kingdom, Scotland increasingly looks to the European Union as their natural home outside of the U. K. Hence one of the main slogans supporting the pro-independence campaign: “Scotland, Independent in Europe.”
This makes the current U.S. election particularly important for Scots as they look for alliances across the pond economically and politically. Scotland will need U.S. support in NATO as much as it will need its membership in the E.U. supported by membership states if they vote to secede from the U.K. That isn’t guaranteed, so Scottish First Minister (the equivalent of the U.K. Prime Minister) Alex Salmond has been spending time in America looking for political and economic opportunities for Scotland.
On this U.S. election day, most newspapers in Scotland and in the greater United Kingdom have been covering the election in print and online. The state-run BBC will be broadcasting regular live updates nationally and regionally and BBC Radio Scotland has been leading their regular news updates with U.S. election coverage.
While most U.K. news outlets refrain from openly endorsing a U.S. candidate, it doesn’t take much effort to see that even the most conservative outlets support Barack Obama. Indeed the one major U.K. newspaper that has actually endorsed a candidate is the London based conservative, pro-business Financial Times who endorsed Obama yesterday. Listening to coverage on the radio and watching it on the television also reveals an almost universal bias with some commentators barely concealing their incredulity when interviewing Romney supporters.
In Scotland, the two biggest dailies, Edinburghs more conservative The Scotsman and Glasgow’s left leaning Herald are both covering the election with a view that the election is Obama’s to lose. Coverage of last week’s super-storm Sandy dominated much of local and national news has now been replaced by the election and the fallout from that coverage is a reinforcing view that Obama is the seasoned statesman who has expertly negotiated both the “great recession” and the aftermath of the hurricane.
South of the border in England, even the conservative Daily Telegraph leads its coverage today with the headline “Election acrimony as Obama closes in on victory” and a giant picture of the president being embraced by Bruce Springsten. This along with the Financial Time’s endorsement follow a narrative of the election that political reporters and pundits in the UK almost can’t believe that the election could actually be that close. Ultimately it will be the US electorate and the Electoral College that will determine the outcome. All of us over here will have to watch and wait.
On the street here in Edinburgh most Scots see Barack Obama as a stabilizing force in America and see Mitt Romney’s campaign as dishonest and duplicitous. The prim and proper owner of Edinburgh’s venerable Waverley Pub in the city’s picturesque old town even went so far as to say that a Romney presidency would be “dangerous.” After buying a sampling of U.K. newspapers at a local newsagent, the owner asked me who I believed would win the election, I deflected by saying that I don’t believe that the polls are as close as they seem.
She volunteered, “I hope so. We love Obama here.”