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.
Rosie Campbell is Professor of Politics at Birkbeck, University of London. She has recently written on what voters want from their parliamentary candidates, attitudes to MPs’ roles, the politics of diversity and gender and voting behaviour. She is the principal investigator of the ESRC-funded Representative Audit of Britain.
Sarah Childs is Professor of Politics and Gender at Birkbeck, University of London. Her research centres on the theory and practice of women’s representation, gender and political parties, and re-gendering parliaments.
Just because MPs don’t job-share at the moment doesn’t mean they never will. We think it’s worth asking why the practices of flexible working, which have helped many people access to the labour market, don’t yet apply to our democratic institutions.