Talk:Mystery:Why is England More Liberal than the United States?

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Nice essay! I hope you add more! I have always been wondering this, considering until recently England was more centered towards religion. NickP 01:15, 17 July 2011 (EDT)


This is a very interesting topic, but I think an important point needs to be raised. English liberalism is not a new problem. It's important to keep in mind that many of the first colonists in America came here to escape from what they perceived as laxity within the Church of England, and that the revolutionary war was a reaction to British governmental overreach and over-regulation. In many ways, American conservatism is a RESPONSE to British liberalism. --Benp 13:38, 17 July 2011 (EDT)

There is no doubt that the roots of revolution were in the overreach of government and taxation. The latter may be characteristic of left leaning (liberal) governments but I think it is a little anachronistic to decribe this a a reaction against "liberalism". Going further, I don't believe the British government of the time, while authoritarian, could be described in terms of either classical liberalism or its current meaning.
I would add that fundamental reason why Great Britain/UK (I have no idea why this work singles out "England" specifically) and Europe generally have more liberal attitudes has arisen from several historical trends - that this topic needs to expand on - but most notable the contrasting feature of the United States is that its growth and success rests on indiviudal responsibility, liberties and a hostile mindset to big government and tax since the revolution! Laguardia This was entered by User:DavidMilton on his previous account replaced due to lost login details.
Speaking as an Englishman, this does appear to be the most plausible explanation for the divergence between American and European political sentiments. America as a nation was founded on the rejection of a major controlling governmental force, so the nation's people have long been distrustful of the expansion of government. Concepts like welfare didn't come into their hayday in the UK until the beginning of the 20th Century, long after America had established itself as a nation that was distrustful of national programs. The difference then is just the logical conclusion of two countries following those post-revolution trends. I think that most of the other suggestions in this essay (like nationalised television) are symptoms of the differing perspectives, not causes. --Maninahat 14:37, 20 July 2011 (EDT)

The entrenched Church of England

I wonder if part of the reason is that the officially entrenched nature of the Anglican Church has caused a complacency amongst the religious over there. In many ways the Church of England has become more of a social organisation than a religious one, and this has had a liberalizing effect on the population on the whole. --DamianJohn 14:43, 17 July 2011 (EDT)

Good point ... and certainly worth adding. I'll include it now, and please feel free to improve.--Andy Schlafly 15:01, 17 July 2011 (EDT)
I will say that as a devout Anglican, I personally find that opinion very offensive, but I am naturally biased. I would like to bring up the fact that I have heard the same thing said of Irish Roman Catholics (which I also find dubious), where the Catholic Church was nothing more than a social organization, and that people were Catholic solely because of the social and not spiritual benefits. Furthermore your opinion that the Anglican Church has done nothing but create complacency is at odds with the revival of Anglican monasticism and the resurgence of pilgrimage sites like Our Lady of Walsingham, which was started by the Anglican Church and then copied by the Roman Catholics. Though England is certainly not as conservative as the States, leave the Church of England out of it.--IScott 19:41, 20 July 2011 (EDT)
You raise a valid point. Perhaps England would be even more liberal in the absence of the Church of England. How about this: let's move it to the "dubious explanation" category and include your rebuttal.--Andy Schlafly 20:00, 20 July 2011 (EDT)

More liberal

Is the UK more liberal? What factors are we judging its liberalism on? MaxFletcher 16:53, 17 July 2011 (EDT)

England is certainly less conservative than the U.S.--Andy Schlafly 17:07, 17 July 2011 (EDT)
I am sure that it is but I am just wondering about what factors have been taken into account. MaxFletcher 20:18, 17 July 2011 (EDT)


It's a public broadcaster, which tend to be liberal (look at NPR and PBS in the US) and furthermore, Brits have no choice in funding it, as it's paid for by mandatory TV licenses. Finally, while there is commercial (i.e. non-government TV) in Britain, the BBC is the only free (as in beer, aside from the license) option. Because of the tightly-controlled media, and lack of a free market, it's no wonder liberalism is so rampant there. --FergusE 22:01, 17 July 2011 (EDT)

