A Level Politics

Improving your grade

What is an ideology: part 4

Posted by Matt Walker on June 29, 2011

On the A2 course we will study a number of ideologies, including the big beasts of the political world, liberalism, socialism, and conservatism. In UK politics, we are familiar with the big beasts of the party system, Lib Dems, Labour, and the Conservatives. These three parties have their own ideological baggage which aids (and sometimes hinders) their policy-making, and of course they partly base their appeal on the ideology most closely associated with them.

However, when we are studying ‘conservatism’ for instance,  we are not studying the ‘Conservative Party’. They are two separate things. Political parties are a means of developing mass support for  the policies they develop. Whilst the Conservative Party may be heavily influenced by conservatism, it is a recipient  of conservative ideas, ideas which have generally been produced outside of the party by intellectuals and academics.

Whilst a politician like Tony Blair was the leader of the Labour Party, a party founded upon socialist ideals, Blair himself (and indeed the Labour Party) have adopted ideas from other political ideologies too.

Hence, when we are talking about say, conservatism, and when you are writing about it in your essays, do not conflate the terms ‘conservative’ and ‘Conservative Party’. We are studying ideologies, not political parties.

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