The impact of the environment on established political parties, especially in polities without an electorally successful green party, is surprisingly under-researched. This article provides a theoretically informed and empirically comprehensive analysis of the party politicization of the environment in Britain. Four hypotheses are developed, drawn from the party competition and 'new politics' perspectives, which predict the response of the three major British parties to environmental issues. These hypotheses are tested against a range of quantitative and qualitative sources, notably the Manifesto Research Group and expert survey data. Party politicization of the environment is found to be limited, but there are important variations in party responses. Party competition is critical in explaining these responses. However, the 'new politics' insight that the environmental issue dimension cuts across the traditional left-right cleavage identifies ideology as a further significant constraint on the willingness of established parties to embrace this issue.
- new politics
- party competition