Posted by Happy Homemaker UK

The other night I was asked the difference between American and British politics. And honestly, although I've been here a year, I don't know much about the national politics in the UK. But here's my long answer...


Milk or sugar for our little convo?


Words stuck in my head from an expat Brit blogger living in the US (From Sheep To Alligators): 

You don’t often find me quoting Margaret Thatcher, but she said that Europe is founded on history and America is founded on philosophy and that is absolutely true....in some ways, the constitution *is* America [whereas] the Brits...don’t have a constitution 
(emphasis added by me)
To me, this is a profound observation. Let me try to put my finger on it...

I find in the US, people are passionate or at least opinionated about politics - therefore it is a fueled conversation you steer clear of with most folks. In general, Americans don't trust their government (some say this began with President Nixon). Politics (and politicians) are always in the news. Sadly, scandals are frequent, and the two parties often spar.

I agree the United States Constitution is the heart of America. I memorized it in school. Founded on philosophical ideals, Americans have a strong feeling of their 'unalienable rights'. We find comfort in having a piece of paper with those rights spelled out. 


'Hey look kids, there's Big Ben, and there's Parliament'
-Clark Griswold (repeatedly), 'National Lampoon's European Vacation'


On the flip-side, England has an 'unwritten' constitution, meaning it consists of many documents written over 800 years (incl Magna Carta [1215], Great Reform Bill [1832], Parliament Act [1911]). Guided by tradition and history, change is gradual. The position of Prime Minister was not simply created but evolved slowly and erratically over three hundred years. I doubt the US health care reform bill would have passed so quickly here. 

In England, there is little chatter about politics in the news or in social settings. One Brit suggested this could be due to apathy or that the political parties in the UK are not as different or polarizing as in the US.

The UK government provides many more services than the US government, including life & travel insurance (not free) and medical care (mostly free). Although taxes are higher, the government really does take care of many needs, and people feel it does a decent job in doing so. In fact, I'd say the trust and 'approval rating' of government services is much higher in most European countries than in the US.

On a final note, I find it fascinating that election for Prime Minister can occur at varying times. Within 5 years of the previous election, a particular party will call an election when they believe they are popular enough to win. A vote of no confidence by the party can also result in a general election. 

And so there's my report on current UK politics...
no report at all :)


- photos by me -
Sources: Helium and Wikipedia
 
Top