In 1927, Tory MP Lt Col Reginald Applin addressed the Commons, “the old fighting spirit surging through his veins”, as he took on his “deadliest foe” yet: the Americanisation of his fellow Britons. “They go to see American stars,” he raged. “They talk America, think America, and dream America.” I’ve been thinking about Applin, says Dominic Sandbrook in UnHerd, ever since the overturning of Roe v Wade sent millions of Brits into a spiral of “existential horror”. “You think what you see in America couldn’t happen here?” tweeted Labour MP Stella Creasy. Yes, I do, actually. The most recent YouGov polling shows that just two – “two!” – in 100 people in the UK think abortion should be illegal.
I suppose it’s possible that we could completely overhaul our entire political system, “develop a deeply religious political culture”, and set up a fervent anti-abortion movement. Then, perhaps, our own Supreme Court could allow individual counties – “Dorset? Wiltshire?” – to ban abortions. After all, “where the Republicans go the Tories follow”, according to Jeremy Corbyn’s economic advisor Richard Murphy. “We take the right to abortion, contraception… for granted,” he says. “We shouldn’t.” Why not? Does he honestly believe Boris Johnson, “of all people”, is likely to abolish contraception? And last time I checked, encouraging high street sales of automatic weapons and outlawing abortion was more likely to snare you a “nice padded cell” than a safe Tory seat. The obsession with America is a poison infecting our public life. Its history is one of violence: slavery, civil war, wars against Indians and Mexicans. But “Britain is not America”. The Roe v Wade judgement matters enormously for Americans. But it’s nothing to do with us.