Wednesday, July 09, 2003

Malpractise and politics

Well, the Democrats have, as expected, foiled the proposed Malpractise Bill in the Senate, at least for the time being. I think that this Bill though is fairly symbolic of some of the differences between the UK and the US.

It is widely acknowledged that the parties divided along donor lines. In the US this is accepted practice, and both parties are equally guilty. I feel the Democrats perhaps try to pretend this is not the case slightly more often than the GOP. In the UK this simply could not be. Period. With one notable, and glaring exception - the unions and the Labour Party.

The Labour Party was born out of the Trade Union Movement at the beginning of the last century, and so it is hardly surprising that formal links between the unions were intrinsic to the early party. The problem is that they are still there. These links are financial and political (unions control 50% of the vote at Labour Party Conferences iirc). The biggest unions contribute £1.5 million each to the Labour Party. In American terms this is tiny, but in a climate when equally large donations by wealthy individuals are savaged in the press and in politics these formal links are looking increasingly anachronistic, and out of touch with modern British politics.

Back to the Malpractise Bill itself, I think it is also symbolic of something else about US society when viewed from across the pond. It is litigious, and in these situations overly so. That is clearly a theme on which I will be speaking some more, so I won't go further down that road here.

As to my verdict, I'm with the GOP on this one.

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