Who belongs to the Labour Party and why? What are their opinions about politics and society, or about the 'new model' party of Neil Kinnock? After the electoral debacle of 1983 the Labour leadership embarked on a strategy of modernization in order to win back some of their lost support. The leadership has consistently tried to empower the party members at the expense of the trade unions and the party activists. But this strategy has been a 'leap in the dark', since the leadership has had no idea what views party members hold on matters of policy or internal organization. This book publishes the results of the first comprehensive study of party members, examining who they are, why they joined the Labour Party, and discussing their views on activism, the party, and society as a whole. Journalistic accounts of party membership abound with images of unrepresentative extremists and eccentrics. This book replaces journalistic hunches with accurate information on a significant group of actors in the British political process.
"A unique portrait of the membership of Britain's Labour party....A sound piece of empirical research that asks the right questions and yields useful results by which to better understand Labour's membership."--Choice
"Seyd and Whiteley's gratifying new book provides the scholarly community with a coherent and methodologically-grounded account of the sociological and political contours of the party's membership."--British Politics Group Newsletter
"Seyd and Whiteley have a rich questionnaire, which yields the best picture to date of Labour party members."--American Political Science Review