Thursday, November 06, 2008

I am delighted that Obama has won, and that Americans seem to have chosen someone prepared to challenge and change the status quo.

Having said that I can't help but wonder if the orgy of press coverage - especially from the BBC (who have covered this election and it's aftermath with more detail and for longer than they did our own election in 2005) is entirely justified, or necessary, or even terribly interesting.

I have just come back from three days in Germany and although their press did lead with his victory the headlines on the day it happened thereafter (and before) Obamania/America was relegated to third or fourth on the running order; and quite right too in my opinion.

America may change now that he is in the White House but the impact on the rest of us is going to be very minimal, and to be cold-hearted about it, not all positive. His campaign signals suggest a much more 'America first' economic policy which may well hurt our exports and if he goes further and introduces some limitations on cheap imports from the Far East there could well be some serious international trade repercussions for all of us.

His foreign policy is entirely focused (rightly) on the Middle East and we will notice almost no difference - we will still have to provide the bulk of the non-US troop numbers in Iraq and Afghanistan for the time being and there will still be horrors there for years to come.

Even his welcome embracing of the environmental argument has serious potential downsides for Britain. So far we and the Germans have built a sizeable expertise and market advantage in many emerging new energy technologies. I have a nagging feeling that the script from here may follow a time worn path, American business will be Obama Emboldened to exploit the technology we have developed and in ten or twenty years it will be American firms making, selling and profiting from the wind and sea generation, solar rooftile and similar products we pioneered.

I am certain that the mass of UK press coverage is not being warranted because of the possibilities and the risks that Obama brings to American policy and therefore the impact on our lives but for a much more depressing reason. Because he is black.

It didn't bother the Americans one jot, they voted for the best guy on the day irrespective of his colour. Why, then, does it fascinate our media so much?

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