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School of Politics and International Relations

UK political party membership


Professor Tim Bale spoke with BBC Radio on the state of British political party membership and his research that influenced his book ‘Footsoldiers: Political Party Membership in the 21st Century’. Professor Bale discussed the common stereotypes of members of UK political parties, but also noted that despite the stereotypes, “the research does certainly challenge those perceptions. It’s clear party members do vary between parties in some respects, but in a lot of ways they’re quite a lot like each other particularly when it comes to the demographic. They are overwhelmingly middle class, most are graduates, and middle aged with some variation, and there are far more men involved than women.” When asked whether he believed party members are necessary and people should join political parties, Professor Bale said: “Yes I do because they are at root, the lifeblood of our democracy. Unless we have party members we will simply have parties that are vehicles for ambitious politicians.”
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