The National Conservatism movement’s flagship conference in London last week was a damp squib, says John Burn-Murdoch in the FT, with criticism coming even from moderate conservatives in right-wing publications. How did its US organisers “misjudge their target market so badly”? Many people don’t realise just how different Britain is to America, especially when it comes to politics. “From immigration and racial discrimination to whether to defend tradition or embrace change, UK Conservatives actually come out closer to US Democrats than Republicans.” One speaker at the conference, for example, declared that “Britain is a Christian nation, or it is nothing at all.” Yet only 24% of Tories think being Christian is important to their national identity – about the same as Democrats (25%) and way below Republicans (53%).
These “starkly different social attitudes” exist because the UK and the US are very different places. America remains “far more racially segregated” than Britain. Black workers there earn 22% less an hour than their white counterparts, compared to a deficit of 6% in the UK. Black Americans live four years fewer than whites, on average; in Britain, black people “live longer than their white compatriots”. Another big contrast is the media. In the US, no single news provider serves more than a quarter of the population. In the UK, almost 60% of people regularly get their news from the BBC, “and both Labour and Conservative supporters generally trust its output”. These and other differences help explain why our politics is so much less heated than it is in the US. Aspiring “transatlantic culture warriors” should take note.