What is political ideology?
Political ideology is a set of beliefs that explain how society works and what the nature of individuals is. It also has a view of how things can be improved and how they should work. In Britain, because we have a first past the post voting system, there are two large parties and they will contain ideologies with variations between them and so there may be internal conflict based on ideology as well as ideological conflict between the parties. Parties also need to persuade voters that their view of the world is correct.
Many political scientists have, since the 1960s, argued that parties have lost their ideology and become ‘catch-all parties’ which seek to gain votes only by trying to persuade voters that they are more efficient than other parties and therefore can deliver more benefits to voters. Nevertheless the Conservative and Labour parties have different traditions which remain important and new parties such as the Greens and UKIP have a clear view of how society should change.
Although there are different Conservative and Labour traditions they fit within ideas of Liberalism and Liberal Democracy which gradually became the dominant ideologies of political systems in the West from the 19th century onwards. These are not the same as the views of the Liberal Democrat party though it would claim that it upholds liberal principles to a greater degree than the Labour and Conservative parties.