Free chapter for Footsoldiers: Political Party Membership in the 21st Century

Anyone who thought that Britain’s grassroots party members – the footsoldiers or ‘poor bloody infantry’ of politics – didn’t really count for much has had a rude awakening this summer. The UK is now governed by one Boris Johnson, a politician promising to end forty years’ worth of links with the European Union at a stroke and a man chosen for the job of Prime Minister not as the result of a general election but by just 92,153 people - or less than 0.2 per cent of the country’s population. And not only were they a very small slice of that population, they were also (as this free chapter reveals) a highly unrepresentative one – something, incidentally, they have in common with the members of Britain’s other big parties. Later chapters suggest that this matters: not only do members have more influence on their parties’ policies, leaders and candidates than many imagine, but who they are has a bearing, too, on their attitudes and on how active they are, as well as on what parties need to do to recruit and retain them. For all that, though, you’ll have to buy the book!

Tim Bale, co-author of Footsoldiers: Political Party Membership in the 21st Century

More about Footsoldiers:

This accessible, rigorously researched and highly revealing book lifts the lid on political party membership. It represents the first in-depth study of six of the UK's biggest parties – Labour, the Conservatives, the Scottish National Party, the Liberal Democrats, UK Independence Party and the Greens – carried out simultaneously, thereby providing invaluable new insights into members' social characteristics, attitudes, activities and campaigning, reasons for joining and leaving, and views on how their parties should be run and who should represent them. In short, at a time of great pressure on, and change across parties, this book helps us discover not only what members want out of their parties but what parties want out of their members.

This text is essential reading for those interested in political parties, party membership, elections and campaigning, representation, and political participation, be they scholars and students of British and comparative politics, or politicians, journalists and party members – in short, anyone who cares about the future of representative democracy.

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