The Eclectic One

…Because labels are a poor substitute for thinking

America’s political parties: a comparison with our friends across the pond

Posted by Bill Nance on September 15, 2008

For my readers who don’t know anything about British politics, you may not understand why so many in the British Isles look at us and shake their heads in dismay.

Aside from the obvious reasons; unabashed support for American torture of prisoners, renditions, an unpopular war and a view-with-horror of our fundamentalist religion-driven politics, America is suffering from a comparison of political parties in the minds of many Brits.

The UK has a parliamentary system of government, where parties stand for election and the party with the most Members of Parliament control the government. This party or sometimes a coalition of parties, appoints a Prime Minister, it’s chief executive, along with ministers of other departments such as treasury (Secretary of the Exchequer) Defense and State ( Foreign Secretary).

There are two main parties: Labour and the Conservative Party (often referred to as Tory). There are also a few other very small minority parties which stand for election, but rarely have more than a few seats in Parliament.

The Labour party is your pretty standard European-style liberal party of Democratic Socialist bent, which has been substantially changed to a more centrist and business-friendly party under the leadership of former Prime Minister Tony Blair.

The Conservative party is substantially more conservative, though it has recently softened many of its positions, such as an open embrace of civil rights for homosexuals and an open embrace of rehabilitation programs for British prisons.

In the old days, the two main American parties were near mirrors of the two British parties, with the Republicans representing the big business-friendly, socially conservative Tories, and the Democrats representing the more liberal and socially conscious Labour Party.

But over the last couple of decades this mirroring has gone the way of the Dodo, at least as far as the two major parties are concerned.

These days, the Democrats and Republicans seem to represent two very different British parties: The Tories and the BNP.

-Nuff said


One Response to “America’s political parties: a comparison with our friends across the pond”

  1. pedigree said

    Labour is far more left than many assume, moving more and more left all the time. The Tories have come a bit left from the centre-right and the 3rd party, the Lib Demos is trying to squeeze in the middle. Labour is a “tax tax tax, oh dear, you have no more money left but thanks for giving us all your blood… and your home”. The dictator character in “V for Vendetta” is more Labour than Tory. All the parties here are moving further and further left, leaving only one real alternative to those that arent left wing, the BNP….

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