The Americanisation of British politics

Reagan - Thatcher Cabinet Talks

The country has no President but is UK politics becoming much more American?

The UK’s culture is often shaped by America's, particularly in regards to music, literature and television. Just look at the success of Friends in the UK, but it also works the other way. The US show House of Cards is adapted from the British TV series of the same name. In this globalised world everything is becoming much more inter-linked, but how is US politics influencing British politics?

First of all in terms of the party system the UK is not going down an American road. The US has a relatively stable two party system, whereas the UK now has a multi-party system, somewhat more akin to European systems. So in regards to party systems the UK is not going along the American road.

However, there has been a Presidentialisation of British politics. The UK, quite obviously, does not have a Presidential system, but there is an element of Presidential politics in the UK. For example, personalities are crucial to Presidential politics. In terms of the New Labour, Tony Blair was at the heart of the party’s push for government and his personality was part of his campaign. In terms of the 2015 election the Conservatives portrayed it as a battle between two leaders: a competent, experienced David Cameron, and a far less competent Ed Miliband. Competence versus chaos. A paper by Tomokazu Sakano has examined this Presidentialisation further, saying: Thatcher made a big impact on her government not because of the institutions of her office, but because of her personal hyperactivity.” (The full paper can be read here p4). Such developments in British politics show a presidentialisation and a resultant Americanisation.

Furthermore, in more recent years there has been a move towards primaries in elections. The 2016 London Mayoral contest for Labour will have primaries to elect the candidate. And in 2014 the Conservatives used an open primary to elect their candidate standing against defector Douglas Carswell. Primaries are an integral part of US politics, as they are used in the Presidential elections; the fact that the UK is using such a system suggests an Americanisation of the country’s politics.

Overall, UK politics in this respect has been changing for sometime and goes back to Thatcher's days. The 2015 election highlighted this change again.

In this interlinked world it makes sense that the UK is adapting and changing in terms of the way in conducts politics. The UK has a parliamentary system, but there are definite hints of a Presidential one in many many ways.


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