American Observations on British Conservatism and the British Political System

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As a conservative studying abroad in London, I cannot help but notice some interesting differences both between the American and British political systems themselves and more specifically, American and British conservatism.  I am taking a class on British Politics, so my professor kindly points out many distinctions for us. These are by no means the only differences, but they are ones I find most interesting.

Differences between the political systems themselves:

1. Britain does not have an actual written constitution, but just Acts of Parliament.  This means that politicians cannot argue that things are unconstitutional.

2. While the Queen is mostly a figurehead, she does open Parliament every session with a speech.

3. In the U.S. there is a separation of Church and State while in Britain there is not.  Despite this, religious issues are more widely discussed in politics in the US.

4. In Britain they refer to affirmative action as “positive discrimination”.

5. In Britain the majority of people identify with the working class, so political speeches are aimed at them.  In Britain the term “middle class” means the top end of society who isn’t part of the aristocracy.  Conversely, in the U.S. the majority of people identify as the middle class and the working class is seen as those individuals who are poorer.

6. In Britain there is a current debate on a bill that will reform the National Health Service.  In the bill, doctors would be given more power over how to spend the money allocated to them.  Opponents argue that this could undermine the system of equality in hospitals.  Conversely, in the US Obamacare would make everything more standardized.  Britain is trying to move their healthcare to a less standardized system while the U.S. is trying to make it more so.

7. In the U.S. there are two major parties, Republicans and Democrats. In Britain main parties include the Conservative Party, Liberal Democrats, and the Labour Party.  This forces a coalition between two of the three.

Specifically on conservatism:

8. Currently the Conservative Party has a coalition with the Liberal Democrats against the Labour Party.  I found this to be strange since in America Conservatives and Liberals are the opposing ideologies.

9. In Britain blue is the color identified with the Conservative Party and red is associated with the Labour Party, the left-wing party.

10. Even though the Conservative Party has currently been voted into power, everyone I have met hates Bush and loves Obama.

11. The political scene in Britain is split about capitalism.  The Conservative Party promote capitalism and the Labour Party promotes socialist ideas.  In the U.S., Democrats and Republicans both promote capitalism.

12. Many Catholics in Britain identify with the Labour Party or the Liberal Party because they are mostly immigrants, and the Conservative Party wants to control immigration.  In the U.S. Catholics mostly identify with Republicans.

13. Since 1945, the Conservative Party has been in favor of universal healthcare and the National Health Service in Britain.