Whilst I have been living in the US I have been able to explain to Americans that the British multi-party system is much more positive than their own two party system. The Republicans and Democrats seem constantly to oppose and attack each other, and every issue becomes polarised. The middle ground is quite simply empty.
In the UK however, if one party, lets say the Tories, suggests a policy prescription then very often, yes, the other parties will oppose it and point out the negatives. But, at some point, the opposing parties have to differentiate themselves from each other. It may take months, but eventually Labour, for example, will have to say something along the lines of ‘well we don’t agree with what the Tories propose but here’s what we would do and it’s different from what the Liberal Democrats are suggesting’.
In the UK’s political system some positivity (and I do admit it can be hard to find) is inbuilt into the system. The mutiple parties have to distinguish themselves from each other by saying something useful every once in a while.
All this has changed however in the Brexit vote where the UK has been given just two choices and the sides have become polarised and the argument vicious, not to mention the horrific killing of Jo Cox MP. This is the situation Americans, with their two party system, find themselves in all the time. Their politics is only vicious and negative.
What can we learn from all this? Americans need to look seriously at a multi-party system that would move them away from the polarisation and negativty that characterises every policy debate.
As for us in the UK, we should be more thankful for the system we have. Interestingly though, it is our press that tries to polarise the debate for us. Newspapers tend to pick one party and support them unerringly. It is our media that gets vicious and it is much more so than the American press. Frankly if the newspaper you buy obviously supports just one party, stop buying it. The hatred in the UK press is horrible and we should be ashamed of that.