by Tim Bale, Paul Webb and Monica Poletti
Party membership is vital to the health of our representative democracy. Members contribute significantly to election campaigns and to party finances. They are the people who pick party leaders. They constitute the pool from which parties choose their candidates. And they help anchor the parties to the principles and people they came into politics to promote and protect.
The Party Members Project began just after the 2015 general election. We surveyed members of the six biggest parties with the support of ESRC funding and YouGov’s huge internet panel.
Alexandra Meakin is a doctoral student at the University of Sheffield, where her research is on the restoration and renewal of the Palace of Westminster. She is a Research Associate on the Designing for Democracy project, led by the Sir Bernard Crick Centre for the Public Understanding of Politics, an ESRC Knowledge Exchange Hub.
As the House of Commons returns this week from the summer recess, MPs will be adjusting to a temporary silence from the chimes of Big Ben. The repairs to the Elizabeth Tower, which contains the Great Bell, have led some politicians and parts of the media to protest that “the very heartbeat of our democracy is falling silent”. The House of Commons Commission is due to meet this month to reconsider the programme of work to address urgent problems with the clock mechanism and the structure of the tower. But while attention has been focused on Big Ben, an anniversary this week serves as a pressing reminder about the worrying state of the rest of the Palace of Westminster.
Dr Louise Thompson is a lecturer in British Politics at the University of Surrey.
Her research focuses on the UK Parliament and particularly looks at parliamentary committees, the legislative process and public engagement with Parliament and the political process. Her wider research interests are in legislative studies, British politics and constitutional reform.
Her piece ‘People will soon be at the very heart of lawmaking’ finished in the top 10 of the ESRC’s writing competition, The World in 2065– in collaboration with academic publishers, SAGE. You can read it below:
People will soon be at the very heart of lawmaking
It’s 1st March 2065. Jenny Brown is tucking her son into bed and thinking about tackling that pile of ironing that’s been sitting around all week. Her iPhone beeps and alerts her to amendment 52 of the Children Bill which has just been proposed by an MP in the House of Commons.