This Isn't America Yet? The Americanisation of British Politics

Alasdair Dow suggests that we should pay attention to the Americanisation of British politics.

I am going to begin with a personal fact. I am married to an American and as a result I know a lot of Americans. They seem to have a shared assumption about the UK that we are merely a more polite version of themselves. This set of assumptions is usually quickly shrugged off when they spend some extended time with British people.  We use words differently, are more sarcastic and possess a more self-deprecating sense of humour. There are also very different manners codes we adhere to. When it comes to what they call values and we used to call principles, fundamentally a few are different . 

This does not mitigate what we share, just less than what you would think. When it comes to politics this small divide has traditionally been a big one. If I sat a British conservative and American conservative in the same room they would only agree on three, maybe four in ten things. These might be the importance of a free market, strong borders and the importance of security at home and abroad . It seems less likely they would agree on education policy. On the left, this was certainly the case before the 1960s - the Labour party and Democratic party had nothing in common .The Democratic party has always been much more aligned with the British Liberal Democratic party in terms of values, which it oddly has not seen as a natural partner despite the Lib Dems being (between 1980 to 2010) the UK's third largest party .It was Tony Blair's relationship with Bill Clinton and reforms of our party particularly to Labour's Clause Four without saying if I think them good or bad made us more like the American Democratic party.  In 2015 Ed Miliband even recruited David Axerold, who was an advisor to President Obama, as his own campaign advisor.  

It can be said the question of going American is what is troubling the Tories so much. Boris Johnson got the ball rolling on this. He borrowed the strategy and rhetoric  of the Republican party but he as a one nation conservative could only go so far . After all, except for carbon copying recent Republican migration  rhetoric he arguably did little else. An example can be seen on how differently American and British conservative policies are concerning the environment, especially when Johnson was in charge - the British conservative hope of net zero by 2050 versus American conservative belief  on the whole climate change  is an exaggerated threat at best. Gay marriage is another example - legalised in 2013 by a Conservative-led government. In American conservative circles this would be unthinkable .This is a very big difference in opinions.

Despite this with Suella Braveman and friends in the wings growing in influence in the UK, we can see a slow Americanization of British conservatism with their war on some fuzzy ill defined group called the woke. If we add GB news with Nigel Farage we can see a wider attempt to reach conservatively minded voters and realign them with an American view of conservatism. We also can see with smaller parties such as Reform  UK that you can even vote for American conservative policies . As for our Labour party we aren’t there yet but we could be soon.

The refocusing especially of the minds of voters on social issues long time settled in the UK such as abortion shows in my view Americanization at its best. The issue of abortion has been allowed as long as two doctors agree it is the right course of action since 1967 by the abortion act. The strange case of Isabel Vaughen spruce who was arrested for praying outside a abortion clinic as an act of protest this year in Birmingham could show us how  we are slowly  becoming a pale replica of American political reality. It is not the fact this woman was against abortion but she chose to protest with prayer which shows an American willingness to mix faith and politics. Breaking the cardinal rule of British politics outside northern Ireland that faith is kept out of the political arena.

We are not there yet by any means. Our parliamentary political system , our monarchy and different legal systems alone stand as great obstacles and a lot more besides them to the hope of the Americanizers. The introduction of prime ministerial debates in the vein of American presidential debate in 2010 to some is considered the beginning of this process. We can ever ride the wave, see the changes and use our forewarning to win voters. We can also break the wave of change by standing up for our traditional political setup. As the most popular political party polling among voters at 46 percent with no other polling above 30 percent currently. The choice is ours for now.

Alasdair Dow is a recent graduate of Bangor University with an interest primarily in Welsh politics, hoping to share some insight on the issues of the day and contribute to understanding and maybe solving the problems we as a society face. 

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