For half a century after the end of the First World War - the moment from which we can date the start of Conservative and Labour dominance in political debate - political ideology shaped debate about political issues along one dimension: the state versus the market in economic management. But in recent decades, as we will see in this chapter, that single dominant divide has been overlain with many others. Three are especially important. First, the status of the United Kingdom has increasingly divided the parties, especially with the rise of nationalist parties in Wales and Scotland. Second, national identity, especially English national identity, has become an issue, especially in the light of the rising importance of EU membership: that has propelled the United Kingdom Independence Party to prominence, and has broken the silent agreement between the two dominant parties, Conservative and Labour, about the countrys membership of the EU. Third, struggles over the physical environment have become an increasing source of division. This is not just a matter of the rise of the Green Party, though that has in some instances been considerable. More widely, politics at local level is increasingly convulsed by struggles for environmental control: over windfarms, housing developments, shopping developments, road projects and rail projects like the ambitious High Speed 2 project planned for the Midlands and the north.
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