The Conservative Party of the United Kingdom has hired an unexpected-but-certainly-qualified person to advise its general election team: Jim Messina, architect of the Barack Obama re-election and former Deputy White House Chief of Staff. What gives? How could a self-described lifelong Democrat go work for the Conservatives?

In short: Money. But also because the U.K. Conservatives are not like U.S. conservatives.

Let's be clear: This is not a Benedict Arnold-style move. The BBC reports on the hire, noting that Messina will remain in the U.S. (where Messina runs Organizing For Action) and will be used largely to advise on social media and campaign structure. The outlet also notes that it's not the first time the Conservatives and the Obama team have been linked.

In the run-up to the TV debates of the 2010 U.K. general election campaign, the Tories brought Obama adviser Anita Dunne over to advise Mr .Cameron on how to handle the debates, which are a familiar feature of U.S. presidential races.

Then, in the year of the presidential election, Mr. Cameron flew to the US in a trip interpreted by many as an endorsement of Mr. Obama.

When you break down the parties (and their leaders) by policy, it's easy to see why.

Policy Republican Party   U.K. Conservatives
(Cameron)
  Democratic Party
(Obama)
Abortion Oppose   Support, but limit Support
Death penalty Support   Oppose   Support
Same-sex marriage Oppose   Support Support
Heavy cuts to
government
Support Support   Oppose
National healthcare
policy
Oppose   Support Support
Renewable energy Oppose   Support Support
Carbon tax Oppose   Support Support
Stricter border
security
Support Support   Not a priority

 

And most importantly:

(Semi-)Official color Red   Blue Blue


Yes, that's right: Messina can still wear his all-blue outfit when he has to take meetings in London.

The final tally from the above? Two Conservative policies similar to the Republican party; six to the Democrats. And in two instances — the death penalty and nationalized healthcare — it runs further to the left.

In other words, Messina doesn't need to change his policy arguments that much, either.