Odd that both go by the name “democracy” – though exactly what that word means is hard to pin down. Try it and you’ll find it’s as flexible and elusive as a water-snake.
The way the Americans use it to justify an unjustifiable approach to foreign policy, you might think it meant capitalism. Which is odd when you think of all the countries where it’s been synonymous with communism.
The almost religious reverence both Yanks and Brits give to money is, sadly, one of the ways we resemble them.
And there’s an interesting point in that if you ever thought democracy was… well, democratic.
US political commentators routinely assess the race to the White House on the basis of who has most cash to shell out on getting their message across. There are rules (sort of), but the sums spent on promoting the leading contenders are astronomical.
The last US presidential campaign cost about £3.7billion – that’s £12 for each man, woman and child in the land.
It’s been estimated that the 2010 general election in Britain cost about £60million – roughly £1 per head.
And if you’re looking at value for money, you could call it a triumph for Gordon Brown.
David Cameron’s Conservative campaign cost more than twice as much as Labour’s, yet they still scraped into power only with the aid of the LibDems (whose spend was a bit more than half that of Labour).
So what might that tell us about the 2015 campaign?
If cash buys votes, it should be a shoo-in for the Conservatives, who are expected to spend three times as much as Labour.
As the party of the rich, and of big business, they have much wealthier backers.
And – though you probably didn’t notice at the time – they recently changed the rules. The limit on what candidates can spend was raised by 23 per cent to a total of £32.7m.
That’s still some way short of the £78m the Tories are believed to have raised in this time of “austerity”. But it’s well beyond what Labour can afford, let alone any of the smaller contenders.
The Green Party, for example, is almost wholly reliant on what its members can chip in out of their own pockets. And most of them aren’t rich.
The green energy company Ecotricity gives the Greens £40 for each new customer who signs up. It gave Labour £250,000. And that’s small beer alongside the £2.5m other power companies have given the Tories.
Next time you see an election poster, leaflet or broadcast, stop and think who might have paid for it. And what they might hope to gain.