The BBC is not the only free-to-view broadcaster by any means. Up until the advent of digital television there were five free channels, BBC1, BBC2, ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5. There are now dozens more free-to-air channels, the vast majority of them being commercial broadcasters. WilliamB1 22:37, 17 July 2011 (EDT)
Do you deny that The BBC is the dominant media in England and that it's heavily liberally biased? --FergusE 22:49, 17 July 2011 (EDT)
I will answer from my perspective of living in the UK for a year not so long ago. Yes. Liberally biased but not heavily liberally biased. --DamianJohn 01:53, 18 July 2011 (EDT)
FergusE, rather than turning on me for pointing out a factual error and posing a question that bears no relevance to the point I was making, you could just accept your mistake graciously. I never said it wasn't the dominant media in England. And I do not think it is even possible, or sensible to divide the world up into things which are 'conservative' and things which are 'liberal' as if the two terms are categories set in stone and used in the same way by everyone. WilliamB1 08:31, 18 July 2011 (EDT)

A federal England and freedom of speech

This is quite a slippery argument. England is a much smaller country than the United States and it's hard to see how it would be practical to devise any sort of federal structure. Of course, the United Kingdom is now, essentially, arranged along federal lines. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland all have their own assemblies or parliaments.

I don't quite understand the freedom of speech argument. What evidence is there that England is less at home to the right of free expression than is the United States?--Jdixon 11:13, 18 July 2011 (EDT)

England does not guarantee a right of free speech. It's that simple.--Andy Schlafly 21:21, 18 July 2011 (EDT)
Actually Article 10 of the UK Human Rights Act of 1998 states:
Article 10: Freedom of Expression (1) Everyone has the right of freedom of expression. This right shall include freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without inference by public authority and regardless of frontiers. however this was only guaranteed in 2000 unlike the US which was in the 1700's MaxFletcher 21:42, 18 July 2011 (EDT)
Are there any cases where this has made any difference?--Andy Schlafly 22:24, 18 July 2011 (EDT)
Well, the fact is they do have the freedom of speech which is protected by law. MaxFletcher 22:25, 18 July 2011 (EDT)
It has frequently made a difference. Indeed, many in the Conservative Party are calling for an overhaul of UK human rights laws since they believe them to have led to overly lenient sentences in certain court cases. WilliamB1 22:27, 18 July 2011 (EDT)
Are there any examples that could be reviewed?--Andy Schlafly 22:28, 18 July 2011 (EDT)
Here and here. MaxFletcher 22:31, 18 July 2011 (EDT)
Your second link seems to support my point: there still is not freedom of speech in England. (I couldn't get your first link to work).--Andy Schlafly 20:34, 19 July 2011 (EDT)
Article 10 does guarantee freedom of speech and expression but the question is whether it is used and, anyway, it is some 300 years behind the US meaning that they haven't had any opportunity to exercise it like the US. MaxFletcher 21:37, 19 July 2011 (EDT)

Well, this article provides a rather nice summary; David Cameron for the repeal of the Human Rights Act. If you would like anything more specific from me it will have to wait. It's 3.30am over here and I need my sleep. WilliamB1 22:33, 18 July 2011 (EDT)

Your link seems to be broken, unfortunately.--Andy Schlafly 20:34, 19 July 2011 (EDT)
Fixed. WilliamB1 21:54, 19 July 2011 (EDT)

Move Request

Can a moderator move the page to Mystery:Why is The United Kingdom More Liberal than the United States?? It would make more sense because England is only one part of the country. TonyB 20:28, 18 July 2011 (EDT)

