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.

chapter 1|6 pages


chapter 2|21 pages

Party Members

What we think we already know

chapter 3|25 pages

Who are the Members?

chapter 4|21 pages

What do Party Members Think?

chapter 5|21 pages

The Supply Side

Why do people join parties?

chapter 8|19 pages


Why members leave their parties

chapter 10|9 pages


The parliamentary/extra-parliamentary balancing act