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Friday, October 08, 2004

Differences between UK and US campaigns - Part VII: Issues

Some issues are probably common to every major election on the planet: healthcare, education, crime, and so on. Other issues are issues of the moment, based around current events. I think though that there are other issues that are idiosyncratic the nations and cultures concerned. In this update to this series I hope to look at a few of these more idiosyncratic issues, including one or two "of the moment" issues that I think are unique to the US and the UK.

1) The Gun. One of the biggest differences between the UK and the US. Guns are common in the US, both legally and illegally. The right of ordinary people to own guns, as expressed by differing interpretations of the Second Amendment, is hotly debated. While I don't think it ever comes up as a major issue, it does count as being an important one. Contrast this to the UK where the vast majority of our policemen and women not only don't carry guns, but don't want to carry them either. Indeed, there is likely to be more support for outlawing all firearms altogether, including air pistols (don't ask) than allowing farmers to keep their shotguns. But it's not an issue.

2) The Fox. This is a UK issue, or rather, it has been a background issue for the last ten years or so, and is now becoming an Issue. The reason being that the Labour Party has now banned hunting with hounds. This has rather riled plenty of people in the countryside, as I have commented on before. While it also won't be a major issue (except possible in a handful of very rural constituencies in the south-west and Yorkshire) it will be an interesting side-show.

3) Religion. I find the debate about religion in the US to be fascinating, simply because there is one. In the UK we basically don't have one, and therefore it never intrudes into electoral politics. But in the US you have issues of federal funds for charities, the phrase "under god". Basically, it all comes down to that separation of church and state business. In the UK, where there is an Established Church, these issues are, again, none issues.

4) Currency. This one is about Europe. Almost inevitably in the UK the whole issue of the EU is seen through the prism of the Euro. Oddly enough, this isn't a particular concern in the USA, can't think why...

Just a pair a side, but I hope they shed some small light on what some of the important, but non-major issues, differ.

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