Seeing oursels as ithers see us: Newsnet Scotland’s call to its diaspora readers

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by Harry McGrath

Newsnet Scotland invites its readers furth of Scotland to let it know what the reaction was to the Scottish election result where you live. You can use the comment section of this article or respond directly to the editor in chief at alexporter@newsnetscotland.com

We are starting the process in Canada where media reports of the Scottish election are, perhaps inevitably, affected by the situation in Quebec.

Having said that, the national Globe and Mail newspaper managed an extended report without mentioning Quebec at all, though a loaded word in the headline suggests that it is not far from the author’s mind.

Under “Separatists win Scottish election, Liberal Democrats suffer defeat in UK”, it says that voters “apparently approved of how the SNP had led a coalition (sic) government for the past four years”.

The piece quotes one Alex Burns from Edinburgh who voted SNP for the first time but is not in favour of independence as an independent Scotland would have been “bankrupt” during the economic crisis.

It ends with a quote from former Labour minister Professor Susan Deacon who knows what the result means, even though it is not what her party said it would mean before the election: “It is nonsense to say that a vote for the SNP is a vote for independence, Labour overplayed that and lost,” she said.

You can read the entire Globe and Mail piece here.

The Ottawa Citizen draws on some of the same sources but with a more positive slant.

Under “Scottish pro-independence party wins majority: Leader declares he will introduce plebiscite on breaking from Britain” the author describes the SNP victory as a “stunner”. The piece shows more understanding of the Scottish electoral system that was obvious in the Globe and Mail (not difficult) and mentions how remarkable it is that one party has managed to attain a majority under a system designed to prevent that.

The Citizen introduces a supportive Quebec voice. Daniel Trup, a constitutional law expert who served in the Bloc Quebecois and Parti Quebecois says:  “I rejoice at the decisive victory of the Scottish National Party. I trust a referendum will be held during the mandate of the second SNP government and that the Scottish people will choose to be a free and democratic country. And Quebecers that believe independence is also the best option for their nation will be looking at Scotland to lead the way and achieve political sovereignty through an authentic democratic process.”

Read the Ottawa Citizen piece here.

Trup is also quoted in a piece by Peter O’Neil of Post Media News which was carried in the Montreal Gazette and elsewhere across Canada. Here the SNP victory invokes “echoes of Canada’s past unity wars”. David Cameron’s line about keeping the United Kingdom together with “every fibre” that he has reminds the author of the showdowns between Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau and Quebec Premier Rene Levesque before the 1980 referendum in Canada.

Read the Montreal Gazette here.

Finally, a photograph of Alex Salmond and a young boy draped in a Saltire evokes visions of Scotland’s future above a piece filed by Mitch Potter of the Toronto Star’s Washington bureau. It quotes freely from Murray Ritchie, former political editor of the Herald in Scotland and “a stalwart of the independence movement”.

Read it here.