No, I don't think so. "England", the dominant nation in the United Kingdom, is the more familiar term. And England itself is more liberal than the United States.--Andy Schlafly 21:16, 18 July 2011 (EDT)
Hello Andy, I am new to this site and think there could be some interesting observations to be made in this article. with the intention of being helpful, unless you really do mean Engalnd excluding Wales, Scotland etc. I must point out that "England" as a term for the whole of the United Kingdom has long passed into non-accetpable use appart from in very casual parlance outside of the United Kingdom and even then it is regarded as incorrect and even parochial. If the article is going to be worthy of a encyclopedic resource for educational use, I would along with Tony's suggestion. If it needs to be concise, "Britain" is the more common contracted term to refer to the whole of the UK (even inlcuding Northern Ireland) pretty much everywhere.User:DavidMilton
Mr Schlafly, Scotland and Wales are also more liberal than the US. Northern Ireland is becoming liberal too as interest in religion declines. HollyS 19:40, 19 July 2011 (EDT)
Is England the most liberal of all?--Andy Schlafly 20:30, 19 July 2011 (EDT)
The Conservative Party would have a majority of Parliamentary seats if you took England on its own, and the vast majority of the Conservative Party vote comes from the English electorate. WilliamB1 21:52, 19 July 2011 (EDT)
It has been generally considered that England is the most conservative of the states that make up the UK. I cannot find the source off the top of my head, but I know that if it weren't for the results of Wales and Scotland there wouldn't have been a labour government until 1997 (and by that time it was a fairly centrist labour govt compared to earlier times). If you look at this map you can see the trend of England is solidly blue, whereas in Wales and Scotland Red and Yellow predominate. The same for 2005. It goes without saying that the conservative party in the UK may not be what Andy Schlafly would consider conservative in the US context, but it does tend to indicate that relatively speaking England is the most conservative of the states that make up the UK. I personally would favour a change of name to the United Kingdom. --DamianJohn 13:59, 20 July 2011 (EDT)
The most socially conservative part of the UK and the one with the highest church attendance is the Highlands and Western Isles of Scotland. Interestingly, this is not favourable territory for the so-called Conservative Party, which does not have pro-Christian, socially conservative policies. HollyS 18:50, 20 July 2011 (EDT)

Population Density??

I was thinking along the lines of major differences between England and the US and one of the biggest differences that kept popping up in my mind was population density. The US has a much smaller population density than England. In fact I think England has a population density that is 12 times more dense compared in to the US. Basic politics and voting patterns in the US say that urban areas (high population density) tend to vote Democratic while rural areas (low population density) tend to vote Republican. [1] So maybe England has the similar trends with their voting habits.--Harrymd 21:25, 18 July 2011 (EDT)

Great point ... worth including. Please feel free to add it.--Andy Schlafly 21:44, 18 July 2011 (EDT)
I know the referenced article I used for the trends referenced evolution, but I was in the middle of watching a movie with my family so I didn't have time to look for another one.--Harrymd 21:47, 18 July 2011 (EDT)
Are you sure about this population density idea? Constituencies in thinly populated areas like the Highlands of Scotland, the Northern and Western Isles, the Scottish Borders, mid-Wales and Cornwall have consistently voted Liberal or Labour. I think liberal attitudes in Britain have much more to do with a lack of religious belief and low church attendance. HollyS 19:38, 19 July 2011 (EDT)
Good point. Some counterexamples exist in the US also: Vermont, one of the most rural states, is also perhaps the most liberal.--Andy Schlafly 20:39, 19 July 2011 (EDT)
I'll admit that there are some counter example, but that is why I didn't use exclusive language, because there are always things that fall outside generalities.--Harrymd 21:06, 19 July 2011 (EDT)
The mystery is why ENGLAND is so liberal not Scotland, which the Highlands of Scotland are in. The metropolitan area of London consists of approx. 26% of the English population--Harrymd 13:33, 20 July 2011 (EDT)
Further muddying the issue are the demographics of voters across the UK. The south, which is less rural, more urban, and more middle-class, tends to be more supportive of the conservative party. The north, noted for its larger proportions of working class, tends to be labour (more left-wing) supporting. Despite this, the northern countryside tends to be predominantly made up of conservative voters, and northern towns tend to be staunch Labour supporters. Thus the influence of population density on voting seems to be reversed, or outweighed by other factors, depending on which portion of the country you are from. --Maninahat 14:49, 20 July 2011 (EDT)
Sure. And conversely, rural areas of the south of England (Cornwall apart) are staunchly conservative. Is it mere coincidence that church attendance is much higher in these areas than in London (atheist/non-Christian)? HollyS 18:43, 20 July 2011 (EDT)

