UK politics move to US pattern


The local election results show a further realignment in UK politics so that they converge on something more like the US model.  Increasingly in the US, the Democrats are the left of centre party representing the urban elite, the educated literati, the media, and academe.  Added to this is their support among the poorer sections of the big cities, minority groups, welfare recipients and those on minimum wages.

The Republicans increasingly find support from the affluent suburbs of the big cities, from those in nice houses in leafy areas on the fringes of cities rather than in their centre.  Added to these are the populations of America’s small towns, more rural than urban.  These are more right of centre and currently ally with workers who feel left out by the political class, the blue collar aspirational types who value the American tradition of opportunity and reward for hard work.

Increasingly, UK politics seems to be moving towards a similar divide, with Labour following the Democrat path, albeit more extremely, and Conservatives drawing support from groups similar to those that back Republicans in the US.  Analysts question whether these somewhat unlikely partnerships are stable, or whether the different goals of the groups within the parties will drive them apart.

They suggest that the aims of the big city poor are at odds with those of the urban elite, creating a schism within the Democrats, and that the aims of America’s blue collar workers are similarly out of line with those who are already reasonably well off, leading to a divide within the Republicans.  Some suggest that the same fault lines are being reproduced within UK politics.

One factor which might favour the Republicans is that blue collar workers aspire to be like their affluent counterparts, and therefore identify with them more than the urban poor identify with the urban elite.  If true, this would make the Republican coalition more stable than that of the Democrats.  Extending this to the UK, it might mean that in the longer term the Conservative coalition of the aspirational and the achievers could outlast the Labour one of the dependents and the intellectual left-wingers.

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    • The American system does encourage exactly two parties by providing that the President is only elected by an absolute majority (of Electors, or failing that, of states in a joint meeting of Congress), but Congress has a smattering of “independents,” and more so the state legislatures. However, in any legislature, the key to delivering results is to be a member of the governing party or coalition — and the key to winning elections is to be big enough to guarantee automatic press coverage — and this tends to favor two large parties with opposing manifestos. Which youse have.

  1. A notable crack in the American coalition is that the Democrats support the aspirations of the LGBTQ bloc, and also support the aspirations of Muslims, which include stoning the former to death. And African Americans are overwhelmingly anti-abortion, another absurd Democrat balancing act.

  2. If voting power is allocated according to population size and the patterns in Richard’s article are causal then the UK Conservatives need to expand the number of leafy suburbs on the edge of towns and cities. More people, more votes.
    But they won’t because it would mean liberalising or devolving the planning system. And that could spell the death of the Conservative party in the long term. Whether people who want a nice house incorrectly blame capitalism or correctly blame the planning system for being unable to have one, they will move away from Conservatism so the outcome will be the same