George Patton

Although I see the statement has been removed now, I'm curious to know why George Patton, the undoubtedly brilliant Allied commander that the was and home schooled as well, was a 'genius... who could have saved England from ruin.' Obviously I'm missing something here but, aware as I am of his military abilities, arguably verging on genius, I don't understand the contentions. Firstly how England is, or was, ruined, and assuming for sake of arguement it is/was, how Patton could have prevented it. Can someone please enlighten me? Many thanks. BrianNTS 11:53, 21 July 2011 (EDT)

I removed it as (though he was a genius) as it non sequitur to the purpose of the article and, having done so, there is no mileage to exploring it further in this discussion to improve the article. If this is something that needs exploration in the article on George Patton, please feel free to do so (though as this is not currently contended on this page, there seems little point). User:DavidMilton 22 July 2011

Post War Complacency

I'd like to query the suggestion that post 1945 UK became a complacent nation, as a consequence of NATO and UN support. Apart from the fact that the UK was often at much greater risk in European conflicts than the Americas (suggesting that, using the logic of the argument, US citizens should be even more complacent), the UK was involved in numerous conflicts at home and over seas since the end of WWII. "The Troubles" was the most dramatic, though Britain also was involved in North Korea, Malaysia, The Falklands, and numerous post-colonial related conflicts. Though I could accept the claim that a stable nation becomes more complacent, the United Kingdom was by no means more stable or conflict free than the US. Maninahat 14:09, 21 July 2011 (EDT)

I didn't live that era but maybe someone else could comment Mr. Hat. England lost it's Empire in the 20th century. It's reserve currency financial status reduced by 90%. Post-war era was rebuilding time and loans. The Korean conflict was short, the Malasia conflict had British mainly as envisors. With exception of the Falklands and Iraq, the English public was not in war mode for 40 of 50 years. The country turned more national than international. Focus became social service handouts and socialism in my humble opinion.--Jpatt 14:58, 22 July 2011 (EDT)
Economic strife and the loss of the empire should, if anything, make people less complacent as their livelyhood comes under risk. Since 1945, the UK was involved in more than 13 major conflicts. The number goes up to about 21-23 when smaller conflicts are included (such as the Malaysian Emergency), and no year within that 60 year period lacked UK military action. In fact most of the major US post-45 conflicts featured British troops. See link for details. As for socialism, the UK already had a fairly extensive welfare system in place before WWII, and I think that is an entirely different argument. Maninahat 12:51, 23 July 2011 (EDT)

Causes vs effects

While I agree that all of the explanations suggested are associated with inferior levels of conservatism in England, I think it is an interesting question whether any given one is a cause, effect, or both. Problems like strong labor unions require a liberal environment to occur, but also cause further liberalism. There is something of a vicious cycle here, in my opinion. --GrahamB 22 July 2011

Good point. I think the labor union issue is more of an effect than a cause. I'll downgrade it to the questionable category.--Andy Schlafly 23:08, 22 July 2011 (EDT)

Corrections to grammar

I am suggesting these corrections on the talk page, rather than making direct edits, because as an Englishman I may be missing some subtle points of US English.

  • "Reasons for why" should be "Reasons why". This is a common piece of illiteracy.
  • For "atheistic-controlled", read either "atheist-controlled" or "atheistic". I shall not go in to the factual status of the statement, which can charitably be described as laughable.
  • For "Homeschooling is less common in England, in contrast with the U.S.", read "Homeschooling is less common in England than in the U.S.". Otherwise the reader is left wondering "less common than what?". The sentence "Homeschooling is less common in England than dirt, in contrast with the U.S." would be grammatically correct. Come to think of it, it might be true.
  • "This increases secular influences and reduces Christian guidance." Why not "This increases secular guidance and reduces Christian influences."? Something more neutral (NB: not "fair and balanced", which has come to mean the opposite of its plain sense) might be in order.
  • For "Subsequent years after World War II", read "In the years after World War II". I've never seen this mistake before.

ELWisty 20:14, 24 July 2011 (EDT)ELWisty